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GE Healthcare CDO Outlines Vision of Precision Health Using AI

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, September 16, 2020

In the third and final session of the second day of the 2020 ASAP BioPharma Conference, medtech took center stage. Derek Danois, chief data officer at GE Healthcare, outlined his company’s nascent efforts to transform basic healthcare delivery models in his presentation “Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Care Delivery and the Opportunities to Accelerate Your Development and Commercial Strategy.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the principal tools at the heart of a larger movement in the healthcare industry around “precision health.” The concept is simple: Rather than prescribing medications based on a set of generic symptoms, doctors will integrate lots of relevant data, such as genetic profile, family history, and environmental factors, in designing a custom treatment plan. Precision health will be built on precision diagnostics, therapeutics, and monitoring (e.g., wearables).

Data: the Source Code for AI and the Key to Early Detection

With the overarching mission of precision health explained, Danois showed the audience a video that told a story set in the future where a woman detects a lump on her breast, sends the self-exam directly to her doctor right from her bathroom, gets scheduled for a consult immediately, and is put through a battery of tests at the healthcare facility while doctors and technicians analyze the resultant data. The verdict: they caught a malignancy early enough to expect a full recovery. 

The video is meant to inspire, said Danois, but it also conveys GE Healthcare’s vision for the future.

“What can we do to intervene now in helping to spot the early signs of diseases? How can we intervene in a little bit more of an effective manner? How do we help patients feel less fearful and engage more with their clinicians?” he said. “We’ve got to start thinking even earlier. We have to start thinking about the data that is being collected around the world that allows us to think about this journey. Data truly is the source code for AI.”

AI, Danois explained, has to be educated, taught, and trained over a long period of time in order to be effective. For example, an AI program must be exposed to a trusted radiologist’s annotation of a tumor on an x-ray over and over again before it can learn to recognize a similar tumor on its own and become a “true companion source” and a reliable second opinion for doctors. 

Leaping Regulatory and Economic Hurdles to Make Leaps in Precision Health

The technological piece is one challenge. There are also regulatory, economic, and administrative obstacles to contend with. Healthcare providers are generating loads of valuable data, but this information is fragmented around the world, making it difficult to get the right data in the hands of clinicians at the right time. Moreover, hospitals still aren’t convinced that the cost-benefit ratio is in their favor yet. They still haven’t seen enough evidence of positive long-term outcomes, plus there’s a question as to whether health insurance plans will reimburse for AI-based treatments. Even if a health provider is sold on a new concept, it is difficult to deploy it in a highly regulated industry like healthcare.

Still, despite the hurdles that still need to be cleared, nobody disputes that the payoff is going to be transformative, to say the least, down the road in terms of fluid and effective healthcare delivery. Danois likened where we are today in digital health to the first iPhone more than a decade ago. Back then, there were only a few apps, but everyone saw tremendous possibilities. Now, we perform many of our day-to-day functions on our phones. Healthcare can get to the same place, in Danois’s view.

“It starts with understanding and thinking about the various data content that exists in these organizations. How can those be made available for, not just research but practical product development, AI development, collaboration with industry partners,” he said. “Thinking about how those can be turned into AI applications that can be deployed in the right workflows, what challenges exist from a security and privacy perspective? And then thinking about how those get injected into intelligent applications that can be deployed either on the devices in hospitals right now, or they can be deployed in a hybrid model using cloud infrastructure.”

Ultimately, said Danois, we need to get to a point where doctors don’t even think about the technology behind AI-powered apps and devices, where all it takes is a simple Internet connection in order to take advantage of them.

Alliances, of course, are a must if we are going to get there. GE Healthcare realized early that it couldn’t do it alone, despite the great investment it made into AI technology, software engineering, and data science. (For more details about GE Healthcare’s Edison AI platform, see “It’s the Data—and a Lot More,” Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Q1 2020.)

“We needed to open our technology. We needed to create an ecosystem. We needed to create the landing platforms for other partners to work with us. We’ve been encouraging others to think about doing similar things,” he said. “When you can have ethically compliant ecosystems, when you can think about what each party brings to that challenge and help solve it, and that there’s a known entity at the end of that workflow stream, either in the provider or the patient, that will allow us to take advantage of these tools and technologies and leverage these delivery models, we know that we can achieve amazing precision outcomes.”

The FDA’s Position on AI in Healthcare Devices

With that, Danois fielded a few questions from the audience. The first dealt with privacy and security concerns that come with AI apps and devices. Danois explained that these apps are like any digital health technology in that they are designed “in a thoughtful way” to do a task.   

