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Staff Highlight

Douglas Drake, Director, Customer Solutions at Clinerion

23.10.2019, Basel, Switzerland

Lenka Kellermann

Clinerion: Doug, why did you decide to join Clinerion, and how does it fit your background and experience?

Douglas Drake: 

My background has been in life sciences and drug discovery for the last 30 years, during which I have evolved from a bench scientist to a digital scientist.

Over the years, the industry and technology have developed, not just the science and our knowledge base, but also the ways to look at and improve patient outcomes.[...]



I worked a lot on the R&D side – I worked in cancer research and immunology – and, in the early years of my career, as my mindset was about helping patients, it struck me that we never talked about patients. We talked about curing cancer, but patients were not part of the process or mentality of the time.

There was a big gap between the efforts in therapeutic R & D, development, and the patients that would be treated.

Today, increasingly, with new technologies such as Clinerion’s, we have increasing ability to improve patient outcomes through better identification, outreach and connectivity.

I have several personal examples of technology hype that overpromised but did revolutionize the life science and pharmaceutical industries. Overall, my experiences got me thinking a lot about how we can optimize the different technologies available, but instead of focusing on current processes, focusing on improving patient outcomes.

Instead of just “treating diseases” as a generic thing, I realized that by integrating the “digital tech” and “patient engagement” components way more into the equation, the whole concept of “improving patient metrics and outcomes” would become the unified theme and goal. It is not just about how we leverage and combine these different types of research and digital technologies, but actually how they impact patients and healthcare.

One of the things that really excites me about Clinerion is this ability to quickly identify patients based on diagnoses, laboratory test results, and other criteria – and then being able to effectively find them, exactly where they are. This enables better outreach, better patient stratification and better directed care.

Nowadays, real-world data can also be used to measure drug efficacy, support advocacy, and improve overall drug treatment outcomes. RWD/RWE holds the promise to help us analyze patient metrics to see how treatments are improving patient outcomes.

So much data is now available, digitized.

With genomics, we are starting to understand disease markers and can apply this knowledge directly in the care of individual patients, thus reducing the gap between R&D and individualized treatment.

We’ve seen different multinational pharma companies adapting more and more to this new paradigm. As part of this new strategy, most of the largest pharma companies are working to bring a lot of innovative R&D technology directly into patient diagnosis and care.

I also want to note that Basel is becoming a life science center and hub within Europe, which was also part of my decision to join Clinerion. Basel is becoming a center particularly in digital science & digital healthcare.


Clinerion: How do you see the future in our field? 

Douglas Drake:

What’s interesting is that everybody looks at healthcare as being the same kind of implementation across all diseases and applicable to all patients. But every disease is different and each patient is unique. If we just consider cancers: lung, brain, breast cancers ... Compared to each other and to other diseases, they are all different in scope and impact on patients.

Digital technology applications will help very specific diseases to start with – which has already started. Then, it will be the case for other diseases. And so on. We need to focus on each disease and its specific patient metrics. Someone with schizophrenia won't be treated the same way as someone with cancer – and the same goes with technology. Some technologies will be more useful for certain diseases, and our job is to connect the dots to continue building this matrix to complete the story and journey for all patients.


In summary, I think that digital healthcare is evolving at 2 different levels:

1. There will be a better digital connectivity.

I see more connectivity as an obvious change. Everybody has a device now. Or several devices. Everybody is socially and electronically connected. I think we'll see better healthcare through that, meaning better access to data, to the doctor, to support groups. For example, mobile apps will allow a better patient connectivity - between the patient and his/her caregiver, or between a patient and the hospital.

The course of care will be better understood. Historically, patients go to the doctor once or twice a year, and that's it – the doctor is going to look at what's new. This doesn't give a big window to the doctor, and doesn’t support preventive care much. Technology in the future will support more and more patient engagement, in this way.

2. There will be a better data integration.

We have more data around patients and a better integration of this data. We now have the ability to query e-health records in Taiwan or Brazil from one’s PC in Basel, while keeping the data anonymized.

Technology will support us as scientists in understanding epidemiology, how the diseases occur, and the patient outcomes – how patients are going to progress with certain conditions.

One of the most interesting things to study will be to observe how disease progression, treatment, technologies and treatments used evolve under different economic classes, across different cultures, pharmacogenomics and countries. This is becoming the age of digital epidemiology: being able to map patient disease conditions, which will often have different outcomes, by continent, ethnicity, country and even by hospital.

Looking for "the right patient, for the right trial, at the right time"?

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