Healthcare AI Tech is Here, Now We Must Learn to Manage the Data

Xconomy National — 

Pharma and software firms are actively embracing AI and machine learning, but governments may need to lead the way in accessing relevant data, says Molecular Health.

Molecular Health, a software firm focused on transforming big data into analysis and prediction tools for healthcare companies, believes biotech is in the early days of using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in drug discovery and development.

It is not the technology available holding the industry back, but the managing and the monitoring of the data involved, according to Molecular Health CEO Friedrich von Bohlen.

“In certain parts of the process we can [embrace AI in R&D] already today, so it’s not so much a technology game, it’s really a data sharing and a data processing game,” he told Xconomy at the recent BIO-Europe event in Hamburg, Germany.

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“The data are really, really heterogeneous,” he continued. “One of the mistakes that has been done is giving the impressions by certain players that you just need to access data. That’s not enough. You need to clean data, you need to understand this data, you need to integrate them and make them intelligible.”

Asked by Xconomy journalist Mike Ward as to how industry can access the relevant and clean data from both patients in the clinic and from the healthy population, von Bohlen said it is a collaborative process. Whether a regulator, payor, pharma firm, or tech provider, “everyone has to contribute… everyone has to play a role.”

But the driving force must come from the top. “I hate to say it, [but] politics has to give a signal at least and then the others can follow,” he continued, referencing Germany’s Digital Supply Act (Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz – DVG) as an example.

The Act passed by the Bundestag in November and included the mandatory provision for health insurance companies to make anonymized personal data available for research purposes. The bill, put forward by German Health Minister Jens Spahn, states patient data should be used for “research, in particular for longitudinal analysis over longer periods of time, analyzes of treatment processes, or analyzes of the care process,” according to English language publication The Germany Eye.

Concurrently, industry must build trust if it is going to convince patients and populations to share data, von Bohlen added.

“I do believe that supranational organizations, like Gates Foundation for example, have a level of trust. If they could demonstrate how that works, it could be a showcase of [a] prototype for others to follow.” He also said that if a pharma company “finds the right level of interaction” with their patients, they could become the leader in the field.

The full video interview can be found below:

(Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash)