Connected Systems Needed for Prevention and Early Detection of Disease

Roche Future
Changing the way labs operate and deliver value

Creating open, interconnected, and collaborative systems within the Diagnostics sector and healthcare system overall will support prevention and early detection of a range of conditions, whilst also empowering people to take greater ownership of their health, Moritz Hartmann, Global Head of Roche Information Solutions, says ahead of the EuroMedLab Congress in May. 

Diagnostics plays a central role in the identification of diseases, the assessment of how well treatments are working, and establishing how healthy people are, but all too often diagnostics systems are complicated and disjointed. This can lead to delays in confirming a diagnosis and implementing an optimal treatment plan, and can ultimately compromise patients’ outcomes.1

“We are working together with lab leaders to create new solutions and provide open digital ecosystems that enable easy sharing of data across systems, instruments, and locations from Roche and third-party innovators – changing the way labs operate and deliver value,” Moritz says.

Digital solutions play a key role in connecting data, systems, and solutions across the care settings, helping practitioners to manage diseases in a more efficient and holistic way, Moritz believes.

“The goal is to shift the focus from diagnosis and therapy to early detection, improved risk assessment, and potentially prevention of diseases – moving from sick care to health care. In that sense, personalized healthcare is about enabling patients to live longer, healthier lives and empowering them to take a more active role in managing their health,” Moritz says. 

Making it easier for people to take a more active role in their treatment pathways will become increasingly important as the number of people living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, continues to climb. And for people with rare diseases, being able to use digital platforms to access vital information more easily will also be incredibly valuable.

Durhane Wong-Rieger, President and CEO of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, is already seeing the benefits of connecting with people with similar conditions around the world in terms of the way rare diseases are diagnosed and managed.2

“The other big thing that is happening is the sharing of this kind of diagnostic information and … we are looking forward to having global platforms, where people can actually share their information and then be able to have an accumulation not only of more people, but also share all that information with researchers in a very ready way so that we can get to that next step, and that is how we are going to treat these diseases,” she said in a recent podcast on “The Future of Diagnostic”.2

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Precision Prescribing


The ability to share information is also a central part of progressing more targeted treatment approaches for certain diseases, such as cancer.3 New Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tools and apps mean that physicians and patients are now, potentially, able to make more timely, confident decisions and monitor disease progression in real-time.4

These tools are connecting doctors, researchers, and data specialists across the healthcare system. By matching patients' complete diagnostic information and disease history with relevant clinical trials, publications, and guidance, patients are able to receive highly tailored treatment plans.4 It is hoped that more precise therapeutic agents will soon be developed for cardiology and neurodegenerative diseases in the near future, building on the successes seen in oncology.5


New Tech on the Block

An explosion of new technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), digital biomarkers, biosensors, robotization, and automation, are all helping to make laboratories more efficient, and diagnostics more accessible.  

The advent of these technologies comes at an important time for the healthcare system – it is estimated that healthcare systems will be missing 10 million workers by 2030, while expectations for faster turnaround times within laboratories are also rising.6

“At EuroMedLab, we will be focusing on operational excellence in laboratories through an integrated solutions approach along every step of the sample journey and we will be introducing two key solutions at the congress – navify® Sample Tracking and navify® Analytics,” Moritz says.

AI will further the productivity of laboratories and help doctors to sift through the huge volumes of medical data, information, and knowledge that are produced on a daily basis as they seek to make the best treatment decisions with and for their patients, experts say.7, 8, 9

“Digital tools are also going to be very useful in the area of pathology. We’ll be using AI to read the slides, which can be a hugely difficult thing to do. This is why it needs a very experienced pathologist to read them, but if we can use algorithms then we can have the further assurance that you are making the right diagnosis.10 This will be particularly important in countries where there are very few pathologists, like China and India or in Africa,” Ann Costello, Head of Roche Diagnostics Solutions says.

Other advances, such as biosensors and digital biomarkers, are also poised to shake up the way in which we diagnose and monitor our health going forward.

For example, biosensors hold great promise when it comes to diagnosing infections thanks to their “rapid detection of specific molecular markers, simplicity, ease-of-use, efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness,” researchers wrote in a paper that was published in the National Library of Medicine.11

And they could also help to monitor and even heal wounds and injuries. Scientists recently published results of a study that looked at how biosensors in smart bandages could be used to aid with the healing of chronic wounds in a rodent model.12 Dr. Wei Gao, a co-author of the research from the California Institute of Technology, was quoted as saying in the Guardian newspaper that smart bandages could be used in clinics in the next five to 10 years.13

The use of digital biomarkers through smartphones, smartwatches, and medical bracelets is also forecast to rise sharply, with analysts predicting the market will grow to $23.86 billion by 2030 from $1.51 billion in 2021.14

The advantages of digital biomarkers are manifold as they provide a comprehensive picture of how people are feeling on a day-to-day basis and capture data from a range of outputs, including heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and respiratory rate, offering more complete insights into the overall health of an individual.


Providing Better Care, Achieving Better Outcomes


The emerging technologies and science around diagnostic tools and services mean their importance in developing cost-effective solutions for healthcare systems will grow further as citizens, clinicians, and policy makers take steps to prevent disease, diagnose earlier and treat those who do become ill more effectively and with greater precision.

The full potential of these cutting-edge developments will only be reached if they are embedded within a system that facilitates the safe, rapid, and easy sharing of information. Failure to keep up with the diagnostic science will be a failure to fully address the damage that can still be caused by inaccurate or delayed diagnosis despite the considerable technological progress that is being made.

To make this transformation a reality and improve care delivery for patients across the globe, collaboration, investment in novel technologies, and adjustments of processes, laws, and regulations are necessary. Let's come together and discuss at EML! 

Open Ecosystems

Digital Ecosystems Are the Future of Health Care

Almost everything we do these days has gone digital. The glaring exception has been health care.15

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