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Meet AI, The Doctor’s New Best Friend
AI insights will transform HCPs' practice in more ways than one, says Teva SVP Markus Leyck Dieken
Remember that time you unwittingly struck a deal with Amazon? In exchange for your data, you were added to its algorithms and then, hey presto, your days of scattershot ads were over. You upgraded to the era of personalisation.
Sadly, the experience often feels gimmicky: related item suggestions can be tenuous, the algorithms cannot compute the notion that you might be making a one-off purchase, and when someone else uses your account it tends to scupper the personalisation altogether.
So, what’s the point of data sharing? It often seems like a zero-sum game. Applied to the pharma industry however, the potential benefits are manifold. One such benefit is that artificial intelligence algorithms could sift through reams of patient data to deliver more personalised insights to the HCP.
Teva Pharmaceuticals is one such company advancing in this arena. The company has partnered up with AI giant IBM Watson with an aim to deliver much more precise diagnostic information to HCPs in the future. How? By combining IBM’s technical wizardry with Teva’s vast repository of data.
“There's a lot of implications for Watson Teva to be able to guide the patient and the doctor through much more than just the simple answers of ‘here's the pill for your disease’, we will go into greater complexity,” says Markus Leyck Dieken, SVP Global Head of CNS, Teva Pharmaceuticals.
“The nomenclature used nowadays for diseases like asthma or severe asthma is actually from the 19th Century, we believe that in the next 10 years we will all be able to diagnose much sharper and you will receive a very precise diagnosis, which will mean you have asthma of type X and Y with the genomic trend of chromosome X and Y,” he adds.
Naturally the more informed the patient becomes, the more agency they will have over their own treatment plan, Leyck Dieken predicts. “The moment of preparedness of coming into the office nowadays with a google print out, you will actually come back with not only your medical record - as is already now the case with over three million in the US but you will also in about 5 or 10 years come in with the genetic profile, which might be not your entire career, your entire genome, but it will be things like your metabolism and your liver, which indicates a lot of important information for drug interactions and you will provide that and will suddenly receive a much more precise diagnosis.”
This will fundamentally impact the relationship between the HCP and the patient, asserts Leyck Dieken. It will shift HCP attitudes to patients from a paternalistic mindset of ‘try this pill and come back in six weeks’ to a ‘how can I help?’ mentality, encouraging a more collaborative interaction.
It is high time for change, Leyck Dieken bemoans. “We believe there is currently so much dysfunctionality in the healthcare system that society is going to have to call for efficiency to be raised. There is a disconnect between the different parties, we have about 2.5 million pharmacists, we have 15 million physicians on the globe and we have over 1 trillion dollars global spending and still the system is not designed for personal medicine.”
Leyck Dieken champions pharma’s data revolution as the “democratization of healthcare”, citing the move to greater integration and outcomes-based solutions as evidence of ushering in a new era of objectivity.
He is not blind to the challenges, however. Handling data remains a sensitive issue, says Leyck Dieken. Handling anything past “superficial data” such as a patient’s disease indication can land you in legal hot water, he warns. “I think we need to find a good answer and we need a separate custody for that data, we need someone who is a credible source. You would at least have to find a third party either publicly geared or academia geared repository for such data and the way that they are atomised and digested and then given to partners could only be in a very consolidated view again.”
Data misinterpretation is also a potential risk, he cautions.“People sometimes misinterpret data and become either paternalistic and overly dramatized or underscore the importance of doing certain steps.”
Patients must also appreciate that progress is transactional, Leyck Dieken stresses. For HCPs to feedback data that is truly meaningful, patients will need to understand that they must provide that data in the first place, it is a “social contract” of sorts, he says.
The shift from a paternalistic attitude towards patients could also place considerable stress on the HCPs time and resources, as patients could become more demanding, Leyck Dieken acknowledges. Adapting to this new landscape will require HCPs to be agile and openminded. Although AI augmentation can help smoothen this transition, he says. “It will be an important moment that will give them the confidence, the backbone and the safety assurance that they need to be an excellent healthcare practitioner by using AI and by integrating that into the flow of how they manage the practice or their clinic.”
Leyck Dieken is also mindful of soaring costs to the healthcare system. “The healthcare systems all work upon the fact that the society does not use all the instruments equally well, so we need to find a solution to the fact that we are trying to recommend and orientate everybody to the better but at the same time we are trying to contain costs. There is a kind of dishonesty in the system in that we rely on the fact that not everybody would do that.”
We must make sure the dissemination of information will be fair, unbiased and for everyone – not merely benefiting a privileged elite – while keeping costs sustainable, he resolves.
For HCPs to embrace AI augmentation, Leyck Dieken believes it will be contingent on a company’s infrastructure and a country’s appetite for innovation. Smaller countries such as Sweden, with its advanced cancer registries and those “big payers in the US who have the power and mandate to steer their own systems to a certain degree” will be the earliest adopters, he predicts.
Markus Leyck Dieken will be presenting the possibilities of AI at the eyeforpharma Philadelphia event in April
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