The advent of technology in healthcare represents a paradigm shift in the way diseases are viewed and treated. Technological advances contribute to improving people’s health by allowing the development of better drugs and molecular targets, while making it possible to bring treatments to market much earlier than expected. One of the greatest successes of technology in the healthcare industry is the integration of personalized medicine. It is a type of medicine that uses technology to diagnose diseases early, while allowing patients to be diagnosed accurately and comprehensively.
This is one of the issues tabled in the lab ‘Technology in Health Care: Challenges and Objectives’. Organized by elEconomista.es and Globant. “Technology today plays a fundamental role in enabling prevention, early diagnosis, better utilization of resources and clinical impact for patients. Collaboration and investment in technology must be deepened among all actors in the public-private healthcare ecosystem. Short and long-term financial variables”, Healthcare & Life-Sciences at Globe Managing Director Agustin Llamas confirms. While referring to the need to ‘super-customize’ the patient in line with personalized medicine, Lamas confirmed that one-third of the population has limited access due to reimbursement factors.
“Personalized medicine guarantees the sustainability of resources. In lung cancer, 70% of cases are diagnosed in advanced stages, where the disease is no longer curable. If it is detected in the early stages, those five-year survival years are multiplied by ten. In diabetes, the disease caused by diabetes includes diabetic edema, which is the main cause of blindness. .If it is detected early, blindness can be prevented in 98% of cases”, emphasizes Teresa Ramos, Head of Personalized Medicine at Roche Pharma Spain.
Experts agree on the importance of technology to prevent the onset of diseases. “Prevention has an impact in terms of medium and long-term health. If we technologically develop a good system that detects lung cancer at an early stage, we will have results within ten years. If technologies are used for good. Global populations, you have to bring them much earlier. To know if something is being done well, you We need to evaluate the results and emphasize technologies that do not produce the results we expected,” says Cesar Rodríguez, vice president of the Spanish Society. Medical Oncology (SEOM). José Luis Ruiz Revuelta, CIO of Sanitas and BUPA in Europe and Latin America, stresses the importance of data sharing while “medicine must be more personalized and access encouraged so that people are more cared for”. will be discovered. “Sharing and transcending what we have to do opens up opportunities for us,” he says.
“Technology has made us a lot of progress in the last 30 years, but we are facing a change in paradigm that has to keep up with all the technological changes that are happening. We are combining technology and processes in a healthcare system that requires vision. A process that goes wrong with digital technology is worse than a simple bad process. Technology is better. “It has allowed us to find molecular targets, develop better drugs, and bring them to market faster because they have genetic validation. We would develop drugs in some areas without that type of validation,” says Sara Petras, innovation lead at GSK Spain.
Also mentioned by Augustine Lama Globally, very little information is used in the health sector. “The biggest juice we can get from technology is data management. The health sector generates 30% of the world’s information, but only 1% of it is exploited. There’s a reality, and that’s mid-2023. It takes ten years to develop a drug, and then the average regional adherence to a chronic drug. three months. This may be based on the patient not being properly informed or the healthcare provider not providing support and follow-up. This ultimately creates indirect costs,” he affirms.
The integration of technology into all areas of society has spread the belief that it is dehumanizing the process. In this sense, the experts recalled that this does not happen, but certain limitations should not be crossed, such as announcing the bad news to the patient by phone. “We learned that telemedicine can be done during an epidemic, but we cannot deliver bad news over the phone. Technologies must be adapted to each patient’s profile and characteristics,” says Cesar Rodriguez. The patient profile is highly variable and it is increasingly common for them to want to actively participate in the process. In this way, there are patients with a higher level of training than others who are interested in the technologies that the healthcare professional uses to access their medical information.
“Going with the client and facilitating access is what we suffered most during the epidemic. But before Covid-19, telecommunications were not so common. Perhaps, the first diagnostic visit should have human contact, but technology can offer us many. Things,” says Jose Luis Ruiz Revolta. Likewise, remember that the purpose of wellness is not only to cure diseases, but also to ensure that healthy habits are encouraged. An example is smart watches that allow you to track your lifestyle and even your blood pressure. Once the patient is well-identified and treated, home care and telephone contact can be as close as possible to the health care system.
The concept of pharmacoeconomics has also come to light in the laboratory. This tool is defined as an economic evaluation of medicines and aims to ensure more efficient processes in the healthcare system.. In this way, it prioritizes those treatment options that have the most positive impact on the system. The rationale for this approach derives from the potential trade-off criterion, meaning that if the positive effects outweigh the negative ones in absolute terms, the gain for the winners outweighs the loss for the losers. Hence, the former can offset the latter. This concept allows health professionals to reflect and be aware of the clinical and economic consequences of their decisions and act with responsible independence, but without losing their decision-making capacity. “Pharmacoeconomics, models based on shared risk models or outcome indicators, are tools based on basic data today, to increase and accelerate access to innovative treatments throughout the population, making better use of the limited resources of the ecosystem. public-private. This brings us back to the need for investment in data and enabling platforms. “The clinical and budgetary impact, even in the short term, can be a change to the ecosystem,” Llamas asserts. To emphasize the importance of this concept, he gives many examples where technology can speed up processes.
The role of AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) allows early diagnosis of diseases in asymptomatic patientss. In turn, this will change the process of discovery and development of new drugs. This tool has already made it possible to develop vaccines or modify existing drugs in a short period of time. Experts believe that with simple AI algorithms, waiting lists can be prioritized to see which patients can be operated on earlier and who attends the clinic on their scheduled appointment day.
“AI helps us prioritize and allocate resources to where they are most needed and where we can make the biggest impact in the shortest possible time. AI tools used in radiological imaging enable us to be layered and fine-tuned,” says Teresa Bouquets. The integration of AI contributes to improvements in patients’ quality of life. For this reason, the sector invested around 8,000 million euros in the integration of this tool. By 2021, 30% of drugs approved by the FDA will be technology. In terms of benefits, it achieves a revolution in all areas by increasing efficiency and income and reducing costs and risks. “AI makes it possible to improve recruitment in trials. Technology is changing this model, but we need to rethink how we create value. Technology is a facilitator, but we need to find a role for it,” says Sarah Petras. In the era of digitization and big data, one of the key challenges is to address the conflict between collaboration and data sharing and privacy. This can be a major brake, leading to a conflict between the public good and the privacy of each individual.
Another application of AI in the healthcare sector is called ‘digital twins’ (digital twins). A digital double is an exact digital copy of a process, product or physical system. It is an accurate representation (in the digital world) of what happens in the life cycle of our physical system, and therefore allows us to simulate variations in input parameters, operating errors, etc. In other words, it allows us to simulate behavior during changes or failures that would be too expensive or difficult to simulate in the “real world”. This is one of the biggest advantages, among others, preventing risk situations through real-time performance data or predictive models.
As this is integrated, it is necessary to educate the actors involved so that they embrace the dynamics and demonstrate the benefits of the practice. To do this, it is necessary to configure information that is tailored to the patient, what they can consume and adapted to their own language. Today, despite its great potential, there is still a lot of skepticism about it, especially due to data anonymization processes.
“There is a lot of skepticism about the anonymization of data, but the potential of ‘digital twins’ is enormous. The positive thing is that the technologies actually exist today to anonymize and protect data,” says Lamas. Finally, Globent’s Global Managing Director of Healthcare & Life-Sciences emphasized the importance of educating people to understand their potential.