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The Data Revolution Comes to Drug Delivery

The Data Revolution Comes to Drug Delivery
Using Big Data effectively was a hot topic at this year’s Drug Delivery Partnerships meeting.   

Using Big Data effectively was a hot topic at this year’s Drug Delivery Partnerships meeting.

Carol Stillman

This year’s Drug Delivery Partnerships (DDP) meeting at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach, FL, featured three fast-paced days of sharing insights into opportunities and emerging trends on the drug-delivery horizon. The event was attended by more than 300 of drug delivery’s most innovative players from 150 companies.

Experts shared best practices for taking a concepts from inception to functional prototype, discussed technological evolution, and debated a number of topics in roundtable discussions. We bemoaned the lingering gap between executive-level acknowledgement of the need for human-centric design early in the development process and actual implementation on a timeline that would maximize impact. We reflected on the need to continue to move care out of the high-risk, high-cost hospital environment. We identified areas for collaboration and partnership among sometimes competitors and discussed strategies with long-time clients.

Learn about patient privacy and data security at the BIOMEDevice Boston conference, April 13-14, 2016.

We also talked about what is arguably the most dramatic change drug delivery has seen in recent years: data. Specifically, the glut of it. Gone are the days of a few hastily scratched numbers on a clipboard. Smart, mobile, and connected devices have the capacity to amass unwieldy data teeming with potential for… what?

How exactly do innovators in the drug-delivery space imagine unleashing the power of this data?

At DDP, we contemplated the pros and cons of outcome and compliance-based reimbursement. We envisioned a world in which open architecture allows sharing among pharma, payers, and healthcare systems. We discussed the ways data could make each patient’s experience better. With the right combinations of data processing and security, the opportunities seem limitless.

Unfortunately, recent events have also demonstrated the potential for healthcare data exploitation. Why someone would hack into another person’s pacemaker isn’t necessarily clear; on the other hand, a weak point into a hospital system’s patient database through a refrigerator that reports monitored temperatures is fraught with potential for exploitation.

As innovators, we spend our careers focused on optimizing device performance and yearning for information to guide design refinements. We imagine what could be done if only we had insight into actual use, actual doses, and what patients really do when they see that error code. And yet, it’s clear that before we leap too far down the path of collecting all this glorious data, we need to make sure it’s sufficiently protected. Fortunately, cybersecurity for medical devices is another opportunity to innovate, and this topic is finally getting the attention it deserves.

As in past years, DDP provided suppliers a venue for identifying companies that need their cutting-edge technology to develop just the right product. With the increasing emphasis on data, this year’s meeting also highlighted the need to pair monitoring capabilities with communications technologies, to consider contextual research with mobile health opportunities, and to build in cybersecurity safeguards for products that store and make sense of data.

As nice as Palm Beach Gardens is as a vacation spot in mid-January, it turns out it was also a great place for forming strategic partnerships.

Carol Stillman is a project manager for medical devices at Battelle.

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