Cancer treatments have been advancing at an accelerated pace in recent years and offering notable improvements in clinical benefit to patients. New therapeutic strategies involving areas like personalized medicine, nanomedicine, use of radioactive implants along with advances in immunotherapy and targeted treatments are driving the next generation of cancer treatments. The present article discussed the top 10 innovation in the last 2 years which had a significant impact on the management of cancer patients.

Conventional therapies for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy remain a mainstay in treatment, but in many cases, a targeted approach is lacking and patients can be vulnerable to drug resistance. In recent years, novel concepts have been emerging to improve traditional therapeutic options in cancer treatment. Here are some recent innovations that have changed the way cancer is treated.

  1. Personalized or Precision Medicine 1

Cancer in one person doesn't always behave the same way in another person. Personalized or precision medicine helps to modify cancer treatment to a person's tumour. The gene changes (mutations) are unique to the tumour which can help doctors to decide which treatment is likely to work best. The ability to pinpoint genetic abnormalities in a tumour by genomic sequencing allows oncologists to appropriately use targeted therapies.

  1. AccuBoost in breast radiotherapy 2

This therapy enables radiation oncologist to target the boost dose to the lumpectomy cavity (the tissue site that most likely for future cancer recurrence). The treatment by AccuBoost technology combines a non-invasive method of delivering a targeted beam with the power of real-time image guidance. This therapy delivers the radiation dose accurately and reliably to the surgical excision site.  Additionally, the AccuBoost process strongly limits unintentional exposure to healthy tissue (such as heart, lungs, and chest wall) and minimizes radiation-related side effects.

  1. Immunotherapy

The engineered antibodies are used to target a particularly significant immune receptor called 4-1BB, which can activate killer T-cells to find and destroy cancer cells. This can be applied to both ovarian cancer and a common form of non-melanoma skin cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. 3

  1. Nanomedicine in Cancer Treatment

Nanomedicine includes the use of multifunctional nanoparticle based on a dense nanocrystalline metal oxide core (zinc oxide) shielded with a lipidic bilayer which is highly stable in biological media for long-term applications. Such highly engineered and functionalized nanoparticles can be used for cancer treatment and molecular imaging. 4

  1. Use radioactive Implants:

Brachytherapy involves planting and leaving radioactive pellets or “seeds” at the site of a malignant tumour. It’s used to treat cancer of the prostate, cervix, brain and other parts of the body. The implants provided stable tumour control and limited the risk of radiation side effects. The use of Cesium-131 brachytherapy implants result in less damage to healthy brain tissue than whole-brain radiation or stereotactic radiosurgery.1

  1. BRCA testing Kit:

The patient can now use at-home genetic testing kits to check whether they have three BRCA gene mutations linked to breast, ovarian and possibly other types of cancer. The patient has to provide a saliva sample to be analyzed.

  1. Checkpoint inhibitors:

The checkpoints are present on the surface of the human body’s cells. It informs to immune system they are friendly cell and not cancer cells. Sometimes cancer cells hide behind these checkpoints so the immune system can’t find them. The uses of Checkpoint Inhibitors remove these checkpoints so the immune system can find and attack cancer cells. These are proven valuable as initial therapy for advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). 5,6

  1. Targeted Treatments

Targeted treatments work on targeting particular genes, proteins, and blood vessels that help cancer cells grow and spread. These treatments are different from traditional cancer treatment like chemotherapy which acts on all fast-growing cells. For e.g. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) treats breast cancers that have the HER-2 gene mutation. 5,6

  1. CAR T-cell therapy:

This therapy works on collecting and using patient’s own immune cells to treat their own cancer. The T cells were removed from the blood and by changing genes in the cells to help them to find and destroy the cancer cells. This therapy also called Adoptive cell Transfer (ACT) for example the treatment of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the other for adults with advanced lymphomas are approved ACT.

10.Laser therapy

Laser therapy for cancer treatment involves a special light beam passing through the endoscope. The endoscope is inserted in the body to treat cancer or pre-cancerous growth which causes less bleeding and fewer damages to normal tissue. There are different types of lasers used for the treatment of cancer such as carbon dioxide, neodymium: yttrium-aluminium-garnet, argon laser, and laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy. Some of the cancers treated by using laser therapy are vocal cord cancer, cervical cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, vaginal cancer and penile cancer.7

Reference:

  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/slideshows/10-innovations-in-cancer-therapy?slide=3, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
  2. https://www.21co.com/radiation-therapy/technologies/accuboost, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
  3. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-antibody-breakthrough-cancer.html, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
  4. Charmsaz S, Prencipe M, Kiely M, Pidgeon G, Collins D. Innovative Technologies Changing Cancer Treatment. Cancers. 2018 Jun;10(6):208.
  5. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/detect-treat-cancer-17/advances-cancer-treatment, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
  6. https://www.asco.org/research-progress/reports-studies/clinical-cancer-advances-2019/advances-cancer-treatment, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
  7. Vunnava A. Review Article Open Access: Innovative Cancer Treatments. Curr Synthetic Sys Biol. 2015 April; 3(001):
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As the availability of big data grows across the globe, the healthcare sector is not far behind in making the most of the opportunities this presents for the industry. Better patient records, faster customer response times, and a technology-centric approach to predicting treatment options are all some of the new paths that have opened up as a result of this. Let’s take a deeper dive into how all this has impacted healthcare and also the challenges it’s brought with it.

