- "Healthcare is becoming a data problem," CB Insights reported. More than 2,310 exabytes of healthcare data is projected to be produced by 2020, up from the 153 exabytes that were produced in 2013.
- Human data and the ability to mine and analyze it is transforming healthcare and fueling a “new gold rush” of tech giants eager to cash in on this data revolution, Fortune reported.
- The data are coming from multiple sources. EHRs have an 86% penetration rate and 113 million wearables have been sold in 2017, according to CB Insights. Personal information, health history, medical claims, medications, clinical trials and academic research generate about 750 quadrillion bytes of data a day — or about 30% of data worldwide, Fortune reported.
Healthcare is becoming more data-centric. Companies already positioned in artificial intelligence could have an edge in pushing the envelope with data-driven tools that transform how doctors diagnose and manage diseases, optimize clinical trials and improve workflow.
AI expertise is among the three main advantages for Google parent Alphabet, CB Insights said.
Google Ventures, Alphabet's venture capital arm, has increased its digital health and healthcare deals in the past five years. Last year, the number of GV healthcare deals was 27, up from nine such deals in 2013.
In addition to increasing its investments in healthcare, the company is looking outside the U.S. for technologies and partners and is working with existing market players.
Alphabet has increasingly drawn on healthcare and life sciences for new talent. Verily life sciences arm is recruiting 10,000 volunteers to create a comprehensive biometrics database. Google DeepMind is also wading into healthcare via a partnership wit Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in the U.K. The collaboration is exploring how machine learning technology can be used to analyze eye scans — with the aim of early detection and treatment of age-related macular degeneration.
In December, Google launched Deep Variant, an open source tool that uses AI to create an image of a person’s genetic blueprint using sequencing data. Available on Google Cloud, Deep Variant is the product of Verily and the Google Brain team.
GV-backed startup Flatiron Health develops real-world data platforms for cancer research in addition to selling EHR software. Swiss pharma Roche Holding AG recently paid $1.9 billion to buy the remaining 87.4% of the privately held firm not already owned by Roche.
Flatiron currently has data on 20% of U.S. patients with active cancer, Daniel O’Day, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals, told Fortune. “What set Flatiron apart was that it was able to create regulatory grade, real-world data,” he said.
In a nod to analytics’ value in healthcare, CMS last week finalized coverage of DNA sequencing for advanced cancer patients. When used as a companion diagnostic to identify patients with specific genetic mutations that may respond to an FDA-approved therapy, the tests can improve treatment decisions.
The decision follows FDA approval last fall of the FoundationOne CDx — a next-generation sequencing-based in vitro diagnostic that works with 15 targeted therapies and can spot mutations in 324 genes and two genomic signatures in any solid tumor.