The Modis Life Sciences take on ‘Exploring the Convergence in Health Technologies’

With the Life-on Chip event on the horizon, focused on ‘Exploring the Convergence in Health Technologies’, we want to look at what role Modis Life Sciences can play in this convergence. We reached out to our Modis Life Sciences Director of Project Solutions Alain Van Echelpoel & IT Director Sven Hofman to connect this convergence with our mission and vision proposal as well as our focus points in 2021.

Looking at the mission, vision and value proposition of Modis Life Sciences; can you recapitulate on the role of technology within the Life Sciences industry and Modis as service provider?

Our Modis Life Sciences mission and strategy is focused on a direct contribution, as a service provider and solution expert, to innovations in the domain of health and more precisely in the development and implementation of patient centric products, therapies, and services. Within the life sciences, we strive to be a trusted, knowledgeable and a preferred partner & advisor, supporting our clients and improving the quality for patients.

More and more, we see an evolution where digital solutions and technologies are entering research, development and therapeutic areas of life sciences and healthcare to bring holistic health solutions to market and patient. In addition, we are also seeing the convergence of life sciences, medtech and digital health industries. The digital solutions will play a key role in efficiency gains during the discovery, gathering and analyzing of data throughout the product lifecycle.

We want our customers to be prepared for the future by connecting our understanding of these new digital solutions with their challenges.

Looking at ‘the convergence in Healthcare Technologies’, what do you feel about the future of this convergence and how well is Belgium (EU) equipped to play a key role in these?

The convergence is currently happening and when specific hurdles are overcome, it will drive healthcare in the future. When used well, the convergence will support a more patient centric approach, where readily available data will be used to improve healthcare solutions throughout the product lifecycle from discovery to post-market.

Belgium is well fitted and offers a unique combination of tech innovators and a strong life sciences footprint. There is no denying that on such a small surface in the heart of Europe, we offer a unique mix:

  • 3 major R&D headquarters of big Pharma playing a role in this.
  • Strong academic and research capacity from major universities as KUL, UGent, VUB and UA as well as university hospitals recognized for Clinical Excellence.
  • Strong connection to major university research centers in the Netherlands, Germany, France and South of Europe.
  • Reputation for Clinical Sites and Operations in major local and global studies.
  • We have some key players acting as tech innovators on a local or international level: IMEC & VITO.
  • We are hosting several local and international (cross-)industry networks.
  • Close to the European Commission, EMA.

Going back to Modis, where does Modis support in this convergence? And what is the goal for the future? Did Modis already deliver services related to this convergence?

With our current service offering, we already support different aspects of this convergence. Although, we want to play a more prominent role in the collaboration, feasibility and analysis of novel cross-industry innovations & technologies. Since technology is already embedded in our current way of working, there are existing services where we already support our clients and their patients. However, there is a bigger role to play and we want to take an active part in this convergence.

From our existing service offering:

  • Cross-industry collaborations in research and innovation: program and project management
  • (Digital) health innovation projects for SME’s or consortia: public funding applications
  • Post market and Real-World Evidence (RWE) study coordination and associated patient support programs, including data capture and PRO

Current Service innovation

  • Including digital endpoints or measurements in post market evidence reporting
  • Regulatory pathways and PoCs for digital health devices

Active projects or collaborations

  • Home base trials using digital measurements for Alzheimer disease patients

Our support would be focused on the following key services:

  • Build out partnerships and support cross-collaboration
  • Program and project management in multi-stakeholder collaborations and cross-industry
  • Analysis for best path forward and ways to use technologies

We as Modis Life Sciences do not deliver devices or novel technologies. We understand the needs of our clients and assess with a deep understanding and knowledge how these new technologies can accelerate their business.

As a service provider who relies on knowledgeable employees, which expertise are needed to support this convergence? Are there examples where we try to build, capture or strengthen them internally?

Besides the obvious understanding of different life sciences processes and new technology solutions, you also need employees who can bridge this and who are not bound to one specific solution or technology. These are consultants who can offer a holistic view as well as support by carrying out feasibility assessments.

The following characteristics are also needed:

  • Curiosity in technology and a natural habit to keep up-to-date
  • Will to work together towards a common goal
  • Responsibility and leadership within the domain
  • Interest in technology
  • Clear communication
  • Skill to bridge between knowledge areas
  • Understand regulatory, privacy constraints and guidelines

Internally we have different knowledge exchange platforms, related to the convergence. The following ones spring to mind:

  • Centers of Excellence
    • RWE vendor platform and best practices methodologies
    • Project proposal for digital biomarkers in chronic disease domains
    • Regulatory and Quality pathways for medical (and digital health) devices
  • Innovation lab
    • Internal experiments with wearables and digital health apps
    • Build facilitation tools and techniques to streamline innovation processes and projects for life sciences / health innovation clients
  • Tech Watch: knowledge sharing on new technologies and applications in health domain

 

With the convergence, we are moving into some grey areas. What are the biggest hurdles when we try to connect other industries with healthcare?

The biggest hurdles we can think of are:

  • Issues with Regulatory pathways and guidelines. Novel technologies might catch regulations by speed and thus slow down adaptation. This might also slow down the tech innovation in the life sciences.
  • Multi-stakeholder cross-industry initiatives need to have a common goal and a clear leading party to be successful.
  • Healthcare (from industry) focuses on (advanced) therapies and drug products while healthcare focuses on patient service and outcomes
    • From blockbuster drugs to personalized medicine and care
    • From cure focus to care and wellbeing focus
  • Privacy issues. Data from electronic devices needs to be handled with privacy in mind and so data will always be locked from open usage. This prevents cross pollination between different solutions / companies.
  • Ethical issues. Where will these technologies lead towards? Who decides on fair usage and protection? Like in most cases, innovation starts out in a noble mindset but ends up used differently than originally intended.