“Diagnostics is still massively under-valued and under-utilized”
With heart disease, obesity and diabetes rates on the rise, chronic disease is set to continue its upward trend. According to the World Health Organization, chronic illness globally is expected to rise by 57 per cent by 2020, with almost half of total chronic disease deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases. Effective management of patients with chronic diseases requires constant and regular monitoring, often using home monitoring devices. As a result, security and privacy of real-time data from these devices to healthcare professionals becomes questionable. Roche Diagnostics looks to join the collaboration formed between Infocommunications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), DEX and PwC Singapore, with the aim to plug this gap using Ocean Protocol, a blockchain-based technology that allows secure, transparent and traceable exchange of data. Lance Little, Managing Director, Region Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics recently spoke to BioSpectrum Asia about this partnership, effective use of medical data, key opportunities in diagnostics space and company’s plans in the coming years. Edited excerpts;
Can you tell us more about the partnership you have entered with IMDA, PWC and DEX? How will patients be benefited from this partnership?
As part of our planned collaboration with DEX, IMDA and PwC Singapore, Roche Diagnostics is initiating a pilot study to determine how decentralized blockchain data exchange technology – Ocean Protocol – can enable trusted and secure real-time data sharing from our CoaguChek patient device to the hospital information system can help to improve the current practice and standards of care for patients on blood- thinning therapy.
For these patients, regular testing of the International Normalised Ratio (INR) levels is necessary to ensure the right dosage and monitor the effectiveness of their therapy. Poor control may lead to complications such as bleeding or stroke.
With our Bluetooth-enabled Roche CoaguChek home monitoring device, patients under therapy can conveniently test and monitor their INR levels, in less than five minutes. Regular testing of INR will indicate if patients are at risk of complications or whether they are safe and within therapeutic range. In the past, results would typically would be available for the doctor to review during patient consultations, which on average are once every six months. However, with automatic real-time access to results, doctors can better manage their patients on coagulation monitoring versus the current standard of care. Most data exchanges currently operate under centralized model where a copy of data is exchanged under the rules and governance of the individual environment. Under this model, there is limited provenance, auditability, and trust. In addition, data owners can lose control of their data assets and more importantly, privacy and security can be easily compromised.
The Ocean Protocol can present a unique solution for addressing today’s data exchange challenge by combining blockchain technology and a trust framework that is co-developed with IMDA to ensure safe, secure, and trusted data exchange.
So, with this pilot project we are determining the safe and secure sharing of the INR results of patients on anti-coagulation therapy from the home monitoring device to the hospital information system.
Ultimately, through the pilot, we hope to gain a better understanding of existing need-gaps, which could enable us to create a data-driven healthcare environment that provides physicians with the right digital tools to support decision making, and ensure better patient care.
Which diseases/ conditions does Roche Diagnostics intend to focus its efforts on in near future?
Roche Diagnostics offers the industry’s broadest range of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) solutions. We bring innovations that are relevant and can meet the needs of the local populations.
Our product portfolio ranges from blood glucose meters for people with diabetes and point-of-care testing devices for use in doctors’ offices, to highthroughput analysers for hospitals and commercial diagnostic laboratories. We also supply state-of-theart instruments and reagents for life science research.
Simply put, we will continue to focus our efforts on leveraging scientific knowledge and bringing innovative solutions that can address unmet medical needs. Take for example our HPV test. Around the globe, there has been a reduction of women dying from cervical cancer because of the introduction of pap smears. However, research has shown that this test can miss instances of cervical cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer, causing more than 99 per cent of cases according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Roche developed a new technology which identifies the 14 most prevalent high-risk HPV genotypes, and can provide specific genotyping information for HPV types 16 and 18 which cause 70 per cent of all cervical cancers. With the introduction of the HPV test, high risk patients can be identified, meaning preventative measures can be put in place without delay, ultimately saving more women’s lives.
Most recently, Australia phased out the pap smear test in favour of the HPV test so that women are tested for the presence of the HPV rather than testing for abnormal cells, which may not occur until many years after initial infection with HPV.
How do you envision Roche Diagnostics developing in the next 20 years from now?
We’re at an interesting point in time. The healthcare industry is evolving so quickly that it’s difficult to predict the changes in the next decade, much less envision where we’ll be in 20 years. But I will say that as the global leader in in vitro diagnostics, I am confident that Roche Diagnostics will continue to deliver the best possible diagnostic solutions to improve people’s lives. As the industry leader, we have the opportunity to enhance healthcare delivery and ultimately benefit society as a whole.
Whilst diagnostics has always been one of the pillars of healthcare, it is now positioned to play a key role in revolutionising healthcare. Digital has already emerged as a key driver in the healthcare space, but what we will see more of in the coming decades is the application of digital and tech tools in the diagnostics environment, and the advent of digital diagnostics.
Sophisticated digital diagnostic tools will empower doctors to make the right decisions, allow patients to have more control over their health and well-being, and give payers and policymakers the confidence that they are investing in the right solutions.
Diagnostics is still massively under-valued and under-utilized. Today, it represents just 2- 3 per cent of all healthcare spending but influences 60 -70 per cent of medical decision making. In times to come, I hope we can change this. It is when we collectively harness the true potential of diagnostics that we can enhance the overall standard of care.
Priyanka Bajpai firstname.lastname@example.org
Lance Little,Managing Director, Region Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics
Lance Little, Managing Director, Region Asia Pacific, Roche Diagnostics