Blurring of the physical, digital and biological boundaries

Jackie Hunter

The beginning of the year has been incredibly busy here at BenevolentAI - I am sure over the coming weeks and months you'll be hearing more on this - it is an incredibly exciting time. Despite the frenetic activity I try to make the effort to read around new and interesting publications in the digital healthcare space.


Of these, the latest Progressions issue from Ernst & Young entitled “When the human body is the biggest data platform, who will capture value?” particularly caught my attention.  This excellent report talks to the power of data and how it enables patient empowerment and the convergence of different industries in the healthcare space.

The potential for digital technologies to impact pharmaceutical companies’ business models is well recognised by executives in the business but the adoption of these technologies is still in its infancy. The ability of digital technology to enable the creation of healthcare platforms is fundamentally transforming the pharmaceutical industry.  It will not be enough in the future for life science companies to focus on innovation – they will have to leverage platform capabilities to drive their competitive edge and value creation.
The report highlights some of the new entrants in this space – Alphabet, Microsoft and Apple – even Amazon is getting into healthcare but primarily from a healthcare delivery and management perspective.  Despite the new players, the problem though is an old and familiar one - at the moment information and data is siloed both within companies and across healthcare organisations.  To drive fundamental change the life sciences industry instead needs to connect, combine and share data across organisations and platforms.

As Ernst & Young says, many life sciences organisations do not have the in-house capabilities or desire to build comprehensive platforms from scratch so deal making will be essential, a good recent example being Roche’s recent acquisition of Flatiron Health. I particularly liked the figure on page 49 of the report which talks to the acceleration of health focussed platforms of care – with near term deliverables signalling the transition to potential future states.



Source: E&Y


For example, in terms of seamless data sharing in the near term we will see the widespread adoption of electronic health records but longer term the development of blockchain and analytics will enable patients to access and transfer data form platforms in a secure and routine manner. Similarly, whilst primary care delivery via telehealth will continue to expand in the near term, in the future drone and 3D printing will create on demand product distribution.

The report concludes by asking how will organisations transform business models using the power of data? My view is that it will be an innovative step into the future for many but for some companies a challenging environment in the next few years -  and I am glad BenevolentAI is ahead of the curve!


Jackie Hunter