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A systems-thinking approach to drug discovery, development and delivery, will help biopharmaceutical companies gain efficiencies in their process, and demonstrate the value proposition of their products that payers now demand. But the success of this model is predicated on their ability to access integrated healthcare data. There are six sets of data that the healthcare industry needs to take care of any individual patient -- 
 
  1. Clinical data, which increasingly resides in electronic medical records.
     
  2. Economic data to demonstrate the financial proposition of a treatment –which is often defined as quality divided by cost.
     
  3. Patient-reported outcome data, including things like side effects, how well patients feel when they’re on medications, and whether they are taking other medications that could adversely impact treatment outcomes.
     
  4. Clinical research data, which allows us to develop the next set of therapies for tomorrow.
     
  5. Social care and productivity data, including information about integrated services available from health and social care providers to support the patient while they are using the treatment.
     
  6. Genomic and other “omic” data sets that are allowing researchers and clinicians to develop more effective, targeted therapies. 

In an ideal healthcare system, these data sets would be linked back to individual patients, and accessible in a fully integrated fashion at every point in the healthcare system. 

We are nowhere near that ideal state yet, and there are many obstacles to overcome as we move in that direction. Currently all of these data sources reside in different places. Clinical data is either in the physician offices or in their EHR systems; financial data lives with the large payers; and no-one has a handle on genomic data and the patient-reported outcome data. 

And while the industry sees value in bringing these data sets together, we currently lack the skills, technology, regulations, and common goals to make it happen.

According to our recent Quintiles survey, industry executives agree that integrated data streams are vital to their future success, and at least three out of four said that it is important for different data sources collected by different stakeholders to be linked together to better inform decisions. This suggests that they view systems-thinking as an integral part of the digital transformation. 

Unfortunately, more than half of all stakeholders feel they have neither the tools nor the expertise to optimize the use of these data sets today – though they believe this skill and technology gap will close substantially in the next three-to-five years. 

One of the elements that I believe will drive this shift is the emergence of integrated delivery systems, including accountable care organizations, which are increasingly financially responsible for the care they deliver. As these accountable care organizations mature, they will not only collect clinical data, but also economic data on their patients. And over time they’ll be able to aggregate the genomic data and patient-reported outcome data for application in the discovery, development and delivery process. 

As these groups take shape, biopharma companies have a wonderful opportunity to work with them, to identify strategies for using their medications to improve healthcare and demonstrate overall value -- which in the end, is what this systems-thinking approach is all about.