“Platform of the Future” Brings Precision Medicine to Patients
The trend of patient-centricity ran throughout the recently concluded 2021 ASAP BioPharma Conference, and one of the first-day livestream sessions was certainly representative. “The Power of Strategic Alliances, Real World Data, and AI to Help Achieve Precision Health” featured Lynn Richard, CSAP, ASAP board member and vice president of global and strategic alliances and chief alliances officer at GE Healthcare, talking about that company’s platform, process, and ecosystem for artificial intelligence applied to the healthcare space.
Richard noted from the outset that in his six years with GE Healthcare, AI has been a “growing business” and an increasing priority for the company, and that it’s been closely tied to alliances throughout. The goal? To make patients’ lives easier and improve their healthcare experience, from better and faster diagnosis to more efficient data capture to remote patient monitoring—all of it under the rubric of “precision medicine.”
Big Vision, Big World—and a “Gargantuan Business”
“As we look at artificial intelligence, much of what we’re trying to do is to achieve the vision of precision health,” Richard acknowledged. “It’s a big vision because it’s a big world. We have much to solve. Precision health is what our patients want us to accomplish, because everyone’s situation is a little bit different. At every step of the way, partners have been involved. Partnerships continue to make a difference in what we’re doing.”
AI has become a “strategic priority” for GE Healthcare, according to Richard, and its AI platform, Edison, has been in development for seven years and in the market for four. And with thousands of applications for AI in healthcare, 80 percent of today’s healthcare leaders already using AI, and hundreds of startups entering the space, it’s a big deal.
“It’s going to be a gargantuan business in healthcare, with projected revenues of $45 billion in 2026 with a 30 percent compound average growth rate (CAGR) in AI applications alone,” Richard said. “This is going to be the platform of the future. It’s not the only way, but it is certainly going to be one of the more significant strategies in healthcare. As a strategic alliances professional, this is one of the most fascinating areas in healthcare today, because this continuum, from diagnostics to remote patient monitoring and everything in between, cannot be done without partners, without alliances. We can’t deploy artificial intelligence pervasively around the world without partners.”
An Ecosystem Orchestrated by “AI for AI”
But to partner effectively in this area, GE Healthcare couldn’t simply employ “business as usual” partnering practices. Instead, it began building up an ecosystem in which it could identify, work with, and deploy a variety of partners and “let them create their own sandboxes.” Thus the Edison ecosystem includes app developers, device makers, enterprise IT, deployment, managed services, and more in a mix of “internal, homegrown, organically developed” applications (about 70 percent) and external third-party apps (30 percent).
To manage the ecosystem, the company created an “Edison orchestrator,” with its own development roadmap: “It is AI for AI that will deploy the right application at the right time for the right circumstance,” Richard said. “And it will get smarter and it will get better over time.”
Harnessing cutting-edge technology in the service of more precise, personalized patient care—and partnering across industries to make it happen—has been a “journey,” as Richard acknowledged, and it’s placed the company squarely in a very exciting space strategically.
“We’re right in the nexus of partnering with the pharmaceutical industry—what this conference is all about—plus technology, the other big industry in strategic alliances,” he said. “For an alliance professional that’s one of the most interesting places to be.”
Communication and Connection Are Half the Battle
And while partnering efforts between tech and pharma aren’t always easy, Richard sounded confident that they could be bridged by “getting to know the culture differences, getting to know the language,” as well as addressing regulatory concerns and “industrial differences.” Still, he said, “Once we know how to communicate with each other, I think it goes pretty well.”
Primed by questions from the audience and from ASAP president and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Richard ended with a plug for ASAP and for events like the annual BioPharma Conference.
“I think these forums help us connect,” he said. “Half the battle in creating a strategic alliance is getting with the right people and identifying the right partners to complement your own strategy. I think [joining] this professional association is one of the best possible things you can do as an alliances professional. It has been extraordinarily rewarding to me from an education standpoint as well as from a networking standpoint. I’ve been involved for more than a decade, and every year there is ASAP currency for me—I have things I need to get done and ASAP is part of that, so that’s why I stay involved and that’s why I’m happy to contribute what I can to the professional association.”
Everyone who registered for the 2021 ASAP BioPharma Conference can continue to access the livestream and on-demand sessions anytime into early November. Use your Attendify app to watch all the sessions you might have missed, and to rewatch your favorites!