IoT And Personalized Medicine: Digital Transformation Is Creating New Business Models For Life Science

From electronic record systems (EHR) to the Internet of Medical Things (Healthcare IoT), the digital revolution has already brought disruptive changes to the healthcare sector. Even bigger changes are on the way, thanks to advances in networking and in-memory computing. Powered by IoT, personalized medicine is creating new business opportunities for pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and patient services that will dramatically improve therapeutic outcomes. Digital disruption has the potential to unlock $ 100 billion in commercial value, reports Accenture. With the life sciences industry poised for change, companies that take move to capitalize on new business will gain a critical, first-mover advantage.

A more than $ 100 billion opportunity: Life science digital transformation

Life science companies that embrace digital transformation are shifting value within their industry. These companies successfully unlock new revenue streams by providing a substitute treatment or medication, enabling the sharing economy, converting healthy activities into currency, or setting new standards for treatment and personalized care monitoring. For example, Accenture reports that remote monitoring for Type 2 Diabetes has the potential to shift more than $ 100 billion in value from traditional to emerging business models.

Healthcare IoT and analytics processing are coming together to enable this digital shift. IoT uses real-time data feeds from sensors and devices to enable machine-to-machine interactions. Data is now available through remote tracking, electronic medical records, diagnostic information and hand-held personal devices. Advanced analytics processing analyses this data in real time, providing actionable insights that enhance the decision-making powers of professionals and enables patients to take a more active role in managing their personal health. These innovations are transforming not just how we care for the chronically ill, but also how we empower individual wellness and proactively work to prevent disease.

In addition to the benefits of IoT for personalized health care, IoT is also making it easier for life science companies that produce equipment or medication to proactively mitigate machine failure. This helps life sciences companies improve reliability and quality. Patients benefit from a responsive supply chain and companies benefit from efficiency gains that lower production costs.

IoT digital transformation in action: Cold chain supply for biologics and smart pills

The impact of IoT on the life science industry is significant, particularly in terms of how these businesses interact with their B2B customers and, even more importantly, their consumers. Cold chain supply for biologics and consumer smart pills are two examples of how IoT is improving therapeutic outcomes through personalized medicine.

Cold chain supply for biologics

Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture environmentally sensitive drugs face several key challenges. First, these manufactures need to improve the safety and efficacy of drug production. Second, these companies are working to reduce theft and lost drugs. Finally, these companies are seeking to reduce incidental spoilage and decrease inventory requirements. IoT tracking and sensors addresses these key challenges.

By 2020, IDC predicts that more than half of all top-selling drugs will be biopharmaceutical or biologic products requiring temperature controlled transportation and storage, usually 2–8°C, but sometimes frozen or cryogenic. This requires a huge network of time/temperature sensors in factories, warehouses, trucks, labs, and pharmacies that can monitor and send this information, for both clinical trial supplies and approved products. IoT tracking sensors and networks help life sciences companies ensure the safety and efficacy of their products in transit and in storage. Investment in cold chain IoT networks will be driven by safety and compliance concerns; these investments will also contribute to savings from lower inventory and spoilage costs.

Smart pill for personalized medicine

Health care providers struggle with prescription non-adherence, especially among patients with chronic diseases. Since patients are reluctant to tell their health care providers that they are not taking their medications, the American Medical Association reports that providers may needlessly escalate treatment. IoT powered innovations like the “smart pill” may improve patient compliance. Key benefits include maximizing drug effectiveness, reducing medical costs due to improper drug usage and decrease incidental spoilage and supply chain waste.

The Proteus pill by Proteus Digital Health contains a tiny ingestible sensor that can communicate to a wearable patch on a patient’s skin when the pill has reached the patient’s stomach. The patch then sends a status update to a mobile device. The technology can be helpful for conditions where adherence to taking prescriptions has traditionally been poor. Related technology includes “smart” pill bottles that can send signals to portable devices when opened or altered, thereby improving safety and reducing fraud.

