Five ways health care became more precise in 2018

From immunotherapy to NASA-like hospital Command Centers, advances over the past 12 months set the stage for more breakthroughs in health care

With global healthcare expenditure now exceeding $7 trillion per year, governments and hospitals are looking to eliminate unnecessary spend and deliver better outcomes. Precision health - an emerging approach to health care that is integrated, highly personalized to each patient and reduces waste and inefficiency – has the potential to transform how health care is delivered. Opportunities to deliver precision health already exist throughout the global healthcare ecosystem, from integrated digital diagnostics and AI-based clinical decision support, to drug development and manufacturing; from precision therapeutics like cell therapy, to 3D printing for treatment planning, telehealth and remote patient monitoring. These are just the beginning.

With the year coming to an end, we take a look back at some of the advances making health care more precise, helping to address the rising global incidence of lifestyle and chronic disease, but also reduce the billions of dollars wasted annually in healthcare delivery globally. Here are five ways health care became more precise in 2018:


1. New research combines cell therapy with tumor vaccine to treat one of the most challenging cancers

By the time the patient at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden was diagnosed with stage four malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, it had already spread to her internal organs. Her treatment options were limited. The patient’s last hope was a new clinical trial at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, where Professor Kiessling heads a team of scientists and clinicians developing combination immune cell therapy. This treatment brings together tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) with a dendritic cell vaccine to fight malignant melanoma. After receiving this new combination therapy, the patient is healthy, and her melanoma is nearly gone. [Read more…]

2. NASA-like hospital Command Centers helps improve efficiency and patient care

Command Centers - like an air traffic control – are now operating in busy hospitals in North America and Europe. Here, algorithms and Artificial Intelligence provide a clear, instant, and real-time overview across a hospital to help staff make quick and informed decisions on how to best manage patient care. They bring consistency to processes, help staff prioritize tasks, eliminate duplication and predict tomorrow’s pressure points. At one hospital in the US, patients from other hospitals are now transferred 60% faster, Emergency Room wait times have been cut by 25%, and time spent waiting in the operating theatre for a post-surgical bed has decreased by 70%. [Read more…]


3. Two major healthcare players join forces to bring faster diagnosis and individualized treatment

GE Healthcare’s partnership with Roche Diagnostics brings together global leaders in in vivo and in vitro diagnostics, again, to integrate patient data, this time to help improve clinical decision support for cancer and critical care patients. For the first time, these patients’ in vitro diagnostic data, including genomics, tissue pathology, and biomarkers, will be analyzed in conjunction with their in vivo medical imaging and monitoring data, and presented alongside not only their patient records but also medical best practice and the latest research outcomes. This offers physicians a comprehensive portfolio of information, to help them make more informed, earlier, faster diagnoses and to help determine the most appropriate, individualized treatment for a specific patient. [Read more…]


4. A 200-year old Scottish technology made the future of medicine cooler

While two doctors recently won the Nobel Prize for their work in proving the efficacy of immunotherapies, or using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, much of the challenge in this breakthrough treatment actually comes before the treatment itself, when the drugs are being manufactured. “The quality of the raw material determines the quality of the product that’s being returned to the patient,” Dr. Edward Scott, a hematologist and president of Key Biologics says. In cellular immunotherapy, it starts when the patient’s cells are harvested from the blood, frozen and shipped to a lab, where they are thawed, modified and then cultured. Then they’re frozen below -132˚ C (-200˚ F) and shipped back to the patient’s location, where they are thawed and injected into the bloodstream to attack unwanted cells like leukemia. What happens to the cells during the freezing, shipping and thawing process is extremely important, as it is necessary to safeguard cells in the right way, assuring their preservation, while following strict regulatory requirements before they are given to patients. Now, Dr. Scott’s company has new technology that helps ensure the cellular raw materials it provides to researchers and manufacturers is of the highest quality – a cryogenic cooler. [Read more…]


5. A radiologist brought 3D printing to the health care of nine million veterans

Dr. Beth Ripley wanted all radiologists to be able to easily pull images out of the computer screen and into their hands, allowing interaction with the data in a deeper way. “Looking through thousands of two-dimensional MRI or CT images to understand a patient’s anatomy takes time and training. By 3D printing this anatomy, we can provide a richer and more intuitive understanding of a patient’s physiology, which helps to make clearer diagnoses and plan for surgeries,” said Dr. Ripley. Today she is Chair of the VHA’s 3D Printing Advisory Committee nationally and a major catalyst behind Puget Sound’s announcement today of a partnership with GE Healthcare to bring advanced visualization 3D printing software to hospitals around the country. The effort is expected to not only benefit the VA’s 9 million patients, but reduce the time it takes for radiologists to create 3D models for printing from hours to minutes. Dr. Ripley and the GE Healthcare teams of experts believe it will help radiologists everywhere better visualize patient anatomy and disease for diagnosis, surgical and treatment planning – improving health outcomes, reducing time to treatment and enhancing the patient experience. [Read more…]