“These get deployed into an already-existing, highly regulated environment for medical devices, whether it is in the US, in Europe, or for most other countries around the world. There’s some regulatory process where these devices need to be approved from a technology point of view, both physical and digital hardware. Those AI applications will exist in those environments,” he said, before adding that the FDA’s position is that if you incorporate AI into an existing piece of hardware, you must treat the new product as an entirely new device. You can create a separate AI app instead, but whatever you produce must be delivered in a “in cybersecurity-hardened and technically thoughtful way.”

Danois was also asked if the partnering language and mindset is different in these partnerships, given the disparities between tech and pharma corporate and alliance cultures. He responded first by making an important distinction between pure technology ventures that are focused solely on creating AI apps and services and medtech initiatives which use diagnostic tools and technologies to deliver AI-powered services. The latter already undergo a rigorous three- to five-year approval process—Danois cited pet scanners as an example. His larger point was that many collaborations are already comfortable with the longer-term regulatory and alliance cycles.

Danois had plenty more to share during his presentation. ASAP BioPharma Conference registrants can review “Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Care Delivery and the Opportunities to Accelerate Your Development and Commercial Strategy” anytime this week and beyond to benefit from his knowledge and expertise. They can also enjoy a dozen other prerecorded on-demand presentations, as well as the rest of this week’s completed livestreamed sessions.

Keep checking this blog for updates from the conference throughout this week!

Tags:  AI  AI-based treatments  alliance culture  Artificial Intelligence  Clinical Care Delivery  Derek Danois  diagnostics  FDA  GE Healthcare  health  partnering  partnerships  pharma  strategy  tech  therapeutics 

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Keynote Speaker “Dr. Sam” To Prescribe More Collaboration as Part of the Cure for US Heathcare Ailments at ASAP’s BioPharma Conference

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Updated: Saturday, August 27, 2016

He’s a respected medical officer as well as a major mover and shaker in the area of healthcare reform. To those who know him personally, however, Dr. Sam Nussbaum is the wise and approachable “Dr. Sam.” The distinguished healthcare policy expert will be up on the podium at ASAP’s 2016 BioPharma Conference diagnosing woes and handing out prescriptions in relation to the changing political and healthcare scene in his talk “Healing the U.S. Health Care System: Collaboration is Essential” Wednesday, Sept. 7 at the conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston.

 

As a strategic consultant at EGB Advisors, Inc., the consulting arm for Epstein, Becker & Green, he advises healthcare, life science companies, physicians, hospitals, and provider organizations. He also served as the former executive vice president, clinical health policy, and chief medical officer at Anthem Health from 2000 to 2016, where he was acted as the key spokesperson and policy advocate and oversaw clinical strategy and corporate medical and pharmacy policy. He was responsible for HealthCore, Anthem's clinical outcomes research subsidiary, and helped create the model for the Food and Drug Administration’s Safety Sentinel System. Recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the "50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare," he received the 2004 Physician Executive Award of Excellence from the American College of Physician Executives.

"Sam is the ‘advisor to healthcare advisors,’” says Brooke Paige, staff vice president, strategic initiatives at HealthCore, Inc. “He is sure to bring a dynamic energy and unique perspective to the ASAP Biopharma Conference. Sam is a true clinician, always keeping the patient in mind. As we talk about how our healthcare landscape may change in response to the upcoming presidential election, “Dr. Sam” can advise what potential election outcomes could mean for each segment of the industry."

 

Nussbaum is known for his exceptional role in creating collaborative solutions between Anthem, HealthCore, hospital systems, the FDA, and public agencies. He is well-versed in the value of partnering to solve systemic problems at the highest of levels, having helped design and promote patient-centered medical homes and assessed their impact on the quality and cost effectiveness of care. Under his leadership, HealthCore has built partnerships with federal agencies and academic institutions to advance drug safety, comparative effectiveness, and outcomes research.

“Dr. Nussbaum is uniquely qualified to discuss collaborative approaches and help attendees define ecosystem problems specific to their business while envisioning strategic partnering options to best address an alliance challenge,” says ASAP CEO Mike Leonetti, CSAP, of the choice. “We know as partnership professionals, that the US healthcare system will never be fixed without a collaborative approachit's just too complex not to bring the payors, providers, industry, and government participants together.  In addition, Nussbaum is a policy guru with strong healthcare policy experience and can help attendees prepare for a range of potential scenarios stemming from evolving healthcare policy impacted by the presidential elections.”

 

While serving at chief medical officer at WellPoint, he was accountable for $100 billion in healthcare expendituresfrom clinical pharmacy programs to care and disease management. The HealthCore subsidiary built partnerships during that time to further outcomes research, drug safety, and comparative effectiveness with large federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and FDA, as well as academic institutions.