Three steps to prepare your life science company for digital transformation

Innovate or be left behind: digital transformation is contemporary imperative for today’s life sciences companies. Whether a scenario can be implemented now or in the future, your company must have the right technology and IT infrastructure in place. Otherwise, your company risks losing out on first-mover advantage. These three steps will position your business for success:

  1. Conduct a risk-benefit assessment. Define strategic and tactical goals, including high-level benchmarks against key industry competitors, both traditional and emerging. Align efforts with customer needs, key business goals, and the likelihood of market disruptions.
  1. Be “digital ready.” Start modernizing systems and business processes in alignment with future opportunities.
  1. Form strategic partnerships. Identify the partnership ecosystem that can best support your business on its path towards digital transformation.

Taking these steps today will prepare your life science company to capitalize on the disruptive IoT innovations that are essential for the next generation of personalized medicine.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading “The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries.” Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading “Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

How To Improve Precision Medicine With Machine Learning

Machine learning can be the difference between life and death. The technology, which enables computers to teach themselves, is about more than who has the world’s biggest artificial intelligence (AI) platform or how well a platform evaluates cookie recipes; it could be a tremendous boon for precision medicine, which tailors healthcare to the specifics of individual patients.

Using precision medicine for cancer treatment, for example, involves identifying characteristics that could help predict a specific treatment’s effectiveness for a specific patient, according to OncLive. Legacy methods might have based treatment on the cancer’s stage, which is a relatively limited indicator of success.

“Imagine if you could take results of all of the tests … and the results of the treatment that was done, and aggregate and anonymize all of that data, and apply machine learning to learn from that which treatments were the most effective,” Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of SAP Analytics, said at SAP Leonardo Live in Frankfurt. “Not only could you reduce the amount of the chemotherapy that was required for a patient, but you could also reduce the amount of patients who received an unnecessary dose – or who received a type of chemotherapy that didn’t work.”

Machine learning tames the human genome

“We have all the data … more data than we’ll ever be able to consume in our lifetime,” Flannagan said. “Where machine learning comes in is … to turn the processing, the understanding, the deriving of meaning from that data over to machines.”

One treasure trove is the patient’s genome, a massive DNA dataset within an individual’s 23 chromosome pairs. Advances in IT infrastructure have enabled physicians to treat – or change treatment – for thousands of patients based on their genome, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.

“Genomic sequencing is a … noninvasive tool that continues to provide useful information for years after it is performed,” Louanne Hudgins, M.D., president of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, stated in H&HN. “Because of these advances, therapy and management of these diseases are much improved – [and] the idea that there is no treatment for genetic disorders is just not true anymore.”

Keeping an eye on the big picture

“Every drug is different when it interacts with every human body, so what works well for one person may not work well for another,” SAP’s Flannagan said. “It also has to do with what other medications they’re taking – so you can imagine trying, as a doctor or a pharmacist, to keep all of that information in your system.”

Myriad factors – a patient’s weight, age, blood pressure, preexisting conditions, etc. – make optimized real-time prescription terribly difficult, according to Flannagan. As a result, physicians tend to prescribe what has worked for other patients in the past, as opposed to treating the individual, as precision medicine would dictate.

This underscores the importance of pharmacists in precision medicine.

“Pharmacists provide value to clinical decisions for precision medicines because they understand and can manage patients’ entire drug profile,” Murray Aitken, executive director of the QuintilesIMS Institute, stated in The Pharmaceutical Journal. “Pharmacists are also point-of-care references for dosing and administration, and can advise on potential side effects.”

IoT keeping medication safe and secure

“Pharmacists must be prepared for some unique challenges associated with precision medicine – among these challenges is the safety of these medicines,” stated Aitken, who is also co-author of this year’s report Upholding the Clinical Promise of Precision Medicine. “Therapies included in our analysis showed that 41% were associated with black box warnings for serious adverse events that can require specialized monitoring by trained clinicians.”

Increasingly, personalized medicines intensify the need for a completely connected and transparent global healthcare supply chain, according to Supply Chain Digital last month. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can monitor location, temperature, light exposure, humidity, barometric pressure, and shock, as well as security to guard against theft and counterfeiting.

Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can track personalized medication that requires special handling, monitoring a parcel’s location, temperature, light exposure, humidity, barometric pressure, and shock. They can also guard against theft and counterfeiting.

“While supply chain control and visibility is important for all industries, it’s absolutely vital for the healthcare industry … imagine if a shipment holding medicine that was personalized for the DNA of a cancer patient was spoiled or stolen,” Supply Chain Digital stated. “You can’t pull a substitute off the warehouse shelf and ship it overnight.”

Changing society one patient at a time

Machine learning has the potential to dramatically improve patient outcomes when we use technology to look for patterns that a single physician couldn’t possibly see, according to SAP’s Flannagan. That’s because precision medicine requires examination of the entire population of data – from all of the patients and all of the healthcare providers.

“That’s the kind of learning that has the ability to really change society, and change the health of a large number of patients across a large number of health conditions,” Flannagan said. “But only when you’re able to bring the power of machine learning to that data.”

Learn how technology can play the lead role in heading off a serious medical disaster. See Heroes in the Race to Save Antibiotics.

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Is IoT the right prescription for getting patients to take their medicine?

IoT prescription for getting patients to take medicine?

Prescription drugs are a fact of life for millions of people worldwide. Some medicine is administered by healthcare professionals in clinics and hospitals; in other cases, it’s left to patients themselves to manage their own medication at home, particularly when it comes to long-term, chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Either way, it’s vital that patients stick to the prescribed regimes, taking their medicine at the right times of day and in the right doses, as directed by their physicians.

Sticking to doctor’s orders in this way is often referred to by healthcare professionals as ‘medication adherence’. A lack of it (or ‘non-adherence’), meanwhile, can pose serious risks to health, says Sean Handel, senior vice president at digital medicine specialist Proteus Digital Health.

“Medication non-adherence leads to uncontrolled health conditions, excess hospitalizations, emergency rooms visits and office visits,” Handel says. He reckons it’s costing the US healthcare system around $ 290 billion annually – and the problem is acute, he adds:

“More than 50 percent of prescribed medications are not taken as directed and providers lack accurate, timely adherence data necessary to diagnose non-adherence and its root cause and then allow the patient and provider to respond quickly to poor adherence.”

Read more: Qualcomm Life: Remote patient monitoring is a tonic for healthcare challenges

Better adherence

With that in mind, Proteus Digital Health offers Proteus Discover, billed by the company as ‘the world’s first digital medicine service’. This involves an ingestible, sensor-equipped pill which, on reaching the stomach, sends a signal to an accompanying patch, worn on the skin. Patients can use the Proteus Discover app to keep track of the medication they’ve taken and to set up reminders. Their healthcare practitioners, meanwhile, can monitor their adherence.

Proteus Discovery is just one example of how healthcare IoT could help to ensure that patients get the medicine they need. Although sometimes hampered by compliance and risks concerns or lack of funding, the IoT has quietly slipped into healthcare environments.

Improving drug delivery and adherence through these technologies is just one area of focus, much of it driven by technology start-ups. And at this early stage there seems to be more traction around medicine adherence than the automation of delivery – in other words, smart devices that automatically deliver a dose of a drug to a patient without any other human intervention.

For instance, last year saw E Ink – best known for making the screens on Amazon Kindle e-readers – partner with the healthcare division of smartphone manufacturer HTC and packaging specialist Palladio Group to design ‘smart’ labels for medicines. These provide patients with a reminder when it’s time to take their medicine, information on the quantity of medication left in the package, and an update on the time at which medication was last taken. They can also request a refill in the case of a repeat prescription, simply by pushing a button on the product label.

According to Dr Fy Gan of E Ink, the smart packaging label can be applied on a range of packaging, “from paperboard cartons to prefilled syringes to pill dispensers” in order “to improve medication-taking behaviors.”

AdhereTech, meanwhile, makes smart wireless pill bottles for tracking adherence, which use cellular technology and sensors to remind patients if they miss a dose through an automated phone call or text message.

