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Listening to patients - EY - Global

Progressions 2012

Listening to patients

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With access to the experience of other patients, site users can better understand how to navigate their medical conditions and their medications.
  Itzik Lichtenfeld, PhD
  First Life Research Ltd.,
Co-founder and Chief of Innovation

Today, patients are participating in — literally — billions of health-related discussions online. Yet, so far, there has been no way to aggregate patient voices across multiple websites and understand the bigger picture. In September 2011, First Life Research launched its social media search platform, Treato, to fill this gap. Treato uses "big data" technology to collect enormous amounts of data from social media sites and, with advanced natural language processing, analyzes this information, connects the dots and creates the big picture of what patients are saying about their medications and conditions.

For example, we can pinpoint the top patient concerns for virtually any FDA-approved drug, identify drug switching patterns and unearth often surprising insights on side effects and off-label use.

Just two months after our launch, we had analyzed more than 1 billion posts. This is the first time that the social health web has been indexed on such a massive scale. The Treato site currently covers 13,000 conditions and 11,000 medications, with information aggregated and categorized in an easy-to-understand format.

We believe the site will revolutionize how stakeholders share information and make health care decisions. Treato's insights stem from real-life patients and their real-time experiences. By providing access to our knowledge base, we are empowering stakeholders along the health care value chain — certainly patients, but also physicians, health maintenance organizations, life sciences companies and others — to better understand patients and their experiences.

A patient-centric business model

Currently, our business model is built on offering a completely free-of-charge, and free-of-ads, service. We will generate revenue by developing partnerships with entities along the health care value chain that have a constant need to understand patient motivations — for example, pharma companies, HMOs, drug-related research groups, and insurance and financial companies. We will provide them with in-depth analytics and tracking capabilities to better leverage the power of this information.

Our value proposition is based on patient centricity. Ultimately, patients know best how they react to the medications they have been taking. With access to the experience of other patients, site users can better understand how to navigate their medical conditions and their medications. Also, if they are considering switching brands, they can easily compare competing medications. Access to this information empowers not only patients to manage more of their health care themselves but also physicians and drug companies to hone their focus on patient-centric care.

Listening to your customers

Treato offers the opportunity for life sciences companies to better understand the effectiveness, side effects and interactions of their products. Even though the industry has invested considerable time and effort in rigorous clinical trials, results are typically limited to a sample size of a few hundred or a thousand subjects at best. Consequently, when a product hits the market, many side effects are unknown. We are providing, in essence, the world's largest focus group.

Today, strong currents are shifting the life sciences industry in new directions. Personalized medicine is tailoring medical treatment to the genetic profile of the individual patient. At the same time, technology platforms such as Treato are leveraging the "wisdom of crowds" to provide more meaningful real-time data on patient experiences with medical interventions.

These trends will reinforce each other, accelerating the move to micro-targeted health care. This should increase the efficacy of products and reduce side effects — leading to better outcomes for patients and a more efficient health care system for all.

This article was featured in our report Progressions 2012 - the third place: health care everywhere.

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Progressions 2012: health care everywhere
Progressions 2012: health care everywhere
Disruptive innovations and unsustainable costs are propelling life sciences companies into the behavioral change business. Learn why in our annual life sciences report.

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