Patient needs are changing - is the answer precision medicine?
23 January 2020
Having started out as ‘intuition medicine’ centuries ago, which focused on signs and symptoms, medicine has steadily evolved into the present day evidence-based system we all know which prioritises large scale clinical trials.
We are now experiencing the next major shift. The healthcare system and its participants are moving from conventional reactive approaches based on indicators, analysis and treatment toward a system that aims to identify diseases before they appear and, and if they cannot be avoided, considers them in an individualised manner.
To understand the implications of this shift, we interviewed 20 industry experts in individual sessions. As both the shift and the resulting implications are complex and far-reaching, we captured this diversity by including a variety of healthcare stakeholders such as pharmaceutical and medical device companies, regulators, physicians and academics.
What needs to happen to realise the potential of precision medicine?
Greater patient involvement with support and education
An overwhelming majority of participants referenced the changing role of the patient in decision-making, data aggregation and collaboration. This includes a more active role in discussions with clinicians, providing more information, as well as consenting to data being aggregated and used.
Patients will benefit from being more closely connected and less passive in prevention and treatment pathways, but crucially for this new ecosystem to succeed they will need education and support to empower them to make the right decisions. Without this precision medicine will not live up to its potential.
The underlying structure of the healthcare ecosystem will need to change significantly
It will constitute more players, both traditional, and non-traditional (e.g. machine learning services mining data from electronic health records or firms offering cloud-based storage and analytics for health data) which in turn will require increased collaboration.
Precision medicine will not only affect every stage of the patient journey but also their interactions, so incumbents must also adjust their existing business models and innovation approaches. The journey is too fast and complex for a single company to go it alone in the medium or long term. Without sufficient adjustments and new ways of thinking, current heavyweights will be too slow to adapt and could be overtaken by faster-moving companies and new entrants.
It is clear that the regulatory framework must significantly adapt in order to cope with and foster precision medicine. It is important to note that many adjustments can be made within the existing frameworks already and doing so is crucial for accelerating the transition.
There is also a call for a shift in the mind-set of regulators to accept results that may not be statistically proven in the traditional sense and for regulatory frameworks to rely on more non-clinical work, novel and adaptive clinical trial design, as well as single arm studies. More data post authorisation and post drug licences are also expected.
Four bold steps that pharma and medical device companies can take to create a competitive advantage:
1. Listen to the customer, not only at the end but especially from the beginning.
While many industries already include their end-customers early on, pharma and medical device companies still have to find ways to consistently do this in a complex research and development process. Empowered patients will support companies to identify the real product and service requirements. Through their specific insights, healthcare players will be able to offer exactly what is needed.
2. Capture the narrative.
In the near future, patients will no longer focus on individual treatments or drugs but increasingly pursue a holistic therapy approach. To succeed, companies need to focus on the overall outcome as the individual puzzle pieces receive less appreciation and customer attention.
3. Embrace patient empowerment.
Our research has identified patient education as a crucial point for the sustainable success of precision medicine. Companies can generate trust and loyalty, not only from the customer but from all stakeholders, through actively supporting patient empowerment and providing reliable education. Trusted partners offering outstanding health consulting expertise, will provide a leading-edge value proposition.
4. Define a corporate mindset that supports precision medicine.
Organisations must think in holistic ways. The winners of the precision medicine world will be the companies that are able to develop and acquire the capabilities to be agile, to demonstrate a high affinity for data, and to be end-customer oriented.
In the healthcare system of the future, capturing increased patient involvement in decision-making, data aggregation and collaboration is fundamental to success. As there are still features of the new ecosystem that must be defined, there are still many opportunities for all healthcare players to actively shape it and collectively share in the resulting benefits.
Find out more about what precision medicine entails, how it will transform the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, and how the future of the healthcare system will be shaped in our videos, insights and articles.