Game-Changing Innovation Is Within Reach for Healthcare & Life Sciences Companies

Game-Changing Innovation Is Within Reach for Healthcare & Life Sciences Companies

Posted on April 30, 2018 0 Comments
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Businesses across the healthcare ecosystem—from payers to pharmas—are struggling to become modern, data-driven organizations. Bill Fox, MarkLogic’s Chief Strategist for Global Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Insurance, will be hosting a panel discussion at MarkLogic World that addresses this and other hot topics across these industries. I caught up with him to get the details …

A Meeting of the Minds in Healthcare & Life Sciences

Q: MarkLogic World 2018 is right around the corner. I understand that you’re hosting the healthcare and life sciences panel discussion. What topics will you cover? Who should attend, and why?

MarkLogic World this year is going to be a good time and a great opportunity for learning. I’ll be hosting a healthcare and life sciences panel on Wednesday, May 9, and I encourage people in both of these consolidating industries to join us for this discussion. The talk will be all about innovation and what our customers are doing to make measurable differences within their own organizations. We’ll get to hear from industry experts whose companies are using MarkLogic to improve data management and drive innovation. These leaders will share their unique insights on a number of topics with us, including the industry impact of healthcare transformation, better ways for generating real world evidence, and the development of Consumer 360 data hubs.

Based on the conversations I have with customers, it’s clear that there isn’t an organization in the ecosystem that’s not thinking about how to become a more modern, data-driven organization. But for many, taking the initial first steps toward achieving this transformation is proving difficult because they’re thinking about how hard that change is going to be from a framework they’ve been forced into by legacy technology over the last 25 years. In their experience, critical projects are usually expensive, time-consuming, and often go off the rails. So, I think this panel will provide a real world platform for gaining new insights into what’s working and what’s not from some leading organizations that have already taken the difficult first steps toward achieving this transformation.

Q: Who are the co-panelists?

Our panelists are an impressive group of leaders within their organizations and across their industries. They include Scott Christman, Deputy Director/Chief Information Officer, Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD); and Richard Bemis, Senior Director, Office of Technologyat LA Care Health Plan. We expect the talk to be an inspiring and worthwhile conversation for everyone.

Real World Evidence and the Drug Approval Process

Q: You mentioned that real world evidence would be one of the topics of discussion. There seems to be an increasing amount of news around real world evidence over the past few years. Why?

In one sense, real world evidence is exactly what it sounds like—evidence that doesn’t come from a highly-controlled clinical trial conducted for the specific purpose of getting a drug approved for a specific condition under particular diagnostic parameters. When that drug gets approved and it goes into the real world, doctors are free to prescribe it for whatever they want to. After that, we very often find two things:

  1. The occurrence of many side effects and adverse events that didn’t happen during the clinical trial.
  2. And, that approved drugs can also be great at treating conditions that were not tested during the clinical trial but have been shown to be effective in real world use by a wider group of patients.

So, for example, if a blockbuster drug comes out for arthritis and it turns out that because this drug deals with the inflammatory pathway it is also effective for Alzheimer’s—we want to know this. We want to know that there are 50,000 people who are being prescribed a drug for something other than its FDA-approved usage, and it seems to be working great, without bad side effects or excessive risk.

Can a pharmaceutical company then take this new evidence to the FDA to get that drug approved for this other condition without going through the seven-year, $2.5 billion drug discovery and clinical trial process? Well, given the FDA’s pronouncements that the clinical trial system is broken, and that they’re going to start using real world evidence in the drug approval process—that’s the hope. Everyone’s extremely excited about what bringing real world evidence into the mix can mean.

Q: Everyone? Who are the stakeholders here?

