The speed and range of scientific breakthroughs in precision medicine today is leading to groundbreaking new treatments, particularly in oncology and rare diseases. In fact, Evaluate Research estimates that more than 85% of the oncology market is now focused on targeted therapies. The treatable patient population is also expanding, growing three-fold every three years. Together, the increase in innovation and patients will drive worldwide sales of all oncology products to over $230 billion per year by 2024.

However, the speed of innovation and the consequent explosion of scientific data brings its own challenges. For example, the number of new oncology therapeutics in clinical development in the United States alone has risen by over one-third (34%) since 2015. Real-world data from patient records is also growing rapidly. Treatment teams need to remain current on both the latest advances and real-world patient outcomes, while also contributing their own experiences with these advances to the wider ecosystem. Life sciences companies must ensure that they are helping treatment teams and scientific experts stay up to date on the growing treatment landscape, while also sharing information from these groups to inform ongoing scientific progress.

Traditional methods used to build and maintain relationships in the oncology sector are quickly becoming obsolete. Medical science liaisons (MSLs) charged with informing and educating experts, must evolve their style, method, and content of communication. MSLs now need to reach oncologists within a growing, global audience faster, and target more in-depth information that best fits experts’ individual needs. Generic information is no longer sufficient. The average physician needs to read about 29 hours per day to keep up to date with new medical research, making MSLs even more valuable partners for aligning scientific information with clinical practice.

Delivering Precision Information

The good news is that advancements in cloud-based technologies allow life sciences companies, treatment teams, and leading oncologists to work much more collaboratively today. The cloud enables faster, global, bidirectional tools that target information more precisely to the needs, interests, and preferences of particular experts. This means the life sciences industry can partner with oncology care teams in a much deeper and more valuable way, which will result in better patient care and outcomes as the gap between the bench and the clinic narrows.

The cloud helps deliver the promise of precision medicine in three key ways:

1. Enabling Bidirectional Information Sharing

In an era when the volume of information and speed of innovation are accelerating, the relationship between life sciences companies and oncology care teams needs to become more efficient. Companies need to rapidly provide care teams with easy-to-consume, real-time scientific data set into the context of the current treatment landscape. The continued advancement of treatment innovation requires that medical experts share their real-world experiences.

Achieving this at scale has previously been difficult in a global environment. How can companies ensure they are reaching the right experts with the right information at the right times? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. The cloud can help by providing companies with the ability to deliver targeted information, track data consumption, and evolve communications accordingly. At the same time, providers have the architecture to communicate gaps in knowledge, real-world patient experiences, and other information from the field that can fuel ongoing treatment advances.

The cloud also enables ongoing dialog through communication tools that can work alongside traditional face-to-face interactions. In an age when more companies are trying to access increasingly busy providers, companies can offer virtual and remote methods of engagement that fit into the busy schedules and environments of scientific experts and care teams.

Finally, the cloud enables medical affairs teams to extend education and engagement beyond just the individual oncologist to address new, team-based care approaches. Diagnostic and research specialists, nurses, physician assistants, nutritionists, and other caregivers can receive targeted information that fits their unique needs. The broader care team receives vital insight into treatments and how each member of the team can contribute to driving better patient outcomes. Likewise, these teams can provide valuable information, such as signals of clinical sub-populations who might respond better to treatment modalities and sequences and define better protocols for patient compliance and retention.

2. Faster, More Dynamic Data Analysis

We live in the era of big data, and detailed analysis of this ever-expanding volume of information is vital for accelerating precision medicine. New data sets are growing in size and importance, in addition to the Cancer Genome Atlas, which catalogs the genetic mutations responsible for cancer and has generated multidimensional maps of genomic changes in more than 30 cancer types. This growth will require ongoing innovation in analytics and insight sharing, as well as access to larger, more complete and more accurate data sets for targeting and benchmarking.

As artificial intelligence moves into the mainstream, this process will become automated and rapid. Technology will be able to quickly analyze and compare trial results, scientific literature, and real-world patient records, allowing teams to spot potential new treatments and provide faster alignment with specific cancer types and individual patient populations.

3. Delivering Deeper Insight

Being able to successfully deliver precision medicine relies not only on access to the right data, but also on speed to carry this insight into the clinic in a timely way. Waiting for lengthy trials to be conducted and the results published can hold up research efforts. New technologies will make it simpler to access, extract, and use aggregated patient data in new ways in order to develop and align targeted treatments. This real-world information can help life sciences organizations understand the benefits and challenges of a treatment outside the controlled clinical trial environment and, together with scientific data, evolve treatments for the clinical environment more effectively and efficiently.

Overall, improved bidirectional dialog via the cloud enables better patient outcomes by pushing vital, high-value information to clinicians while pulling crucial, real-world insight back from key experts in the field. Through implementation of a shared engagement approach across company teams and geographies, the content of expert interactions, as well as any new insight from this, can also be optimized internally with all relevant stakeholders.

Through this technology-supported approach, life sciences companies can instantly follow up with the trial or real-world data that experts need, via the channels they request. Should new biomarkers or data on new combination treatments or sequencing become available, MSLs can react quickly to put that information into context. Efficient communication drives deeper insight and directly impacts innovation and patient outcomes.

Collaboration via the Cloud

Precision medicine, particularly in areas such as oncology, is transforming the treatment landscape and increasing the length and quality of patient lives. However, the volume and complexity of available data makes it challenging for treatment teams and life sciences companies to share information. Overcoming information overload, building bidirectional communication channels, and driving mutually valuable relationships are key to collaboration that will ensure better patient outcomes. Embracing new, cloud-based technologies underpins this new ecosystem, providing a platform for innovation that transforms engagement, deepens insight, and ensures realization of precision medicine’s full potential.

  • Malia Lewin

    Malia Lewin is Director, Global Oncology Strategy of Veeva Systems. Lewin is a senior business strategist who has been working to accelerate the discovery and adoption of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products in the oncology and rare disease markets for more than 15 years.

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