Read more: Scalpel, clamp, VR headset: A surgeon’s quest to fix healthcare

Automating drug delivery

But more complex solutions are coming to market that seek to automate drug delivery itself. For instance, Chrono Therapeutics has developed a device worn on the arm or torso that syncs with a mobile app and monitors nicotine levels in the patient’s body. It can then auto-administer nicotine before cravings kick-in, as part of smoking cessation programmes.

Meanwhile, Microchips Biotech has developed implants that can store and release precise doses of drugs over extended periods of time – for months and even years, the company claims. Each implants contains hundreds of ‘micro-reservoirs’; these are small, hermetically sealed compartments, each of which can store up to 1 microgram of a drug.

The implant is activated by a wireless signal that triggers the micro-reservoirs to release the drug on a pre-programmed dosing schedule. These implants can also be built with bioelectric sensors which release drugs in response to physiological or metabolic changes in the patient.

Other tech, meanwhile, promises to bring more precision to the drug delivery process; Injeq’s new IQ-Needle smart needle, for example, is used for lumbar punctures (otherwise known as spinal taps) and gives an alert as the needle tip reaches its target – the spinal fluid. This helps to avoid an overly deep puncture and unnecessary tissue damage.

And with other areas being explored – such as smart inhalers and smart insulin pens such as the award-winning KiCopen – this is clearly a rapidly evolving space.

Read more: Internet of Things the ‘most powerful disruptor’ in healthcare

Patient power and challenges

Last year, ‘citizen health hacker’ Tim Omer, who has diabetes, told Internet of Business how he re-engineered his continuous glucose monitor to deliver real-time blood glucose measurements on his Android smartwatch. He believes that IoT technologies are generally moving healthcare in a positive direction.

“As a patient, the more I understand, the more control I have to review and analyse and use systems to assist me, the better I can manage my condition,” he tells Internet of Business.

But there will be challenges ahead. In the UK, for example, last year’s Wachter Review of the National Health Service’s use of IT highlighted the difficulty of reform, even in relatively straightforward areas such as the implementation of electronic healthcare records.

And as Tim Omer points out, the sheer number of IoT device vulnerabilities could spell trouble for medical devices that, above all, needed to be trusted.

“Security and the accuracy of the service needs to be fully tested,” says Dr Ramin Nilforooshan, consultant psychiatrist and lead clinician for the Surrey Borders Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM) project, in which people with dementia and their carers are being provided with wearables and other devices to monitor their health and wellbeing in their own homes.

These devices can, for example, detect if a patient has left the house, had a fall, is not eating or drinking normally or has used the bathroom more than usual. If the solution identifies a problem, an alert is issued that is followed up by a clinician or carer.

“We have received many positive reports from trusted users. Carers and people with dementia feel very supported with the idea of a monitoring system in place for them,” says Dr Nilforooshan. But when it comes to IoT drug delivery, he says, security could be the biggest challenge.

Other medical professionals, meanwhile, variously cite limited data usage, data integrity, information governance, network performance and regulatory requirements as potential barriers. But most still agree that the IoT has a lot to offer the health sector, improving patient care and outcomes.

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HIMSS17: US healthcare industry connects dots between AI, personalized care and precision medicine

At HIMSS17, Internet of Business’s Juan Monge attended IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote and caught up with Travis Frosch, GE Healthcare’s director for analytics and cybersecurity.

This year’s HIMSS, the largest gathering for health IT professionals in the US, was marked both by uncertainty over the prospect of profound regulatory changes and a sense of hope, as leading tech players in the health space such as IBM Watson, GE Healthcare, Optum and InterSystems showed how AI and IoT are key in facilitating personalized and precision medicine.

For years, the main preoccupations at HIMSS have revolved around electronic health records (EHRs) and how to mitigate cyber risk, but this year, there seemed to be a clear shift in focus: the future is cognitive, and it is becoming clearer to leaders across the health spectrum that AI can be the key to some of the greatest challenges currently being faced by the industry. These include the escalating cost of treatment for chronic diseases, the need to improve diagnosis accuracy and the importance of prioritizing prevention in defining a roadmap towards value-based care.

