Innovation in healthcare can revolutionize patient outcomes

By Mário Romão, Health and Data Policy at Intel

The statistics are sobering. More than 1 in 3 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. Efforts in science, medicine and public health have led to a decrease of the mortality rate in the US (1.8 percent and 1.4 percent per year from 2006-2015, for men and women respectively)[1]. Despite these advancements, many underlying factors that contribute to the emergence of cancer, and how they may be slowed or stopped, are not yet known. In fact, a staggering 38.4 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes[2]. This alarming figure further underscores the importance of understanding the disease’s complexities for each individual patient.

Painful experimentation and expensive guesswork is frequently used in randomized studies of large populations to help guide patients’ treatment plans. Healthcare professionals face significant obstacles to understanding each individual patient’s genetic profile and disease history, and thus, often fail to deliver precise treatments that deliver quality outcomes. This is why inter-industry collaboration, such as the upcoming Biden Cancer Summit, is so important.

The summit is taking place on September 21 in Washington, D.C., and the event will gather many stakeholders involved in the fight against cancer, including patients themselves. Attendees will discuss ways that the industry can use innovative technologies, such as genetic mapping, to treat cancer in a more targeted, tailored manner that produces high-quality outcomes.

The Importance of finding new and innovative ways to treat cancer is exemplified by the story of my Intel colleague, Bryce Olson. Bryce was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer in 2014 and given 21 months to live. The “standard of care” treatments – surgery, chemo, and hormone therapy – didn’t work, causing Brian to take the initiative to sequence his tumor’s DNA. Equipped with new knowledge, he looked for alternative treatment. And found a clinical trial in Los Angeles that was a “fit” for his unique cancer. Fortunately, the drug proved to be effective in saving his life. To read more about Bryce’s health journey, click here and here.

What is telling about Bryce’s journey is that he did not just rely on the traditional healthcare system and a standard approach. Rather, Bryce used genomic information from the tumor to identify the best treatment approach, which was a drug being tested in a clinical trial.

How can we move from an individual success story to a more comprehensive healthcare system that tailors optimal treatments that are unique for various patients, no matter how advanced their disease is? It will take a collaborative, industry-wide effort, as no single entity can accomplish it alone. This approach requires patient support, interoperability, health data sharing, advanced computing environments and appropriate AI to accelerate discovery and ensure a truly collaborative mindset.

Intel is collaborating with partners to provide the technology that allows for healthcare transformation. No company can single handedly change the healthcare system for the better, which is why Intel applauds the effort of the Biden Cancer Summit and of Bryce, whose courage and determination is an inspiration to us all.

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[1] Approximately 38.4% (based on 2013–2015 data) – https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics.

[2] Ibid.