Head of Healthcare Innovation, Roche
Personalised Healthcare Lead, Roche
Dr. Verena Murphy
Head of Research & Business Development, Cancer Trials Ireland
Personalised healthcare enhances outcomes for patients and builds efficiencies into the healthcare system. To be effective, however, deep partnership and collaboration is needed.
Data-driven personalised healthcare is an exciting development where partnership and collaboration leads to greater insights, better decision-making and enhanced patient outcomes.
Moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to medicine is important for various reasons, says Maeve McGrath, Roche’s Head of Healthcare Innovation. “Treatment that is tailored to an individual patient’s needs leads to a smoother healthcare journey and enhanced outcomes,” she explains. “Plus, using resources in a more targeted and effective way builds efficiencies into the entire healthcare system.”
Personalised healthcare relies on interpreting data and insight from a variety of sources, such as genomic sequencing of tumours. Yet there is a danger of overload here because of the vast amount of constantly changing data now available.
“In 1980, medical knowledge was doubling every seven years,” notes Deirdre Poretti, Personalised Healthcare Lead, Roche. “Today it’s doubling every 73 days. Take a fast-moving area like oncology, where it’s difficult to keep up with the latest information. If all this specialist knowledge could be pooled, discussed, interpreted and made available to local clinicians, their most complicated cases could be offered more appropriate treatments.”
Partnership and collaboration
That’s why Roche has been working with registered charity Cancer Trials Ireland to deliver the first nationally accessible educational molecular tumour board (MTB), following a successful pilot programme.
The MTB is made up of multidisciplinary oncology experts who discuss complex genomic analysis of their cancer cases. “We operate in a landscape where partnership and collaboration is critical,” says Poretti.
“Collaborating globally with other industry partners, health and academic institutes, governments and organisations is a way to find innovative new solutions to complex problems. The ambition of the MTB is to improve the standard and the practice of precision oncology in Ireland and bring all physicians up to speed on new and emerging topics at the same pace.”
During the MTB pilot, a number of attendees — including 16 institutions, plus patients, physicians and pathologists — discussed more than 30 complex tumour cases. Of the cases reviewed, 80% of presenters revealed that the discussions helped to confirm, modify or change the treatment plan for at least one of their patients.
Treatment that is tailored to an individual patient’s needs leads to a smoother healthcare journey and enhanced outcomes.Maeve McGrath
Better digital infrastructure
Cancer Trials Ireland is now taking over the management of the MTB. It is also planning to create a national registry of consolidated knowledge to help local physicians offer more personalised oncology treatment and the participation in a clinical trial.
“The registry will be a vital resource for those in the oncology field,” says Verena Murphy, Head of Research & Business Development, Cancer Trials Ireland. “A doctor in Dublin dealing with an unusual tumour mutation can receive input from the MTB panel, who will discuss it and make suggestions for treatments and suitable open trials. Later, if a doctor in Galway is dealing with the same type of complex case, the information about the best path to follow will be available from the registry.”
The possibilities of the MTB are limitless, enthuses Murphy. “If we could link up with other MTBs around the world, expert information would be available from every country, resulting in better treatment for cancer patients.”
Health ecosystem of the future
Yet, currently, the Irish health system lacks the digital infrastructure to support the convergence of different data streams. That needs to change, insists McGrath. “Creating the health data ecosystem of the future means being able to combine, say, genomic insights from the MTB with real-world clinical insights from electronic health records and outcomes from remote patient monitoring,” she says. “If we could pool rich, multi-sourced, contextualised data — and then apply technologies such as AI to interpret it — it would improve efficiency, accelerate drug discovery and help people live well for longer.”