 

He received his medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and trained in internal medicine at Stanford University Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. He also trained in endocrinology and metabolism at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the OASIS Institute, NEHI, BioCrossroads (an Indiana-based public-private collaboration that advances and invests in the life sciences), and America's Agenda. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Medidata, a publicly traded clinical technology company serving life sciences clients, and the Healthcare Advisory Board of KPMG. He serves as Chair of the Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Steering Committee (a cooperative agreement between AHRQ and the FDA), is a member the HHS Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Guiding Committee, and participates in Institute of Medicine activities, including serving on the Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care.

 

For more information about the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference and keynote speaker Sam Nussbaum, go to http://www.asapweb.org/biopharma/.

Tags:  Anthem Health  ASAP BioPharma Conference  collaborative solutions  Dr. Sam Nussbaum  EGB Advisors  FDA  healthcare  HealthCore  hospital systems  Inc.  life science companies  partnerships  public agencies  WellPoint 

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Maximizing the Alliance Management and C-Suite Relationship Through the Eyes of Biopharma Conference Plenary Speaker Stéphane Thiroloix

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, August 1, 2016
Updated: Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stéphane Thiroloix describes himself as a “reasonable generalist,” having been involved with partnering in multiple waysfrom business development, general management, marketing, and sales to R&D and legal affairs. The CEO at Mayoly Spindler, an emerging family-owned, independent French company with a focus on gastroenterology and dermocosmetics, will present a plenary talk on The View from the C-Suite: Partnering and Alliances Today and Tomorrow,” Thursday morning, Sept. 8, during the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference. This year’s conference, “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed,” will be held Sept. 7-9 at the Revere Hotel in Boston. Mayoly Spindler’s revenue originates half in France and half abroad through activities in over 50 countries, mostly via local partnerships. The company’s portfolio strategy is based almost exclusively on partnering. Thiroloix provided this preview of his topic on how alliance management functions can best be viewed and leveraged by company senior leadership.

What are some of the challenges when coordinating the alliance management and C-Suite relationships?
The first challenge is simply understanding the role of alliance management. When you have skilled and proactive alliance managers, it does not take long for the C-Suite to appreciate their work and turn to them constantly. Another challenge is keeping the alliance manager in play at all times, even when a partner is tempted to take a more direct CEO-to-CEO route. While that’s a perfectly legitimate move, it’s then the CEO's responsibility to keep the alliance manager in play, even if it’s transiently unofficial. One interesting challenge is accepting contradictions from the alliance manager as they stand for partner interests. It’s easy to state and posture that the alliance manager is our partner's ambassador in our ExCom [executive committee], but when they make the partner's case in a difficult decision, we may feel a little strain as we remind ourselves that we hired them to do so and should pay attention.

Among your proposed discussion topics is the importance of establishing an alliance management function and its value to the senior executive team. Why has this become increasingly important in the new ecosystem?
The pharma model has become tremendously fragmented. When I started my professional life, large pharma companies were the norm, and they were fully integrated—from fundamental research to sales. Partnerships were the exception rather than the norm, and we relied mostly on our internal dynamics to succeed. Today, not only is there a constellation of small, ultra-specialized players, but even the large pharma players outsource vast quantities of strategic activities, including entire components of their R&D, most of their manufacturing, and frequently their commercial activity. As a result, the way we work today is intrinsically alliance-based. Additionally, it’s not about whether you're big or small. If you are a big, dominant player, there is high risk that you will be overpowering in your partnerships. Partners used to accept this because partnering with big pharma was the grail. That’s no longer the case, so big players need alliance management to maintain a healthy balance in their dealings with smaller players who have a variety of other doors to knock on. If you are a small player, you must be agile, humble, and alliance-focused in order to quickly build a strong partnering track record.

Describe some effective strategies partnering professionals can use to support the C-Suite?
A straight answer may be a little simplistic. The company (and its C-Suite), its partners and the alliance manager themselves, have a specific profile and style that may call for different approaches. The C-Suite requires a difficult balance between boring them with systematic activity reporting and appearing to withhold knowledge that provides an edge—which is unbearable to the C-Suite. What I've seen work well is to use the pace of partnership governance: at ExCom meetings before key alliance governance moments, provide relevant updates and gather C-Suite insight. That way you will not be covering all topics all the time. Make sure you share partner milestones to provide the C-Suite with opportunities to react in a constructive manner. If a partner cleared an FDA hurdle or raised capital, some C-Suite members may want to send a congratulatory note—but if you don’t point it out, they might miss the occasion. The best way to work the C-Suite is unquestionably to work more with their teams than with them. Similarly, make sure the C-Suite's personal assistants know where to find alliance reports, and develop flexibility and opportunities for them to connect with bosses whenever they need to deal with the alliance. Be ready to explain the same things again and again. And never, ever surprise them.

Tags:  alliance management  alliances  C-Suite  ecosystem  FDA  governance  Mayoly Spindler  partners  partnership  Stéphane Thiroloix 

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