The Challenge

It’s an exciting time to be working in oncology. The FDA is currently overseeing 800 active applications just for cell and gene therapies, and by 2025, they could approve ten to twenty applications each year.1

Among more common cancer types, the treatment options are measured by the dozen. For example, there are currently sixty-two on-market breast cancer drugs, with another 350 in the pipeline.2

About 20% of global pharma sales is spent in oncology,3 and biopharma companies are investing heavily into bringing new oncology drugs to market—a smart bet given that 40% of US adults will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.4

While the influx of additional drugs and altogether new therapies is a huge win for treating patients and lowering cancer mortality rates, it represents a huge challenge for oncologists.

There is an information avalanche. You go to the FDA and you look under the number of oncology agents approved each year for the past decade, and we're up to fifty and sixty drugs. If you're a generalist, you have to know the drugs, the dose, their toxicities, in which situations you reduce the dose and by how much…I mean, it's getting increasingly difficult to keep up with things.”

- A breast cancer specialist at a leading university hospital system

  1. Jorge Conde, “Are we ready for the cure for cancer?”, a16z, October 19, 2020.
  3. Product sales, EvaluatePharma(r) July 2020, Evaluate Ltd.
  4. National Cancer Institute, Cancer Statistics, October 2, 2020.

The "Information Avalanche"

White paper treatment selection avalanche graphic

And there’s more nuance required than just understanding the benefits and limitations of each treatment option. Successful treatment also requires taking into consideration the patient’s lifestyle, goals, financial and insurance situation, personal support system and likelihood to successfully adopt a dosing regimen.

Making the wrong initial selection early on can have a massive impact on the patient’s life expectancy, so you want to get it right from the get-go. An initial decision at the start can have huge ramifications."

- Oncology executive at a leading life sciences company

In qualitative research recently completed by BrightInsight, physicians identified their top challenges in treatment selection. According to BrightInsight Senior Director of Market Research, Kristin Zyga, the biggest challenges were centered around the lack of integrated evidence and information efficiency.

“While clinicians always need more time, the top-ranking pain points related to evidence: the lack of comparative data, the need to sift through extensive amounts of information to find a highly specific data point related to a specific patient case, the challenge of keeping track of the extensive number of clinical trials and their endpoints. This pain point not only inevitably results in more time wasted searching for, analyzing and/or converting data, but it also results in clinicians spending less time in patient care—and feeling more frustrated.”

The Solution

Living in an era of radical innovation not only means that game-changing cancer treatments are being developed every day, it also means that we have the digital technologies that enable us to better empower oncologists to make more personalized treatment selections that lead to better outcomes for patients dealing with cancer.

Before, we had one test, and the storyline was pretty clear: there was only a limited number of treatments available. Now, it’s getting more and more difficult for the healthcare provider. So on one hand, we have a much better understanding of cancer biology which we leverage with precision medicine—we see what a positive impact it has on overall survival of cancer patients. But at the same time, we need to keep the complexity of biology in the back of our minds and make it simple for users. This is where digital can help—educating on what is available, and when to do what. One biomarker doesn't tell us the whole story, so multiple factors need to be integrated."

- Oncology executive at a leading life sciences company

Digital solutions can equip care providers to make more strategic treatment selections, removing the information overload while maintaining physicians’ autonomy over care decisions. Simply put, digital can help marry the art and science of oncology.

After all, only a skilled care team can take into consideration external factors like patient lifestyle, goals, support system and insurance while choosing between the myriad effective treatments available on the market. Digital solutions simply streamline the process, putting powerful data at oncologists’ fingertips and giving them the time they need to focus on individualized patient care.

Part of the digitization we're talking about is education of oncologists—of what’s available to them in real time, as this is an evolving, fast-forwarding marketplace; agnostic digitalization tools for the sole purpose of streamlining the education and then the execution of every oncologist are where the value is created in the digital world."

- Joe Bernardo, Operating Partner, Linden Capital

4 ways digital can optimize treatment selection

1.  Data integration

Busy oncologists are navigating multiple data sources, all accessed via different systems and logins. With digital, care teams can keep their finger on the pulse of the fast-evolving cancer treatment landscape in one seamless clinician interface that integrates EHRs, real-time treatment data from manufacturers and the FDA, and the latest news on trials and investigational drugs available to patients.

2.  Data contextualization

Powerful algorithms can instantly synthesize data from multiple peer sources and provide personalized, predictive analytics based on the context of a specific patient’s biomarkers and performance status. These algorithms will ultimately enable treatment sequencing—the most elusive decision-making tool for clinicians. For many cancer types, patients receive multiple treatments in sequence, and the efficacy of each subsequent treatment depends on the previous treatment selection. Digital solutions have the potential to unlock the data-driven insights that will help providers prescribe the right order of treatments to increase each patient’s overall survival rates.

3.  Data aggregation

Digital data aggregation facilitates more individualized patient care in two ways. First, it allows clinicians to access population-level data and trends within their practice, answering questions about which treatments are working best for which patient types, and which drugs haven’t been tried among certain populations. Second, with myriad data points in one streamlined dashboard, providers can spend less time searching disparate websites and more time with patients.

4.  Data communication

A compliant digital platform enables better clinical documentation and secure communication within the healthcare ecosystem. This allows oncologists to seek out peer-to-peer consultations across a broader network of experts, while also more easily justifying insurance reimbursement through clear objective rationale, documentation and stepwise management.

Of course, these are all clinician- and patient-focused benefits, but biopharma companies also benefit from an integrated, contextualized, aggregated and compliant digital health platform.

The big question from pharma companies is why aren't my drugs being uptaken by the oncologist? Why aren't we saving the lives that we should? Drugs with huge efficacy aren't being used. Why?"

- Joe Bernardo, Operating Partner, Linden Capital

Every single data point helps biopharma companies understand how providers are prescribing their drugs, how patients are responding and what the emerging needs are.

Normally, diagnostics are a one-way street. With digital tools, you have the opportunity for a feedback loop, and to continuously improve the models going forward. This helps us determine in which occasions medicines don't work, so we can start developing the next generation of treatments. If we can get that feedback loop faster, we can react much faster to the medical need."

- Oncology executive at a leading life sciences company

Unlock better treatment selection with BrightInsight

BrightInsight provides the platform leading biopharma companies trust with their regulated digital health solutions, including hosting powerful treatment selection algorithms.

White paper treatment selection process graphic

With your algorithms supported, oncologists and care teams can more easily determine the most effective treatment for every individual patient, using population-level data, clinical trial insights, data from connected devices, patient-reported outcomes, clinical data and much more. And, it’s all available in a single dashboard.

BrightInsight is helping biopharma companies empower care providers to optimize oncology treatment decisions, with powerful data right at their fingertips.

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