If COVID-19 taught us anything, it is that we can solve the impossible. Humanity’s success in bringing a safe, effective vaccine to the market in under a year proved that when it comes to our survival, speed doesn’t preclude efficacy, competition doesn’t rule out collaboration and the physical distance does not compromise quality.
While the pandemic has frayed our socioeconomic structures, it also shone a bright light on life sciences’ role in bringing us closer to a vision of affordable, accessible and attainable healthcare that is sustainable for the industry and for the planet. And a common denominator in this quest is technology.
TECHNOLOGY DRIVES SUSTAINABILITY
Every aspect of clinical trials — the life-blood of life sciences — is being transformed by technological innovation. Today, we can more effectively recruit and onboard patients, manage trial supplies and collect, analyze and protect data. Behind these improvements are robust, collaborative, cloud-based platforms that eliminate the myriad of challenges that thwarted past trials.
Historically, geography determined if you could participate in a clinical trial, limiting the diversity of patients. Today, as trials become decentralized, we can connect patients living almost anywhere with the trial sites. This expands the pool of eligible patients and their diversity, generating results that can be extrapolated to people living in markedly different circumstances.
Technology is reducing the patient burden and improving the patient experience. Advanced medical devices allow patients to administer trial drugs themselves at home. Sensors and wearables collect and transmit detailed medical readings, without the need to travel to the study site. Less travel means a better chance that patients stay in the trial, as well as fewer emissions, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint for the industry.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) AND VIRTUAL TWINS FOR BETTER PATIENT OUTCOMES
Healthcare generates a lot of data. With more than 25,000 total trials, 1.5 billion+ images, and 7 million+ trial participants, Medidata has access to a wealth of clinical trial information.
We are getting more sophisticated with embedding AI-powered analytics into all phases of collecting, managing and interpreting health data. As a result, we are driving actionable insights for shortened timelines, business value creation and, ultimately, timely outcomes for patients.
We can harness that information to build a synthetic control arm for a trial — an alternative to a placebo or standard of care in studies where all participants desire the therapeutic under development. This synthetic arm — a virtual twin — enables life science companies to create safe, effective and affordable therapies while reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and natural resource utilization and realizing ethical and sustainable business practices. Virtual twin experiences such as synthetic control arms will transform the trajectory of healthcare. They will have a profound impact on patient outcomes while fueling our ambition for a sustainable planet. The future is here, and the time to act is now.
LIFE SCIENCES IN THE POST COVID-19 WORLD
It typically takes more than eight years to discover, develop and commercialize a medicine. To defeat COVID-19, the industry had to pivot. Researchers collaborated on an unprecedented level, and regulators moved fast without compromising safety. Decisions that pre-pandemic took weeks were made confidently in days, allowing the healthcare industry to develop and deliver a vaccine in just a few months.
Imagine just how far the industry can go if we unite around a mission and harness the technology and science as we did for COVID-19. We can eradicate scourges like cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or a host of rare diseases.
Human ingenuity will continue to fuel progress in healthcare, and digital and virtual capabilities will fuse sustainability into this progress. As long as there are patients grappling with diseases and desperate for hope, we have not a minute to waste. As an industry, we have a particular responsibility to deliver better experiences and better outcomes for patients — in less time, at less expense, and with less environmental impact.
Rama Kondru, Ph.D., co-CEO & head of R&D, Dassault Systèmes Medidata
Learn more about how virtual twin experiences are helping people live healthier lives