How Blockchain, A.I. And Other Tech Trends Will Disrupt Healthcare In 2018
The increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is shifting the paradigm of medical research and treatment. These advanced technologies are providing researchers real-time access to every white paper and clinical case study conducted on a genetic disorder.
Being able to develop such an elaborate database of information allows researchers to not only understand the full scope of a medical condition, but further shorten the amount of time it takes to develop a cure.
Founded in 2011 by Gunjan Bhardwaj and Gaurav Tripathi, Innoplexus is a technology and product development company focused on solving complex challenges in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Their end-to-end platform for Life Sciences research uses artificial intelligence to generate smart data and insights to assist in the discovery, clinical development and regulatory compliance of pharmaceutical medicine.
In addition to strengthening research efforts, Innoplexus works to help life science and healthcare organizations leverage these technologies to improve care. Whether a drug developer is seeking existing research, a medical researcher is searching for alternative treatments, or a practitioner is attempting to find data on a particular disease — increasing access to relevant information removes roadblocks to discovery and fuels rapid growth.
I spoke with Co-Founder Gunjan Bhardwaj about emerging technologies shaping the space, top trends to watch, and how healthcare will evolve in 2018 and beyond.
Describe the current state of the healthcare industry and what makes now such a prime time for disruption?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: The USFDA recently came out with guidance on digital technologies. What was significant is that this guidance makes it easier for digital applications to be used for diagnostic support. Large ecommerce players such as Amazon are expected to enter the distribution of pharmaceutical drugs. Some AI players as such as Benevolent AI are using artificial intelligence in drug discovery. Big pharma is collaborating with technology companies for smart diagnostics, such as Novartis and Google for smart autofocus lenses. The majority of treatment centers already use AI-based diagnostics for the first-tier of patient diagnostics. Companies such as Robomed are also connecting healthcare providers and patients using a decentralized approach, wherein they all can share data.
How do you see technology disrupting the healthcare industry currently and in the coming year?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: Technology is democratizing data and enabling continuous analytics for context-aware insights. A combination of Blockchain and AI will enable analysis of data sets that are not being currently analyzed together due to regulations or data privacy concerns. Insights that were unaffordable due to a manual curation process will be made accessible by small and mid-sized biotech companies, treatment centers and even patients. Technology is solving for making relevant data and insights accessible, while providing continuous decision-making support by analyzing enterprise data with external data.
With so much conversation surrounding cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, how can Blockchain be used as a tool to disrupt healthcare?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: Blockchain can be employed to keep the data decentralized. Imagine a world where patients don’t worry about sharing their behavioral or deeply personal medical data with pharmaceutical companies, because the data won’t reside with pharmaceutical companies but in blocks. If they take part in a trial and the drug gets approval, patients can partake in the benefits instantly through smart contracts. Blockchain and AI could enable a structural shift where all parties share data in a decentralized fashion, wherein the system could still collectively use the data to make smart decisions. This could overthrow the legacy hurdles of healthcare — data lying in different places, strong regulations restricting the sharing and analysis of that data, and weak incentives for sharing research and training data.
In what ways will Artificial Intelligence redefine the global healthcare market?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: AI will transform the market in a multitude of ways. For Pharma companies, it will set the stage for a new business model within a digital setting — from discovery to commercialization. We also see new AI-driven drug discovery platforms emerging. For so long, clinical development has been all about setting up trial centers and getting the patients to these centers. Targeted therapy presents a paradigm shift, with patients being identified using their personal and clinical characteristics in order to direct them to the right centers. Real-world data is already pushing regulatory boundaries and we have seen shock waves with the big ecommerce players suggesting their entry into the pharmaceutical drug distribution business.
Regulators are embracing AI to see how drugs can get faster market authorization and assure that they don’t remain bottle necks at the same time to avoid compromising patient safety. Additionally, many treatment centers are using AI-based diagnostics as a first-tier of clinical diagnostics, leveraging AI for enabling personalized medicine. AI and Machine Learning get talked about a lot, but sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. What are these technologies doing right now for the healthcare and pharma industries? Machine Learning is just one AI approach, but there are other approaches in AI as well. This combination of technology is helping researchers, marketers, regulators and treatment givers.
What is an unpopular or personal prediction you surrounding healthcare and related industries in 2018?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: I believe AI will fundamentally improve the way drugs are commercialized. It will also make a major impact in relation to discovery, clinical development and Pharma regulations, but these changes will be slow. I predict treatment centers will continue to embrace AI, however the pace of change will remain the same.
With these advances happening at a rapid pace, how do you see the healthcare industry evolving 3-5 years from now?
Gunjan Bhardwaj: Innovation will not just be sourced, it will also be commercialized at a broader level as smaller biotech and biopharma companies gain access to similar tools and opportunities. As regulators play even and embrace newer methods of clinical development, it will create a level playing field for many. Last mile and first-tier healthcare access and delivery will become increasingly more automated. In the end, patients will be the real winners with better healthcare results, even though AI-driven efficiency improvements may not be able to offset the overall cost explosion in healthcare.