personalised medicine

eHealth technologies are pulling together personal information from diverse sources to ensure a more personalised, informed healthcare service – it’s what patients expect Precision medicine is the use of all available information about a patient to produce the most informed care plan possible. This is often associated with using genetic or other “-omics” information to help doctors select which medicine to prescribe for their patient. For example, testing a cancer patient for specific biomarkers can tell doctors which chemotherapy will work best. But it’s much bigger than that. If you look at what contributes to premature death, around 30% is thought to be genetic. The rest is a combination of our environment, diet, exercise, work, mental health, social interactions and other exogenous factors. So why limit ourselves to genetic data alone? As healthcare is now in the information era, the challenge is to pull together the vast quantity of data that exists and aggregate it in a way that allows health services to be tailored to each patient. There is already a wealth of data and this is expected to increase 50-fold in the next eight years. There is no way any physician can cope with this volume of information. That’s why software companies are playing an increasing role in healthcare. Information overload is essentially an IT challenge: how do we access and surface these data in a way that makes them accessible and actionable? How do we acquire and aggregate data, then reason against it to help manage populations and drive insights? Healthcare is unique but software experts have already overcome huge challenges in areas such as e-commerce and financial services to deliver a more tailored and user-friendly experience while safeguarding data privacy. In fact, the public is so used to this kind of customised intelligence that some patients...
Revolutionising and reinventing Medicine We are currently experiencing a great period of particularly stimulating technological breakthroughs. A great deal of progress is expected in practically all areas of our daily life: health, home, work, consumption, the environment… In the health sector alone, there are plenty of new inventions: you can manage your diabetes with a mobile application, make a prosthesis with a 3D printer, continuously monitor your own statistics and there are new techniques for predictive analysis . These inventions are gradually transforming our approach to health and the relationship between hospitals and patients. As these innovative technologies become more and more widespread, the patient becomes more active in monitoring his own state of health and the hospital’s role is changing: we spend less time in hospital, there’s greater comfort for the patient, and the costs for our social security system are reduced. So, in the long run, medical innovation may improve both the quality of healthcare for the patient and the performance of our health system. At this time of medical innovation, surgical robotics is a particularly promising area. A sign of its potential: surgical robotics alone represents a world market which should reach over 20 billion dollars by 2020! This is mainly due to the boom in minimally invasive surgery, which is a way of operating patients via very small incisions. I created Medtech because I was convinced that this trend was inevitable and positive both for patients and the medical world. By democratising the access to minimally invasive surgery, this technology facilitates and considerably improves the surgical act - serving patients and practitioners - and contributes to the performance of hospital facilities. Let’s transmit and connect these innovations! As innovations are only meaningful when they are shared, surgical robotics also aims to make modern surgery accessible to...
Childhood obesity is increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In high–income countries, while prevalence may be plateauing, it remains high; and we are seeing an increase among children living in disadvantage. In January 2016, a report by the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity called for prevention efforts to target early life, specifically three critical periods: preconception and pregnancy, infancy and early childhood and older childhood and adolescence. An early-life focus is important because the health and social impact of excess weight and obesity in childhood persists into later stages of life, negatively affecting health, educational attainment and general life quality. Current high rates of childhood obesity are the product of a perfect early-life storm. Understanding the combination of factors that put children living in disadvantage at risk of obesity provide a clear focus for public health action. A perfect storm More children are now growing up in societies that facilitate weight gain and obesity by creating environments where a healthy choice is not the cheapest or the easiest option. Our recent review identified a range of factors likely to influence a child’s increased weight gain. These include maternal factors, prior to and during pregnancy. Diet, smoking, being overweight or obese when becoming pregnant, gaining excess weight during pregnancy and developing gestational diabetes can all increase the risk of the child being overweight. A father being overweight or obese at conception is also a risk for the child’s future weight. In the early months and years of a child’s life, many factors pose a risk to becoming overweight. These include the child not being breastfed or being breastfed for too short a time. A child’s risk of obesity is also strongly affected by the diet they learn to enjoy from the start of life, so early food...
What is your day-to-day work like? How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work? I am in charge of a home dialysis program in Helsinki. In my department, we take care of the education and training of patients to prepare them for therapy. In Finland, we have been active in this field from the early 80s. There are about 500 dialysis patients in our hospital district, 35% of whom are treated at home. We believe that home therapy is best for the patients. It does not only provide the best quality of life and outcomes, but it also allows for the treatment to be more personalised. It is in fact a win-win-win: for patients to be able to recover at home and get the best treatment, for healthcare professionals to be able to deliver the best care with limited staff and for society in terms of costs to the economy and healthcare. From early on, patients are able to choose the treatment best suited to them, thanks to the information available to them. It is important to not only provide this information to the patients, but also to their family. What do you think are the top three challenges facing the healthcare system and your profession in particular? One of the biggest challenges is the ageing population and the growing number of patients with end-stage renal failure. In the meantime, resources such as money or healthcare staff are lacking in order to balance the demands on the system. Finally, we should be up to date about technological and medical developments in our respective fields. The world is changing and we need to be able to adapt to these changes and understand the new demands. What role do you see for medical technologies to address these challenges?...
The way we look at healthcare is changing. Personalised diagnostics is bringing management of health into the hands of the patients. This was one of the recurrent themes at this year’s South by Southwest event held in Austin, Texas. Numerous events have highlighted the importance of diagnostics and the movement towards self-empowerment. Through wearable devices, mobile apps and the likes, patients are increasingly gathering large amounts of valuable health information on factors such as blood pressure, glucoses level, and pulse. This is driving patients to take charge of their health and the medical technology industry has an important role to play in this discussion. Image credit: Philips Healthcare, Health technology trends Additionally, the new individually gathered data calls for an increased focus on consumer needs in medical technology, integrating apps and mobile technology to fit patients’ everyday lives. So what does this shift towards consumer engagement mean for the MedTech industry? You can find the answer to this question and more at this year’s EuroMedLab Congress taking place on June 21-25 2015 in Paris. Consumerisation of care will be addressed through various discussions on the need to engage patients and care givers' involvement in laboratory results, as well as the use of laboratory science for the use of individualize diabetes care or other chronic diseases will be further deliberated. See you in Paris.
The practice of medicine is meant to keep people well or help them get well so they can live a full, productive life. Technology provides tools toward that goal. It can help relieve pain and suffering or prevent it. But too often we get so excited about technology we lose sight of what’s really important, helping human beings live better. And when it comes to the millions of people living with chronic conditions, and now “chronic cancers”, we need to really understand their lives with an illness to know how technology can help.