Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

SAP, Oracle look beyond 'artisanal' practice with precision medicine tools

Tech titans using parallel computing to 'democratize data' on a broad scale
By Tom Sullivan
03:34 PM
laptop with stethoscope

The reality of practicing medicine today is that many providers make the best care decision they can with the limited data available at a given point in time.

SAP chief medical officer David Delaney, MD calls that gut and intuition style “artisanal” medicine.

All too often, however, more information exists that could help drive better treatments but needs to be sliced, diced and analyzed to glean insights applicable to the individual.

Penn Medicine is currently amid a 5-year plan to accomplish just that. “Our vision for precision medicine is to capitalize on the advances happening and improve our ability to gather information about people and then move that into the clinical realm,” said Anthony Wiemelt chief administrative officer for precision medicine at Penn.

That means moving away from viewing patients in a homogenous group and, instead, looking at cancer as not one disease but hundreds, for instance. Penn, with its Center for Personalized Diagnostics and its Institute for Biomedical Informatics, has a number of initiatives underway to involve clinical application of genomics, precision diagnostic tests for cardiovascular conditions, oncology, neurology, OBGYN.

“We’re trying to basically make it so we don’t overburden clinicians with having to remember all this information,” said David Stabile, an IS Lead at Penn. “We want to deliver it to them when it’s necessary to make care better or bring costs down and ideally make care safer.”

The ultimate challenge, of course, is how to equip clinicians with the information to make more effective data-driven decisions for the patient sitting right in front of them.

SAP and rival Oracle, in fact, have both offered precision medicine technologies for a few years now. Almost 5 years ago, Delaney said, SAP “clean sheet” developed the HANA platform wherein all the data is stored in a central repository, runs in “massively multi-parallel” process that is as much as tens of thousands of times faster than decades-old disk-based relational databases.

And here at HIMSS15, SAP on Monday announced that the American Society for Clinical Oncology will be using HANA to develop a big data platform, CancerLinQ, which will help doctors access the information to improve care for cancer patients.  

Oracle spokesperson Jonathan Sheldon said it has supported precision medicine for about 5 years and the Oracle Health Sciences Translation Research Center integrated clinical, genomics and lifestyle data “to enable organizations to identify disease-driven molecular biomarkers impacting treatment planning for patients.”

Whether at Penn Medicine or other provider organizations, among vendors including but by no means limited to SAP and Oracle, the promise of precision medicine is the ability to move beyond the limitations of what one doctor can know, into the data available in a region, the U.S., and at some point even the entire world.

“What we’re doing isn’t novel in the ability to do it, it’s novel in the ability to do it in real-time,” SAP’s Delaney said. “We’re using computing to democratize the ability to really leverage data on a very broad scale.”