AI, Big Data Analytics and Cyber Security: Key drivers transforming life sciences companies

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Subhro Mallik, SVP, Global Head Life Sciences, Infosys, speaks on how lifeciences companies are leveraging disruptive technologies to harvest and leverage data to make intelligent decisions

When a last-stage cancer patient visited a hospital with fluid flowing in her lungs, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was more accurate than traditional clinical models used by the hospital to determine her life expectancy. The algorithm could do so by sifting through 175,639 data points from the patient’s electronic as well as handwritten medical notes1.

This instance not only demonstrates the possibilities of new discoveries in patient care, but also how emerging technologies – AI, big data, machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) – have the potential to fundamentally change the way individuals, companies and governments work. The digital transformation across industries is enabling an era of unprecedented change, driven by a more informed consumer.

Poised at a similar intersection of innovation, science and business, life sciences companies are ready to make the
journey into the transformative space of technology, driven by patients ready to play a bigger role in their treatment processes and quality of care. Today’s digital patient is more accepting of virtual clinicians, wearable medical devices, medical apps, and home-based diagnostics2. And, is willing to share the data that these tools collect.

Trends and opportunities

This digital service revolution leaves no room for today’s episodic, unconnected and unintelligent medical scenarios, and in turn unravels a multitude of opportunities in patient care, drug discovery and health outcomes. So, what’s the way ahead? The answer is simple – a real-time assessment of patient engagement services across therapies. A more collaborative and personalised service that continuously monitors health parameters, is capable of taking preventive measures and action, in a closed loop delivery care. It has become imperative for life sciences companies to band together their internal units, assess digital maturity and digital engagement roles essential for their business to derive new business models, transform digital trials, and get a competitive edge.

Key technology drivers

The life sciences industry, just like any other, has turned to digital technologies to improve their existing operations, solve new problems and create new opportunities. With breakthrough drugs, valuable data and stiff competition, it is new-age technologies like AI, big data and cybersecurity that will play a crucial role in transforming the life sciences technology landscape and business acceleration. 600x400

A survey3 conducted by Infosys reveals that life sciences companies are well aware of the digital trends, be it 3D printing of drug doses or digital clinical trials. In fact, life sciences combined with pharma is the most mature in AI adoption. And, 90 per cent respondents agreed that AI plays a significant role in the company’s success. However, the vast amount of data that the industry generates and the importance of keeping it safe from hackers and competition ensures that big data and cyber security are equally important.

Impact of AI, big data analytics and mitigating cyber-attack risk

Life science companies generate volumes of complex data related to research and development of new drugs and machines, and risk management. And, the magnitude of this data deluge is only going to escalate. The process of drug discovery/development and clinical trials could take decades and drain millions. Add to it the uncertainty over the outcomes, older legacy systems, compliance and funds for development!

Here’s where AI and big data play a significant role by providing agility and efficiency needed for better treatment outcomes, drug development with improved return on investment, faster market time. The technologies harvest and leverage the data to make intelligent decisions. This enables efficient research and clinical trials for a more individual-centric approach. The trials can be more focused and predictive analysis could crunch gigantic volumes of diverse data from varied sources to suggest the most suitable candidate for clinical trials. Utilising the data in systematic ways can help companies identify a new potential drug that can be utilised for effective medicines. For instance, the MIT Clinical Machine Learning Group is developing algorithms to create more effective treatments for Type 2 diabetes.

Unlike humans, AI-led models curate medical insights without cognitive biases and make decisions based on strong data analysis. For instance, new-age technologies have improved the survival rate of melanoma patients from 16 per cent to significant 98 per cent by successfully detecting fatal symptoms at early stages.

While data sharing and analysing is the key to innovation, however, the gigantic amount of confidential and sensitive data makes the life sciences industry a prime target of cyber-attacks. The data arising from research and development (R&D), clinical trials, valuable details about products, pricing and promotion, and connected medical devices are at a potential risk of being hacked.

In the wake of increasing cyber-attacks on enterprises and governments, the stolen health data is said to be valued at about 10 or 20 times4 more than the value of a credit card number. Despite the awareness of such breaches, 43 per cent life science executives surveyed by a premier consultancy firm said they have not ramped up their cybersecurity investments. There are varying reasons for this from workplace attitude to considering cybersecurity as an ‘IT problem.’ This is a massive task and one that everyone needs to be thinking hard about.

Digital service design to take the digital leap

At Infosys, we utilise cutting-edge tools and metrics to ascertain digital as a value generator for life sciences companies. Our digital service design5 aligns key digital touch points in the care continuum to identify the benefits driving value to patients and measuring the return on digital for the enterprise. This digital service design can unleash a wave of opportunities in digital innovation to simplify future patient journeys and enable better patient care.

We will continue our efforts to make a difference with our tools based on Infosys Nia, our purposeful AI platform that is capable of transforming the life sciences landscape. It offers a single-point entry for AI with a complete spectrum of capabilities to accelerate business transformation.

Sources

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-018-0029-1
  2. https://www.infosys.com/digital-outlook/Documents/life-sciences-digital-outlook.pdf
  3. https://www.phishlabs.com/ hackers-want-your-medical-information-article-2/
  4. https://www.infosys.com/industries/life-sciences/industry-offerings/Pages/digital-transformation.aspx

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