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One Day, We’ll Break Down the Silos in Healthcare

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We’ve seen what can happen when information flows freely in healthcare. It took a pandemic to make it happen, but when COVID-19 hit and the world recognized that the only way to address this existential threat was to work together, amazing things happened. Life-saving vaccines were developed, tested, and approved in under 18 months. Antiviral treatments were brought to market in record time. Large-scale public health initiatives to get these treatments to those who needed them most were mobilized in days.

The common ingredient that made all those things possible: almost universal access for Life Sciences teams, providers, and public health officials to near real-time real-world patient data. The crisis marked the first time in history that many of the barriers to accessing and sharing patient data were relaxed, and the results were nothing short of extraordinary.

“During the early days of COVID, we did not have the information we needed,” said Michael Benigno, Senior Director and Global Real-World Evidence Lead at Pfizer at Komodo’s recent The One Day Summit. “We could not operate on data that was three, four, five months lagged. Then, seemingly overnight, improvements were put in place to improve the recency of data, giving us access to real-time patient encounters. That was critical to informing the clinical trial science behind our vaccines and antiviral treatments.” 

Benigno’s comments helped set the stage for an important conversation about the past, present, and future of real-world evidence (RWE). Recent improvements in data quality and access are creating new opportunities to transform the way we treat patients. He was joined on a panel with Tara Grabowsky, Partner and Chief Data Officer for Life Sciences at McKinsey & Company, and Danny Ritt, Associate Director, Pipeline Analytics at Seagen Inc. Komodo Chief Operating Officer Aswin Chandrakantan moderated. Over the course of the discussion, the focus shifted from lessons learned during the pandemic to a vision of the future in which RWE can truly rewrite the rules of drug discovery, development, and commercialization.

McKinsey’s Grabowsky helped frame the current state of RWE and some of the challenges we still face. “The changes over the past ten years have been unfathomable. The idea of tokenization and getting to the level of granularity we can see in RWE today was a pipe dream not long ago. But there are still challenges… The biggest problem we’re all facing is silos. Companies are spending a ton of money on disparate datasets, and none of it is centralized. So they end up needing to build a bunch of technology to organize it and create a more cohesive strategy across the entire organization.”

Seagen’s Ritt and Pfizer’s Benigno then shared their organizations’ approaches to addressing these challenges and starting to break the cycle of siloed data.

“We’re really pivoting from a healthcare provider–focused view of the landscape and understanding new markets to a more patient-centric view,” Ritt explained. “When you focus only on providers, you tend to get a very siloed view of the world that’s colored by a handful of key opinion leaders. By pulling in RWE earlier in the process, we can triangulate a view of the market based on individual patient experiences. That is helping to guide site selection and has become a pivotal part of go/no-go decisions and strategic planning.”

Benigno explained how Pfizer is taking a center of excellence approach to getting a more harmonized view of patient journeys. “RWE used to be used primarily by Commercial teams and some of our health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) teams, but there was no connective tissue — no standards of use or definitions for disease states that translate across teams. Now, we have a single point of contact company-wide that is helping build consistency and standards into the RWE process.”

Ultimately, the conversation helped shine a light on the critical steps that need to be taken at the healthcare policy and individual company level to move RWE forward. It also offered a healthy dose of optimism about what’s possible in the future as Life Sciences leaders continue breaking down silos to improve the accuracy and timeliness of their insights. 

Komodo’s Chandrakantan shared that sense of optimism in his closing comments: “Adopting a patient-first perspective is crucial for drug development, commercial strategy, research, and, ultimately, closing gaps in care. And, as you all illustrate, a robust, quality RWE approach can play a key role in making that happen.”

For more from The One Day Summit, read, “One Day, Healthcare Will Be Patient-First."

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