Why I Won’t Rest: Bringing Empathy and Hope to the Patient Journey (part 2)

Christi Shaw, Senior Vice President and President, Lilly Bio-Medicines

This post, published in 3 parts, is based on Christi’s keynote speech at eyeforpharma

Click here to view part 1

Technology Gives Patients Control

We are lucky to live in a time when we are achieving great advances in technology and science that can help make our jobs as caregivers and our ability to manage our own health a little easier. In most areas, the road remains long. But while the headlines continue to highlight one failure after another in the field of Alzheimer’s research (and Lilly has felt the sting as hard as anyone), innovative brain imaging technology has ushered in a new era of targeted research that we hope will lead to the first medicine that can actually slow progression. 

Moreover, people with Alzheimer’s are currently faced with a major burden around diagnosis. Less than half of patients state they were told the diagnosis by their doctor. Because it is underdiagnosed, many may not know they have it and may not receive a proper diagnosis until the disease has progressed significantly. Diagnostic tools like PET imaging can help patients receive earlier diagnoses and start treatment at an earlier stage of the disease.

Currently, only 50% of patients who suffer from chronic diseases adhere to treatment recommendations. However, most people check their phones within an hour of waking up and will go on to check their phones dozens of times per day. It is clear how reliant people have become on technology and It is crucial we use this to find new solutions for disease management in order to improve patient outcomes and avoid more severe health problems.

But patient-centric advances do not have to be high-tech. Last year, Europe was the first region to launch Lilly’s new medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating chronic disease that makes even the simplest of tasks a painful challenge. And that is what we had in mind when we began designing the experience patients have with our new RA medicine. The pill itself is made with a dimple so that an RA patient can just lick their finger and it will stick – so they can put directly in their mouth without worry about grasping it with stiff, immobile fingers. Providing genuine support to patients does not have to be fancy. It just has to work.

Still, the digital revolution is undeniably the driving force behind the next wave of healthcare innovation. With smartphones ubiquitous and other digital technologies like wearable devices on the rise, it will enable patients to connect in a new way to their health and improve outcomes. They also arm physicians with more patient data, enabling more personalized care. For example, in migraine, these devices can alert patients when a migraine is coming and share with the physician the number of migraines per month a patient is experiencing. 

Additional advances in technology and science like improved genetic sequencing and personal health data will identify the best treatment for each patient. From these advances we have seen groundbreaking personalized therapies come to fruition. For example, the first ever CAR-T cell therapy received FDA approval last year and gave patients on the verge of death with no other options a lifesaving treatment.

Overall, the oncology space has been able to improve its personalization capabilities significantly. For instance, a recent study shows researchers had an 88% success rate at demonstrating if a patient would respond well to a specific drug through harvesting cells directly from the patient and growing mini tumors to test treatments.

While this progress has been extremely beneficial for the healthcare space, incredible medical advancements across the R&D process only marks the beginning of our journey. From here, we must continue to look toward patients in need and find ways to help improve access to these treatments.

Click here for the third part of Christi’s post, looking at what the future holds, such as a values-based approach to healthcare, and the potential of personalized patient models.

This post is part of our #WeWontRest series in which we speak loudly and proudly of our passion and dedication to improving the health of patients everywhere (and the exiting changes and challenges we face every day).

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