Over the next decade, patients living with chronic conditions and rare diseases can expect groundbreaking new treatments, one-time cures and personalized therapies, a new report by the leading experts in the life sciences predicts.
“Cures will become the norm, not the exception for many diseases,” says Colin Wight, CEO of GalbraithWight, a global strategic market access consultancy firm specializing in health care. “Cancer will become, at worst, a chronic disease as we learn how to detect it very early via routine blood tests.”
Wight’s optimism comes as part of a report by MassBio, which represents more than 1,200 life sciences companies and organizations. The organization’s Value of Health Advisory Group examined the next ten years of innovation, access, value and reimbursements within health care.
Medical Innovation from Bigger & Better Data
From Amazon’s secret 1492 data lab to Google’s use of artificial intelligence to diagnose cancer, big data tops the list of most anticipated developments within healthcare over the next ten years.
“Right now, we are seeing the state of the industry being disrupted by better data and insights—this is sort of the evolution of “big data” from a few years back,” explains Terry Wilcox, executive director of Patients Rising and a member of MassBio’s Value of Health Advisory Group. “We will see this shift from an emphasis on data aggregation to a renewed emphasis on privacy, data quality, transparency, and the question of who owns patient, practice and physician data.”
Wilcox sees blockchain technology, which shares and stores data across all network participants, as a potential tool to make it easier for doctors and hospitals to exchange medical data.
“Blockchain technology can facilitate the transition from institution-driven interoperability to patient-centered interoperability,” writes Hyung-Jin Yoon, an associate professor in biomedical engineering at Seoul National University College of Medicine, in a 2019 article published in the Journal of Healthcare Informatics Research. “Blockchain technology allows patients to assign access rules for their medical data, for example, permitting specific researchers to access parts of their data for a fixed period of time.”
Patients can also expect an expansion of artificial intelligence to develop personalized care plans.
“Where we see AI having the most impact is in predicting individual patient trajectory and optimizing interventions (both therapeutic and non-therapeutic) at any given point in time,” explains Iya Khalil, Ph.D., Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder of GNS Healthcare. “The application of causal AI can be applied to uncover biomarkers of response, predictors of disease exacerbation and evaluation of efficacy for all therapeutics options available at the individual patient level.”
Will Patients Have Access to Life-Saving New Technologies?
As researchers in life sciences continue to add value to the healthcare system and improve patient lives, the greater challenge will be whether patients can access that life-saving innovation.
“We’re at an inflection point, with science that’s been tested for decades finally becoming a reality for patients and a payer system that has not caught up with this level of innovation,” MassBio’s Value of Health panel states. “The wave of incoming therapies and technologies are only impactful if patients have access, and that means addressing the value equation early in the development process and in a collaborative manner, considering the disparate needs of various stakeholders.”
New technologies – by old and new players in healthcare – are expected to cause major disruptions to how medicines are valued, with an even greater reliance on value-based agreements and health technology assessments.
“We’ve always known that drugs have different benefits in different patients,” points out Amitabh Chandra, Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at Harvard University, “but we’re finally at an era where we know much more about how patients with different indications respond to a drug.”
Chandra adds, “This creates a scenario where manufacturers can charge different prices depending on the indication and the patient, which can lower the price for less effective settings.”
Before personalized medicine can lower costs and improve patient health outcomes for individual patients, it will require overcoming the one-size-fits-all paradigm pushed by controversial cost appraisers, such as the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.
ICER primarily uses Quality Adjusted Life Years to assess treatments, which give all patients an assigned dollar value for what their life is worth. In turn, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers use ICER’s calculations to make coverage and reimbursement decisions.
“The biggest risk to continued biotech investment and innovation is groups like ICER,” warns Wilcox of Patients Rising, “particularly if they gain more of a political toehold.”
Learn More: MassBio’s Value of Health Series
- Part I: Defining Value
- Part II: Public Payers in the U.S. & Key International Markets
- Part III: Potential Disruptors’ Impact on the System