Our Monthly Roundup of Healthcare Industry News
Healthcare apps represented at Facebook’s F8 Conference…
At this week’s Facebook F8 Conference featured Practo’s Founder and CEO Shashank ND spoke on the Studio Panel with two other India-based companies about his Indian startup responsible for providing a search portal matching doctors with patients and other digital services. This is the number one doctor search engine in Asia used by millions of patients, while thousands of doctors manage appointments and digital healthcare records every year through Practo Ray.
Practo has been around since 2008 and recently closed a $90 million Series C round led by China’s Tencent. It is now honing its focus on hospitals’ needs since purchasing healthcare management firm Insta Health for $12 million.
Later that afternoon, LifeSum COO Marcus Gners spoke at F8’s Studio Panel with leading Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) companies.
Lifesum is a Stockholm-based app—just like Spotify, Candy Crush, and Skype by the way— which was named as a Best of 2015 app by Apple in multiple international app stores. The lifestyle altering app was also a launch partner for the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2.
Health-oriented features include an exercise database with over 200 calorie-burning activities, a barcode scanner for food intake data, and third-party friendly data, so you can sync your fitness information with apps like Runkeeper, Fitbit, and Withings.
As Facebook rolls out their new developer tools, showcasing these internationally acclaimed healthcare app partners is an absolute no-brainer.
Pfizer + IBM partner to revolutionize Parkinson’s Care…
Through an experimental approach, these business giants are beginning a unique research collaboration journey, targeted to find innovative remote monitoring solutions to transform clinicians’ care for those living with Parkinson’s disease.
With the help of a system of sensors, mobile devices, and machine learning to share 24/7 real-time disease symptom data with healthcare professionals and researchers. The mission at hand is to better understand the patient’s disease progression and medication response for more informed treatment decisions and clinical trial designs, and simultaneously expediting new therapeutic options’ development.
IBM’s Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research Arvind Krishna explained, “With the proliferation of digital health information, one area that remains elusive is the collection of real-time physiological data to support disease management. We are testing ways to create a system that passively collects data with little to no burden on the patient, and to provide doctors and researchers with objective, real-time insights that we believe could fundamentally change the way patients are monitored and treated.”
Initial clinical testing of the system is anticipated to happen very soon. The two companies will organize an external advisory board of patient groups, advocacy organizations, clinicians, and neuroscientists for guidance on the use of technology, medical devices, data management, and research protocols to ensure the needs of the patients can drive the direction of this program.
“We have an opportunity to potentially redefine how we think about patient outcomes and 24/7 monitoring, by combining Pfizer’s scientific, medical and regulatory expertise with IBM’s ability to integrate and interpret complex data in innovative ways, noted President of Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D.
“The key to our success will be to deliver a reliable, scalable system of measurement and analysis that would help inform our clinical programs across important areas of unmet medical need, potentially accelerating the drug development and regulatory approval processes and helping us to get better therapies to patients, faster.”
Big data gives cancer new hopes…
Genome sequencing of cancerous tumors is generating enough data to fill massive warehouses. This information is the key to new tools to understand and identify cancer’s genetic roots.
New capabilities include the ability to see who is predisposed to develop this disease, which can realign drug companies’ and clinicians’ goals to fight, manage, and cure nearly 200 types of cancer.
Much of the data collected is unanalyzed due to a lack of direction in how to pursue data-driven research, but all of this could soon bring new discoveries within sight.
The environment “is exciting, but frustrating. While we all see what big data could potentially do, we’re frustrated because we don’t yet have all the tools or fully understand how to use it,” explains Chief Scientific Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Dr. Barrett Rollins.
In The State of Cancer Care in America from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the report notes “profound turbulence” as the onslaught of “information overload” is hard to make sense out of. Clinicians, it says, don’t have answers to questions concerning the many pros and cons of genetic screenings and how they affect selection of treatments.
Low participation in clinical trials hinders research goals…
Whether it’s ignorance or reluctance, patient participation in clinical trials is at an all-time low and consequently, the development of development of new medicine is held up.
According to the Wall Street Journal, studies show that less than 10 percent of Americans are participating in clinical trials. When it comes to new cancer therapies, only 3 to 5 percent of patients sign up for trials.
Doctors may neglect to mention these clinical trials, patients are left unaware, and just to further fuel the climate of low participation, some patients harbor mistrust and fear of the research process.
The complicated rules and requirements aren’t helping the cause. Once a patient does volunteer, eligibility and protocols can dishearten the hopeful. It’s no surprise that 40 percent of clinical trials are not recruiting enough patients to meet their goals.
In March, the National Institutes of Health partnered with the Food and Drug Administration to release new format proposal for researchers to use when preparing study protocols for some drugs that must be submitted for approval. It clarifies a clear purpose, risks, benefits, recruitment and retention strategies, and the time that will be required from patients participating in the study
“Too often scientists are focused on designing a perfect clinical trial to answer a scientific question, but ignore the importance of attracting patients to that study,” Neal Meropol, chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland explains.
The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative—also known as CTTI— is a public-private consortium co-founded by the FDA and Duke University. The CTTI is getting ready to issue new recommendations to encourage closer collaboration between researchers and each “stakeholder” involved in clinical trials. This concerns patients, disease-specific advocacy groups, community organizations and local doctors who act as investigators on trials.