How Patients and Data Can Make Better Medicines Faster

Between Apple’s foray into democratizing access to electronic health records, Amazon’s delivery system bringing the pharmacy to your doorstep, and Google testing software to detect diseases from x-ray images, technology has not only made access to health care more abundant, but is slowly laying the foundation for how we will create the new standards of medical care in the decades to come.

With more medical diagnostics, imaging results, patient intake forms, and other health care information moving from paper binders to digital records, and better tools to evaluate what the data mean to improve the health of entire populations, there lies both an opportunity to use this new medium to make better treatments faster, but also to ask ourselves if we’re collecting all the information we need to heal patients in the best way possible.

Sometimes confusing clinical data, like lab results or blood pressure readings, only make sense in the context of a patient’s story. A patient’s blood glucose spikes on Wednesdays because she works overtime that day every week and only has time to pick up a McFlurry on the drive to her second job. Another patient has had three ED visits in the last two weeks due to flare ups of her longstanding Crohn’s Disease, but only during the third did someone ask if she had stopped taking her medications as prescribed.

That context, which often defines how patients are taken care of, is often relegated to the clinical note, an unstructured document that is often lost in the proverbial digital void as more fill its place each time the patient interacts with the health care system. Thus, this otherwise crucial piece of information is often difficult for computers to interpret alone or at scale. At Memora, we hope to help those shaping tomorrow’s practice of medicine, whether via new health care delivery systems, new biomolecular treatment, or even therapeutics that operate entirely digitally, receive that contextual information exactly when it’s most beneficial for patients and those taking care of them.

Facing both political and financial pressure, both commercial insurers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been pushing for therapeutics manufacturers, from small biotech startups to big pharma, to sign outcomes-based contracts, i.e. to pay for progress and true patient benefit rather than incremental, often marginal, changes to existing treatments. This has put a larger onus on the companies making the next generation of medicines to prove the value of their drugs in the real-world.

Pharma has been trying to engage patients for years and better understand when their treatments are working, but it’s been difficult to determine which models of engagement work best. At the moment, companies will monitor patient behavior on online communities like PatientsLikeMe, reach out via non-profit research organizations and fundraisers like Tour De Cure, meet with physicians to better understand what drives patient decisionmaking regarding adherence and treatment selection, and throw advertising data at freshly hired data scientists to adjust their content as needed.

The idea of bringing together the access and convenience of a medium like text messaging to guide patients, check in on how they’re doing over time, and nudge them to change behavior in a way that works in complement with traditional medicines, medicine could truly build end-to-end solutions for multiple diseases.

In fact, this combination could improve adherence to treatment, via automated reminders and medication education, social support from care team members, family and friends, or peers managing the same condition, and more accurately pinpoint triggers of non-adherence.

Checking in on patients could not only give them additional social support and comfort, but also acutely notify care team members of when treatments are working well or not, leading to improvements in patient outcomes faster, and generate the data that they need to prove treatment efficacy.

However, both the biggest challenge and opportunity is the possibility for collaboration between the technology industry and traditional stakeholders in health care, including both hospitals and biotech companies, and the managerial foresight from both sides that is required to bridge the worlds of biochemistry and silicon to build better health care faster.

Memora Health is building the operating system for care delivery that implements intelligent, streamlined workflows and revolutionizes the patient experience outside the care setting. We offer a smart end-to-end platform that unifies fragmented health care data to enable providers, payors, and life science companies to automate care delivery operations — from patient communication to documentation to reimbursement. We uniquely use artificial intelligence to digitize existing care delivery workflows, giving clinicians infrastructure that learns from every encounter they have. Memora supports a full suite of virtual care systems from automated patient intake and scheduling to remote monitoring and care pathways to billing and documentation. Memora is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Kevin Durant, Martin Ventures, and several healthcare strategic groups.

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