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Four examples of how digital technology is advancing personalized healthcare

Tijs Neutens, Corporate Affairs & Koen Raeymaekers, Value Solutions, Amgen

Exactly one month after we kicked off our triplet event on personalized healthcare, AmCham Belgium’s Innovative Healthcare Committee organized a second online session on March 17. This time, we focused on how digital science is transforming and individualizing prevention and care for patients.

During the event, four state-of-the-art projects, which either implement or contribute to the implementation of personalized healthcare in clinical practice, were highlighted. Each of the presented projects is the result of a unique, multidisciplinary collaboration between academic institutions, hospitals and one or more member companies of the Innovative Healthcare Committee. All share the same purpose: providing the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

Our first speaker, Dr. Annelies Verbiest, medical oncologist and Real World Data expert at the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), demonstrated how her organization is using artificial intelligence, in collaboration with Lynxcare, to extract unstructured hospital data to give doctors information supporting clinical decision-making and improve patient outcomes. Their approach enables the creation of a structured, cross-hospital data warehouse to gain large-scale, real-time insights that are relevant for, among others, patients, hospitals, governments and innovative pharmaceutical companies.

Another data integration project was presented by Bart Vannieuwenhuyse, Senior Director Health Information Sciences at Janssen Pharmaceutica. He talked about the ATHENA project (Augmenting THerapeutic Effectiveness through Novel Analytics): a collaboration on distributed data networks and federated learning between several Belgian hospitals, industrial partners (Janssen, Inovigate, Illumina, Robovision) and research institutions (KULeuven, UGent and imec). The project, supported by VLAIO, develops a platform that contains large datasets on the evolution of the disease among individual cancer patients. The goal is to look for valuable connections between data while still meeting the highest standards for patient data privacy. This approach makes it possible to discover disease mechanisms that can be treated through new personalized therapies.

We also had the pleasure to welcome Dr. David Van Laere, pediatrician at the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) and founder of Innocens. Innocens (Improving Neonatal Outcome with a Clinical Early Notification System) is a MedTech spin-out of UZA and a business partner of IBM. It is a clinical decision support platform that aims to reduce neonatal mortality by using artificial intelligence (AI) on monitoring the data of patients who have been admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We were happy to learn that after all those years doctors now have a more effective alternative to predict bloodstream infections (sepsis) among newborn babies than with their traditional stethoscope. Currently, the model detects 75% of sepsis, sometimes up to eight hours earlier than a human doctor.

Finally, Dr. Greg Friberg, VP Medical Affairs at Amgen, shared insights on the OPTIMA project: a European public-private partnership under the umbrella of the Innovative Medicines Initiative. The aim of OPTIMA is to harness the power of artificial intelligence to advance treatments and facilitate decision-making for physicians and patients with prostate, breast and lung cancer. At the heart of OPTIMA will be Europe’s first interoperable, large scale oncology data and evidence generation platform with data from over 200 million people. Analyzing that data with the right tools will deepen our knowledge of issues that are not covered by clinical guidelines.

Combined together, the four presenters gave us an excellent snapshot of what is already possible today when it comes to personalized care, and how AmCham Belgium member companies contribute to high-level innovation thanks to collaboration between various stakeholders.

Stay tuned for the third and final event of this series on Personalized Healthcare. This will be an in-person debate on precision medicines taking place on May 6. Several top speakers have already confirmed their participation. Do not miss out on this insightful exchange! More information and an official invite will follow soon!