May 17, 2020

There is an urgent need and a huge opportunity to embrace Life Sciences 4.0, report claims

Catherine Sturman
3 min
Life Sciences 4.0 (Getty Images)
The need to create value-based, personalised digital tools and services has never been more important within an ever-evolving world. However, the health...

The need to create value-based, personalised digital tools and services has never been more important within an ever-evolving world. However, the healthcare industry remains ripe for innovation, with potential on every level to support healthcare providers and organisations to deliver exceptional patient care.

A report by Ernest & Young has thoroughly illustrated the need for life sciences companies to implement data centric platforms to improve health outcomes and ensure a reduction in escalating healthcare costs on a global scale. The product will no longer be the main figurehead to drive value, but patient outcomes.

Whilst other industries have embraced technological innovation, consumers are now demanding increased access and control to their healthcare data to feel empowered, as well as gain the ability to share health data with others. Healthcare providers and payers are therefore continually looking at new, innovative ways to unlock value, combining data to look at new opportunities based on consumer need and therefore, implement data-driven platforms of care.

The CVS Health and Aetna acquisition in 2017 signalled a move towards increased collaboration between healthcare and insurance providers and has led to a flurry of mergers since. Cognizant’s recent acquisition of Bolder Healthcare Solutions, Cigna’s $67bn acquisition deal with Express Scripts and Cerner’s decision to partner with Salesforce (announced following the HIMSS18) are some of note.

As David Redfern, Chief Strategy Officer of GlaxoSmithKline, has predicted, “Some form of platform that uses data analytics that will be the catalyst for change in health care. What if Google becomes a major insurance company and drives more precise outcomes measurements based on data?”

Technology companies are therefore looking to the healthcare industry with increased interest to hone in on the user experience and provide solutions based on convenience.

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Apple is looking to enhance the health capabilities of its Apple Watch technology and aims to turn the iPhone into a medical device specialised in cardiology. The company has also partnered with a number of US hospital providers to enable US citizens to gain access to their individual health records through its mobile app and launched its own medical clinics for its employees and their families.

Additionally, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are now investing in this space to challenge rising healthcare costs through creating digital solutions in a new partnership. The news sent shockwaves through the industry and has led to companies to look at increased ways of catering to consumer demands, and in some cases, merging with like-minded companies to fully cement their position in the market for the future.

Amazon is also quietly looking at entering the pharmaceutical space, much to the concern of traditional companies.

“Many consumers struggle to afford new medicines or devices.  As life spans increase, public and private payers struggle to fund health systems that can provide high-quality care to their oldest and most frail,” the report has highlighted.

“Companies developing different applications, products or tools will join forces to create platforms of care that address specific health needs. Above these individual platforms of care, global technology, AI and data analytics companies will combine skills to become “platform aggregators,” enabling technologies to scale insights gained at the platform of care level,” the report added.

“AstraZeneca, for instance, has partnered with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to use the tech company’s AI capabilities to safeguard the medical supply chain and improve disease education and chronic disease management. In addition to global technology players, governments have a role to play in developing regulations that promote the safe and appropriate sharing of data."

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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