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Can Precision Medicine’s Latest Solutions Make a Difference in Asia Healthcare?

Precision medicine is a new model of healthcare that entails the customization of healthcare services, in which all aspects of clinical decision-making such as diagnoses, procedures, and treatments will be tailored to the individual. Some of the latest precision medicine solutions such as genomic sequencing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable clinicians to input both a patient’s unique genetic and lifestyle data to prescribe the most optimal treatment plan for that patient. Precision medicine enables an advanced model of care delivery that has the potential to irreversibly shift the current “one-size-fits-all” healthcare format to a patient-centric, outcomes-based and preventative one.

Many healthcare and tech companies aim to combine genomic sequencing and AI, into an integrated solution. One example is IBM Watson’s N-of-One, a molecular-decision support system that provides interpretations of molecular test results and clinically backed-up treatment plans. N-of-One’s RapidInsights is a fully automated tool that can read the bioinformatics output of molecular tests and return results within minutes based on a colossal pool of medical literature, clinical trials, and guidelines. This fast tracks and improves the traditionally labour intensive clinical decision making process, and enables more precise and tailored treatments. Royal Phillip’s is incorporating the N-of-One software into its IntelliSpace Genomics solution to deliver the most accurate clinical analysis and interpretations of unique oncology cases.

Genomic sequencing and AI are not exclusive to oncology, and can be applied to all types of genetically related conditions. Deep Learning is a type of AI that interprets data based on an extensive library of information, and will be the crux in identifying correlations between genetic sequences and disease. For example, Deep Genomics’s AI software leverages predictive algorithms to identify variations and mutations in DNA sequences that correlate to a multitude of genetically based conditions. Its pre-existing library of over 300 million genetic variations have spurred new insights regarding autism, cancer, and spinal muscular atrophy. This new technology will be on the forefront of genetic tests, in which doctors can immediately identify abnormalities in a patient’s genome prior to the onset of an illness.

Evidently, precision medicine tools such as genomic sequencing and AI greatly influence the clinical decision making process. Therefore, these tools are best optimized when integrated into a clinician’s workflow. AllScripts is a Chicago-based HealthTech company that enables EHR technologies to multi-vendor healthcare stakeholders and has found a leading precision medicine tool, 2bPrecise, which integrates with its standardized EHR. 2bPrecise provides clinicians with insights based on a patient’s genomic data and a library of academic and clinical information, thereby leading to more accurate clinical decision making. Since the support tool is a part of the clinician’s EHR, these insights are automatically drawn and incorporated into the treatment plan of a patient, thereby reducing time, effort, and the probability of error.

Turning our attention to Asia, high-income nations such as Singapore are paving the way in the region for the latest advancements in precision medicine through partnerships with leading national stakeholders. The National Heart Centre of Singapore (NHCS), SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Precision Medicine (PRISM) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have partnered together to launch and pilot WuXiNextCode, a cloud-based enterprise data warehouse that can integrate genomic sequences and data collected from wearables to identify genetic risk factors for heart disease. While WuxiNextCode is a leading player in precision medicine projects in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, the company plans to leverage its partnerships with Singapore’s national healthcare stakeholders to implement its technology in Asia, benefiting a multitude of population segments and patients.

Even though, Singapore is demonstrating how precision medicine can be applied in Asia, genomic technologies and Artificial Intelligence tools such as N-ofOne, 2bPrecise, and WuxiNextCode will have difficulty penetrating emerging markets in the region where there exists a tremendous shortage of adequate healthcare. This limitation stems from insufficient public and private investment into healthcare infrastructure, such as hospitals, clinics, and other modern technologies. For example, an important component of precision medicine is a functioning EMR solution to capture vital patient data. However according to a PwC report on Digital Healthcare in Emerging Markets, less than 50% of care providers in India and Indonesia have adopted an EMR solution. The absence of such healthcare information systems in Asia’s emerging markets will therefore limit their ability to deploy modern healthcare solutions in the short term.

Whereas mature Asia economies are set up to benefit from precision medicine innovations, developing Asia does not presently have this advantage but is nevertheless facing fast growing prevalence of chronic diseases, for example China and India singularly account for 24.4% and 15.3% of cumulative global cases for Diabetes Mellitus (DM) respectively(1). That said, Galen Growth Asia believes that the convergence of tech with health represents an unprecedented opportunity to leapfrog these limitations. Shifting this paradigm will be achieved through greater ecosystem collaboration. It is therefore critical that all the relevant stakeholder groups collaborate to accelerate the healthcare reform necessary to address these challenges which, if left unaddressed, will only continue to drive up costs and negatively impact economic growth.

  1. Aitken, M., & Chan, X. X. (2016). Advancing Value-Based Healthcare in Asia: Using Decision Modelling to Inform Clinical and Public Policy Decision Making(p. 7, Rep.). Singapore: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in Asia. doi:September

Authored by: Sunni Lal

Edited by: Julien de Salaberry, Helene Champoux

Copyright © 2017 Galen Growth Asia

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