The benefits of real world evidence effect stakeholders across the board. We discussed the potential benefits in Pharma, but payers are going to start asking these pharmaceutical companies for real world evidence when they want to get a drug on the formulary or when they’re negotiating price. Payers will want to see what’s happened with the drug in the last year since it was FDA-approved, not just the clinical trial results that they’ve already been shown. Real world evidence is obviously important for providers because they’re the ones who are actually prescribing the drug. It’s also useful for health economics outcomes research. So yes, real world evidence should be crucial and central to how we think about treating patients moving forward. The clinical trial will remain the gold standard, so we’re not going to stop having them. But, as we increase the ability to store, integrate, and analyze real world data flowing in from a growing number of sources, evidence on what’s happening with the drug in the everyday world is growing in importance.

Everyday Challenges With Real World Data

Q: You mentioned that real world data comes from different sources. What challenges does this present?

There are quite a few of them … data access is a challenge. It would be great if you could just collect all the data you knew about patients—all of their healthcare data, all their demographic data, where they live, their income, their lifestyle, what food they eat, where they bought that food, what restaurants they go to, how much exercise they get, their Fitbit feedback, and so on. If you had access to all this data and could pull it all together, you’d get a tremendously useful picture for healthcare practitioners and pharmas to use for treatment. But gathering all of this information leads straight into serious HIPAA, privacy and security considerations. Rules governing patient privacy and data security are in place for reasons that have really come to the forefront in the last couple of months. I’ve read a couple of articles recently detailing how Facebook had a doctor quietly going around trying to make deals to get patient data for research. Obviously, with the current data privacy debacle going on at Facebook, that project has been killed.

Think about the tremendous amount of patient real world data available to payers. Payers have access to all patient information, and they actually know the identity of patient A, B, and C. Thus, it’s critical that this data is properly used and protected. So, data governance and security pose a challenge as well.

That said, the immediate challenge for life sciences companies is figuring out what data is relevant, how it’s relevant, what data needs to be integrated together, how to weight these different inputs, and understand how to use this information to accelerate drug discovery, improve treatments, and reduce negative drug interactions, adverse reactions, etc.

What’s Ahead for Life Sciences Companies?

Q: Are there any trends or changes that you foresee coming down the road for life sciences companies?

From the drug discovery side, there’s a lot going on in terms of acquiring interesting molecules and genomes. So, life sciences companies are looking into startups—and at times even spending billions of dollars to buy a promising startup. They’re also going to be looking much more at translational research, real world evidence, and how they can bring in data from outside of the traditional clinical trial milieu and incorporate it to make drug development and approval processes shorter, less costly, and more productive—and the product more efficacious and safer out in the market.

And, of course, life sciences companies are always working to develop the next blockbuster drug that will help millions of people with a major disease. Today, they’re right out in front in trying to leverage AI machine learning, and next-generation, multi-model data platforms, like MarkLogic’s, to accomplish this as quickly as they can.

Join Us at MarkLogic World in May

Leaders in every industry are transforming their organizations into agile, efficient, data-driven enterprises. To learn how they’re doing it, join us at MarkLogic World in San Francisco, May 7-10, 2018. It’s FREE! Visit us at to register.

Learn More

WatchUsing Big Data to Run Your Pharma Business  Pharmaceutical companies are pivoting from traditional service-oriented architectures to combining data from multiple operational silos in real-time to more efficiently run the business.

ReadHow Can Enterprise NoSQL Advance Analytics in Life Sciences? Adverse event data is often buried in mounds of information, requiring extensive filtering that can take hours just to find it. Learn how MarkLogic enables data scientists to quickly narrow down datasets to just the “features of interest,” reducing the time it takes to get data to the machine learning aspects of signal detection.

Listen: Cambridge Healthtech Institute: Accelerating Real World EvidenceIn this podcast, Alison Profitt, Editor of Bio IT World, joins Bill Fox, CTO, and Imran Chaudhri, Chief Solutions Architect, to discuss what makes real world evidence projects unique, and how their specific challenges present opportunities for collaboration across the ecosystem. More than just theoretical, this talk goes deeper to address the technical implications for accelerating real world evidence development.

Fiona Ehret-Kayser

View all posts from Fiona Ehret-Kayser on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.


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