Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The Convergence of New Technology with the Delivery of Health Care Services

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The Convergence of New Technology with the Delivery of Health Care Services

Article excerpt

Sometimes the most exciting developments don't make the big headlines. In early October 2012, at nearly the same time that the first presidential debate shook up the talking heads covering our national election and the tragic outcomes of errors made by one Massachusetts compounding pharmacy were becoming apparent to all, I spotted a story that received much less media attention but that was thrilling to me. The story was about the launch of the country's fastest genomic supercomputing platform. What made the news so reaffirming to me was not the fact that a new platform existed but that its purpose was to bring "genomic medicine into clinical practice by placing supercomputers in the hands of physicians at the point of care."

Probably before I comment further, I should disclose that the story mentioned above concerns a project undertaken by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, chairman of NantHealth and the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, and that I am a founding board member of another entity which Dr. Soon-Shiong started, the Healthcare Transformation Institute. I have known Dr. Soon-Shiong for about 5 years and admire his innovation, determination, and enterprise in tackling some of medicine's biggest problems. But the news about the advance in genome analysis set off the best kind of prickles up my spine, not because of who is making it happen, but because, after what often feels like a long wait, it truly is starting to happen.

The "it" for me is the convergence of new technology with the delivery of health care services. This convergence, I strongly hope, will positively change many of the current problems we have in getting the right care to the right people. Let's look at the example above. The story is about NantHealth's broad collaboration with multiple groups, including a state insurance company, National LambdaRail, private telecommunications companies, and premier semiconductor and computer companies. All of these players contributed to building a new supercomputer-based high-speed fiber network that cuts the time for genome analysis for cancer patients from 8 or more weeks down to an amazing 47 seconds per patient! Through supercomputing and wireless mobile health technologies, more than 8,000 practicing oncologists and nurses are now connected to the data. The new infrastructure has the capability to analyze 5,000 patients a day. This is the promise of genomics and pharmacogenomics starting to come to life in a meaningful way.

But what is even more important in the story is the fact that this critical genomics data clearly is making patients' lives better. …

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