Embarking on the future of real-world evidence with data science and collaboration

The last two years have left an indelible mark on all of us – from changes to how we live to our perspective of the world.

2022/03 6 minutes read

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For those of us in healthcare, this has been doubly true as we were also faced with a once-in-a-generation challenge to how we conceptualize, innovate and deliver care to others. While meeting this challenge has left much of our health system stretched too thin, it has also primed it for a recovery that sees it stronger, more intuitive, and nimbler than ever before. 

The experience of COVID-19 catalyzed long-needed changes to how we operate in health, advancing the use of new technologies, forcing collaboration across previously siloed stakeholders and giving data a central role in the future of care innovation and delivery. As we look towards a post-pandemic world, we cannot envision a return to health as it was in the distant past of February 2020. Instead, we will build on and refine the changes borne of this crisis to improve the standard of care across multiple fronts.

Evolving Data Management into Data Science

Collecting and storing health data is no longer novel. We have any number of ways to quantify, analyze and record discrete data points about a patient’s health. What we have yet to fully realize is putting that data into action, not just for one patient but for all – turning data management into data science. 

As more data is collected and stored, curating and using it to identify potential patterns or areas of interest will require the use of new technologies. Natural Language Processing (NLP), for instance, can make working with large amounts of data more intuitive for providers, researchers, and others. Similarly, AI is rapidly advancing to a point where it can shoulder a greater share of the analytical load, helping researchers spend more time pursuing viable, transformative innovations and enabling providers to deliver more personalized, accurate care to patients.

Expanding Bodies of Evidence

The global campaign to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 demonstrated the value of real-world evidence (RWE) integrated with clinical data. This experience did not just produce safe and effective vaccines, antibody treatments and non-pharmaceutical interventions, it also showed that this hybrid approach is the way of the future. 

Even so, this process also revealed where there were gaps that must be filled, highlighting limitations related to inadequate data, methodologies, and a lack of epidemiological expertise among data science. Addressing this need will require regulators to release new guidance on how to utilize RWE. For our part, RWE companies are eager to support this process, sharing our knowledge and experience to develop new best practices. 

Collaborating Matters More Than Ever

As data becomes more integral to health so too will collaboration and partnership. The full value of data can only be realized when the data set is complete. Individual sponsors may not be able to collect data sets that are large enough to reveal meaningful insights, so finding ways to bridge these data sets across multiple sources will be increasingly important. We saw this in action throughout COVID-19 as the global impact of the virus forced stakeholders to partner and share data in new, unprecedented ways. Groups ranging from the Global Pandemic Data Alliance, the Real World Evidence Alliance, and the World Economic Forum’s Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs facilitated these new connections and have given us all a model for future partnership in the name of uncovering health innovations. 

As we look towards our post-pandemic future, it’s clear that the lessons learned from this shared global event will have long-lasting ramifications on all aspects of health care. By being forced to work together, to produce safe and effective treatments quickly, and to address the challenges of a novel, infectious disease, our health system has been put through its paces and armed with new skills and perspectives. As a leader in RWE and health data innovation, it’s now up to companies like ours to foster the best possible version of the future of health: one where these lessons learned can be translated into new treatments, real-world care, and healthier people. 

To learn more about how our solutions can help you seamlessly blend data intelligence, insight analytics, and applied experience through a global hub of healthcare organizations that apply real-world evidence to transform patients’ lives connect with us.