New Technology Empowers Smarter Healthcare

It’s thrilling to bring new materials and technologies to life in products that have a real impact. We’re creating new devices across the continua of discovery and development, diagnostics, drug delivery, and monitoring. And we are leveraging sophisticated data tools to make the devices themselves smarter while they contribute to what we have been calling “smarter healthcare”. This third in a series of four posts shares some high-level thoughts on how new technologies are enabling improvements across this spectrum of care. We look forward to hearing your ideas too.

As we help develop and commercialize tools that improve the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare, our teams at Popper & Co and Key Tech challenge ourselves on an ongoing basis:

  • How does a particular innovation redefine disease?
  • How much “precision” is clinically meaningful?
  • How is value defined by various stakeholders?
  • How do we integrate universal design and commercial considerations very early in the process?

Key Tech designs products for a broad spectrum of “precision” and “personalized” use cases, from the devices used to diagnose disease, to therapy delivery devices that will allow patients to self-administer biologics and chemotherapy cocktails at home. Success means commercializing diagnostic and therapy solutions that are better and lower cost.

Tools for Discovery of Disease and Alignment with Therapies

In order to better understand and apply new biology insights, researchers harness new technologies such as highly sensitive and specific multiplex PCR amplification, next-generation sequencing, targeted molecular diagnostics, and spatial genomics to investigate the disease, the patient/host and the activity of the immune system. Because these technologies generate mountains of data from highly complementary orthogonal perspectives, data tools become crucial and increasingly sophisticated.  Thus we are involved in interesting conversations about data protection and data ownership (also big issues to be tackled very early in the development process).

The powerful combination of post-processed genetic data and similarly acquired and curated social determinants of health is producing discoveries of increasingly singular patient therapies customized to the individual level, at a lower cost than ground-up methods.   At the research end of things, our contribution is to collaborate with scientists doing the foundational work and to create tools for them that enable discovery and that can evolve and migrate beyond discovery into clinical practice.

Tools for Reducing the Scope and Cost of Clinical Trials

With the rise of targeted therapies, successful developers are able to streamline clinical trials integrating many of the same technologies and processes used during discovery. Using new semiconductor-based genomic platforms, microfluidics, single cell technologies, and tissue analytics, and adding wearable tools borrowing from consumer electronics, they are able to:

  • Identify, focus on, and validate ever smaller patient subpopulations most likely to benefit from the therapy, often adapting the trial design while underway,
  • Prepare for therapy delivery and monitoring by tuning trial-use devices for better performance and ease-of-use, readying the devices for use later in the home,
  • Augment biological data collection with “digital biomarkers”; relevant behavioral data captured using mobile phone technology, non-invasive monitoring equipment, and comfortable patient wearables, and
  • Streamline trial administration using platforms such as Medable and Medidata, which use AI and advanced analytics to accelerate online trial management.

Each of these activities is imperative in reducing trial cost and duration, both of which reduce the cost of the ultimate clinical solution.

Tools for Improving Therapy Delivery and Monitoring  

Consumer-driven health technology is already improving patient adherence to therapies while also decreasing the cost of administration.  Considering the artificial pancreas as an early model, one learns that success turns on the patient’s ability, willingness, and comfort with self-administration of therapy at home, at work, and at play.   Connected home therapy delivery devices are becoming less obtrusive, easier to use, and even “fun”.  Just as consumers share their experiences across their retail and service activities, patients are increasingly sharing their experiences with peer groups and providers.

And importantly, patients are using technology to monitor their illness and wellness and are actively procuring and utilizing this information, which is leading to shopping behaviors resembling consumer markets. This has a profound impact on our device and systems design from usability, robustness, esthetics, and health information literacy perspectives.  We are creating wearable patient sample collectors and diagnostics, handheld infusion tools, biologics reconstitution kits, and connected sterilization units that support patient confidence in their own health maintenance, and communicate via comfortable electronic and cloud mechanisms that patients already rely on.

Jenny Regan

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