Why the future of health care depends on personalization

As technology advances, interconnected, end-to-end consumer platforms connecting stakeholders across the health value chain can become a reality to deliver the NextWave of health sciences and wellness — the ultimate personalization at scale.

Anywhere Anytime Health Care session

At EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2019, mold-breaking entrepreneurs explored how to prepare for the NextWave of industries as new technologies fundamentally change traditional ecosystems and business models.

Here are some highlights of the discussion:

  1. Know what data you need and how to get it. By using health data from electronic health records, ever-cheaper genetic sequencing, wearables, apps and other digital devices, it’s already possible to build unprecedentedly complex and personalized pictures of every patient and tailor treatment accordingly. But first we need to capture and align all the data, which is currently locked up in multiple silos. This is especially difficult because the silos lack interoperability and are spread across different organizations that do not communicate with each other.
  2. Disease prevention, not treatment, is what’s needed. Today’s existing health care business and payment models reward treatment, but the patients, governments and companies that pay for health insurance want people not to get ill in the first place. These models need to change so that they pay for the prediction of illness and for interventions focused on patient behaviors — both of which are possible through AI and data — and eliminate the need for treatment. Keeping people healthy would unlock value in terms of productivity and the cost of medicines; this rationale should drive the new models.
  3. Understand how to change patient behavior to improve health. Helping patients requires capturing data from them. However, this presents privacy issues — for example, patients don’t want their refrigerator reporting their poor food choices to their doctor or insurer. The keys are to show the patients how this data can help them improve their health, to employ proven techniques such as gamification in helping them make better choices, and to reward them when they exhibit improvements — perhaps with lower insurance premiums if they adopt better habits or cash incentives if they avoid hospital stays.
  4. Increasingly digital and data-driven models will allow previously “irrelevant” players to deliver health care. If the key need is for data to predict, personalize and persuade, technology companies may be better positioned to deliver health care than traditional life sciences companies. With data coming from multiple sources and a wide range of lifestyle aspects impacting health, many companies have the potential to positively affect health because they already have the relevant data and access to patients/consumers. Companies making everything from clothing to consumer products will be in the game.
  5. Automate where appropriate. AI can take over significant areas of medicine, such as interpreting radiology and pathology images, running first-line assessments of patients, and remotely monitoring patients and predicting where things will go wrong. However, it may not be appropriate for functions like nursing: the element of human care and concern is irreplaceable and has major holistic impacts on the health of patients and populations. Educating a thousand nurses can likely lead to better outcomes than spending that money on high-tech drugs and devices.
  6. Digital, data-driven interventions can succeed where traditional medicine has largely failed in fields such as dementia. Efforts to develop new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease have failed. However, we can use technology in employing methods that are effective at slowing or counteracting the effects of the disease: monitoring and managing patients’ sleep to make sure they are getting enough; using gamification to help them incorporate exercise into their lifestyle; and helping them socialize through tele-health, remote contact with friends and relatives, and even robots. Drugs may help in treating dementia, but patient compliance is often an issue; “ingestible” sensors, which send alerts if patient haven’t taken their medication, can help combat this.
  7. To improve the world’s health, we need to approach the future differently. If we are genuinely interested in lifting health standards in the vast majority of the world, we should leverage advancements — including drones that deliver drugs and vaccines, and tele-health capabilities instead of brick-and-mortar clinics — instead of replicating the infrastructure-heavy health care approach of the past. Education is hugely effective in improving health, and smartphones and tele-health make disseminating health information easy. Making education both mobile and micro (involving short, preferably gamified modules) can have a huge impact on the baseline level of global health.

Thank you to our discussion leaders:

Glenn Keys AO, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Aspen Medical, and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Australia

Mary Lynne Hedley, PhD, President and COO, TESARO, Inc., and EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 United States

Louise Wilkie, EY Global Life Sciences Sector Strategy and Operations Leader

Christian Egle, EY GSA Health Sector Leader