5 minute read 8 Mar 2019
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How we can unlock the power of data to redefine health

By

Pamela Spence

EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Industry Leader and Life Sciences Industry Leader

Ambassador for outcomes-based performance and healthy aging. Advocate for women.

5 minute read 8 Mar 2019
Related topics Health Digital AI Technology

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With emerging technology comes a new phase in healthcare: prevention first, treatment second.

The significant progress made in medical science during the past centuries has meant that we can now treat a wide range of chronic conditions. Examples of such conditions, which were often certain death sentences not so long ago, include cancer, dysentery, pneumonia, polio and tuberculosis. Among other developments, we also witnessed the discovery of penicillin, advances in plastic surgery, the invention of the contraceptive pill, which has helped to dramatically improve the health of women, and the increased use of prosthetic implants to replace human body parts.

In the 20th century, we achieved a huge amount in the healthcare space within a comparatively short period of time. However, in the 21st century, we are embarking on a new phase in healthcare – a phase that promises to be even more transformative and at a faster pace than the century that has gone before. In this phase, healthcare services will increasingly be provided on the basis of “prevention first, treatment second”. That’s because consumers increasingly expect to live longer, healthier lives as a result of rising living standards while developments in technology mean that the human body is emerging as an important data platform.

Unlocking the power of human data

There are 37.2 trillion cells in the human body, all of which have specialized functions and can convey unique messages about our health. Increasingly, we will be able to tap into these messages thanks to the development of transformative technologies such as nano science (which has the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules), wearable and implanted sensors, which use 5G technologies to connect with each other and with medical systems in real time. As a result, medical professionals will be able to harness the essential health data that that our cells provide in ways that were never possible before. They will also be able to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to the data that the sensors harness, making it easier to detect cell changes and other potential indicators of disease.

By unlocking the power of human data, medical professionals will gain comprehensive insight into our wellbeing and will have the opportunity to offer tailored personalized health services. For example, they will be able to advise us when we need to make micro decisions such as increase or decrease our medication, or make lifestyle changes for the sake of our health. Even more crucially, they will have the ability to make interventions at an early stage of an illness, preventing the condition from becoming chronic or possibly life-threatening later on.

Thanks to the combination of data and AI, the future of medicine will be far more focused on ‘health care’, rather than on ‘sick care’, as it is today.

Implications for health sciences and wellness companies

If that’s what the future looks like for patients and medical professionals, what are the implications for health sciences and wellness companies? In particular how will these companies’ business models enable truly personalized care – anytime, anywhere?

In my view, the companies that will succeed in future will invest in consumer-focused, data-driven health tools and solutions that are both easy to use and effective. They will also unlock the power of data in such a way that they can provide real-time, reliable and personalized insights into the health of an individual. Not only will this enable early intervention on the part of medical professionals, it will also avoid the application of interventions that aren’t likely to work and help to eliminate the likelihood of duplicative or unnecessary medical care. The expectations of consumers will influence business models since consumers will increasingly expect all the individuals and organizations that are involved with providing their healthcare to be able to interact with one another. Therefore, as technology advances, we will see a new reality: interconnected, end-to-end platforms that connect consumers with stakeholders across the health value chain. That will be the ultimate personalization at scale.

While there will be a greater focus on prevention going forward, treatment will inevitably continue to play a major role in health care. That’s why health sciences and wellness companies must also consider how they can use both data and AI to unlock behavior change that will enable the creation of 21st century ‘blockbuster medicines’ (medicines that generate at least $1b in revenues annually for the companies that produce them). Here smart infrastructure is key since interconnected technologies, both inside and outside the medical context, can help to reduce the pressure on medical services, free up idle capacity, and ensure that resources are deployed to the areas where they will make the most difference.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 40% of money spent on health care globally is wasted. That’s a shocking statistic. As an industry, we can reduce this waste by delivering better, and proven, health outcomes while also achieving measurable efficiency gains. We can also optimize our processes while using the latest technologies to redesign behaviors. Data and AI present us with a great opportunity to redefine the whole concept of health and simultaneously generate significant economic and social benefits for the world at large.

How do you get to next before next gets to you? Join EY to discuss how disruptive technologies will help businesses ride the next wave of future industry at MWC Barcelona 2019 – from 25 – 28 February. Join the debate using #NextWave, #BetterQuestions and #MWC19.

Summary

For the sake of all our health, we must make sure that we seize the opportunity to redefine health, reduce waste and generate significant benefits.

About this article

By

Pamela Spence

EY Global Health Sciences and Wellness Industry Leader and Life Sciences Industry Leader

Ambassador for outcomes-based performance and healthy aging. Advocate for women.

Related topics Health Digital AI Technology