E-health gives new lease of life to pharmaceutical industry
Written by Sarah Hanson, Deputy Head of the Lifesciences group, CMS Cameron McKenna
Many pharmaceutical companies are turning to e-health in a bid to survive the looming patent cliff and satisfy the growing pressure to deliver healthcare more cost-effectively and remotely at home. As blockbuster drugs come off patent, e-health provides the perfect opportunity for drug-makers to diversify their pipelines and tap into a new and fast-growing industry.This collaboration between the health and technology sectors is creating innovation and the potential for accessible and cost-effective quality healthcare across the world.
In recent months, e-health stories have focused on the obvious benefits to patients worldwide. In Britain, the government plans to roll out telemedicine services to three million homes, while for some conditions, such as stroke, patients can already be treated remotely when specialist doctors are not in the hospital. The impact in the Third World is even more significant. E-health is making it possible to deliver medical solutions to isolated areas where access to healthcare is otherwise limited.
Although the benefits for patients are significant, this is also provides great opportunities for businesses. For those wanting to dip a toe in the lucrative e-health pond, there are a number of challenges to be overcome. Technology and healthcare are both heavily regulated industries and satisfying the demands of both can be a complicated affair. Traditional pharmaceutical companies will have to get their heads around an entirely new set of rules and regulations and be mindful that products that meet the required medical standards might not do the same for technical standards, and vice versa.
Data protection is a particularly important issue to consider because e-health systems usually involve the processing of sensitive patient information. Healthcare professionals worldwide operate under strict patient confidentiality rules which must be adhered to just as rigorously in the case of computerised medical records as for face to face meetings between doctor and patient. In fact, a recent directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare expressly mentions e-health, making it clear that providers must comply with the EU’s Data Protection Directive.
The medical devices regulatory system is also undergoing a major revision and we expect a particular focus on the integration of medical devices in e-health systems, especially personal and mobile health systems. This regulation is also increasing in terms of scope. In the past, the European Commission did not apply its ‘Medical Devices Directive’ to certain kinds of software, such as computerised medical records, but in recent years a number of national regulatory bodies have revisited the issue, placing greater emphasis on the use of software.
The challenges for the e-health sector are complex but the potential rewards could be huge, especially for beleaguered pharmaceutical companies in need of a new lease of life. Whether they will finally succeed will have much to do with whether they can satisfy the demands of two industries and negotiate the complex legislation that regulates them to bring a new generation of healthcare practice to a growing number of global patients.
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.