Read more: Healthcare professionals hit by Internet of Things reality check

The cognitive era is here

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty traveled to Orlando to offer one of the most hyped keynote sessions throughout these four days in February. Rometty noted this is a “a profoundly hopeful moment in time”, as the development of cognitive computing is bringing the opportunity to transform healthcare, bridging the gap between data and intelligence-informed strategies.

IBM is placing big bets on AI. “Cognitive healthcare is real, and it can change almost everything about healthcare”, Rometty said. “A competitive advantage is going to come from being cognitive. And this is not consumer-orientated, but something that really augments the intelligence on everyone in healthcare.”

Precision medicine

Rometty went on to detail several case studies in which IBM’s Watson cognitive technology has impactfully contributed to improving patient outcomes. For instance, Barrow Neurological deployed IBM’s Watson AI solutions to identify new genes linked to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), uncovering five genes that had never before been connected to the disease.  

Moreover, Rometty pointed to work already underway in China and India, densely populated nations where doctors are reducing the time it takes to gather patient data from 20 minutes to 20 seconds by using IoT.

She also highlighted IBM Watson’s partnership with the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center as a key example of the impact of cognitive computing on precision medicine: “In a thousand cases, and these were not standard cases, on almost 100 percent of the cases, doctors and Watson matched. But, in 30 percent, Watson found more clinically actionable items. That, to me, is what this is all about.”

IBM also took the opportunity to announce an agreement with Atrius Health to integrate cognitive capabilities into EHRs to deliver insights clinicians can use when treating patients at the point of care.

Read more: NHS testbeds show future of healthcare – but concerns linger on big data

Building through collaboration

Every year, the leading IoT innovators gather at HIMSS’ exhibitions floor to update the medical industry on their latest achievements and developments. But as Travis Frosch, GE Healthcare’s director for analytics and cybersecurity pointed out, learning and development in healthcare IoT is a two-way street, and tech vendors know that innovation always stems from a specific problem currently faced in the medical sector.

Frosch insisted on the importance of following the money when innovating: “You really need to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Is it a specific cost out of your system that doesn’t make sense? Are you over testing patients for no reason? Is it unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room? Is it claims denial?”

GE Healthcare has recently found that hospitals, on average, lose between 2 percent and 5 percent of net patient revenue to avoidable claims denials. Those denials are fixable with the help of DenialsIQ, an advanced analytics solution that uses machine learning capabilities to identify correctable denials and their cause.

“So one thing that is really important is the connectivity [that is necessary] to get the data, and you see a lot of start-ups that have innovative ways to connect and get data, but essentially, where we see a large competitive struggle is in the infrastructure. They [start-ups] may have the brain power, but they don’t have the body behind that. We have the industrial assets and the digital layer on top of that. We’re literally mining the industrial data from over half a million connected devices, in healthcare alone, to reduce cost and innovate on clinical effectiveness”, Frosch said.

Read more: Internet of Things the ‘most powerful disruptor’ in healthcare

IoT knowledge is transferable

Frosch also pointed out the importance of identifying transferable lessons across industries. “One tremendous asset we have at GE Healthcare is we’re building everything on the same platform, Predix. So that allows us to stimulate transferable lessons and learn from different industries.”

The Center for Digital Health Innovation at the University of California, San Francisco and GE Healthcare have collaborated to develop a library of deep learning algorithms that can empower clinicians to make faster and more effective decisions about the diagnosis and management of patients with some of the most common and complex medical conditions. These algorithms can be deployed worldwide via the GE Health Cloud and smart GE imaging machines.

“If we see an aviation algorithm that we think is useful, we can grab that algorithm, snap it into our solution and use the same orchestration engine. It’s like building a house out of Legos. Hey, you have a door on your part of the business – we need a door, too. Let’s grab that Lego door and snap it in there and we’re off and running. That’s one advantage we have as a big company; to utilize our breadth and our depth, but also our speed and our common infrastructure,” Frosch said.

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