Why The Healthcare Industry Needs Big Data

  1. Healthcare costs are on the rise: Several studies conducted have shown that healthcare costs are rising at a much higher rate as compared to income/inflation levels in India. This drastic increase in costs is expected to put more than 5.5 crore people below the poverty line. The Government has taken on initiatives to make public healthcare both more accessible and affordable, but the impact of these is yet to be evaluated.
  2. Decision-making is becoming more evidence-based: Having access to large chunks of information records and patient data, physicians and doctors will be able to provide treatments that are more evidence-based than we’ve seen in the past.

Challenges Of The Big Data Shift

  1. Capturing the data accurately: This is more of a general problem we’ve seen as big data grows across all sectors. Incorrect records are becoming more commonplace and harder to detect. Especially in healthcare, this problem can lead to severe consequences such as incorrect diagnosis and improper treatments.
  2. Data storage challenges and costs: With big data comes a bigger cost of storing that data. And in the early stages, before you begin to actually see revenue being generated from this analytics, your costs can outweigh your revenue. Moreover, healthcare providers are having to resort to cloud-based storage solutions, and this brings in another challenge altogether: security.
  3. Maintaining data security: With the rising number of reported cases of data breaches, phishing attacks, and ransomware cases, healthcare is often one of the most targeted sectors. Having a plan in place to secure the data being collected and maintained is a challenge that companies need to give attention to.
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With rising cybersecurity challenges across sectors worldwide, healthcare too remains one of the most affected industries when it comes to security and ransomware breaches. Almost 76% of respondents from the healthcare sector in a recently carried out survey fell victim to ransomware in the past year.

Are Employees The Biggest Risk To IT Security?

Most C-level healthcare executives reported that the biggest cybersecurity challenge was employee education, with 62% of them naming “staff” as the greatest potential vulnerability. This is consistent with most data that shows phishing and spear-phishing (a targeted attack to company employees that involves extracting valuable data via email) topping the list of the most common cyber threats over the past 12 months. As a result of this, several large and medium-sized companies are investing heavily in training their employees against such kind of attacks, so as to not have their systems shut down due to one person’s mistake.

Technological Advancements Have Put Medical Devices At Risk

With the latest developments in technology, hackers can now literally hold not only your business but even your life at ransom. At Black Hat 2018, a recent cybersecurity conference in San Francisco, two security experts demonstrated in a live session how a pacemaker could be remotely accessed and also successfully disabled an implantable insulin pump, which would prevent administering life-saving medication to a patient. However, healthcare companies are yet to act and respond to this vulnerability and must do so sooner rather than later, before we see real-life casualties resulting from this.

Measures To Stay Secure In The Workplace

There are several things we can do to ensure we are protected and secure at the workplace. Here are some of these that we’ve put together for you:

  • Making sure your employees have robust passwords (one that includes both, alphanumeric characters and symbols) that are updated regularly every 60 days.
  • Ensuring that your staff is up to date with security protocols and can effectively recognize signs of phishing
  • Conducting a third-party audit to test for any weaknesses and also to review cybersecurity training material is a good idea since it provides a fresh perspective to your in-house IT efforts.

Taking these steps will help improve your healthcare company’s cybersecurity posture and prevent hackers from taking advantage of any open vulnerabilities.

 

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to bring a paradigm shift in the healthcare sector. With growing accessibility of healthcare data and progress of analytics techniques, machine learning is performing several administrative and clinical healthcare functions. According to a recent report by Accenture, combined clinical health AI applications can potentially result in $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026. In this blog, we will assess the current status of AI in healthcare, its advantages and the road ahead for this highly debated technology.

Current Status of AI in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence is extensively being used in healthcare. It is being deployed in predictive analytics in patient monitoring devices, imaging and diagnostics, drug invention, and oncology. Also, AI-powered consumer health applications are encouraging healthy behaviour so that people don’t have to visit a doctor. It also allows healthcare professionals to access information on people’s day-to-day needs and then provide better guidance and support for them to stay healthy. AI is also helping doctors to diagnose diseases in early stages, particularly in the case of cancer and heart diseases. It has significantly reduced the cases of unnecessary biopsies and enabled doctors to better detect and monitor life-threatening diseases at a more treatable stage. This is particularly true in the cases of mammograms, where AI is believed to translate a patient’s mammogram data into diagnostic information 30 times faster compared to a human doctor, with 99% accuracy.

Advantages of AI in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence offers several advantages over traditional analytics and clinical decision-making techniques. One of the biggest advantages of AI is that it increases the capacity to process and store huge volumes of healthcare data. This copious data, when mapped with learning algorithms, gives doctors unprecedented information into diagnostics, treatment variability, and patient’s results. The accuracy of the machine can further be enhanced by equipping it with learning and self-correcting abilities. These enhancements can in return reduce the number of diagnostic and therapeutic errors that are unavoidable in human practices. An AI system can also assist doctors to make faster decisions on health risk and outcome prediction by extracting relevant information from historical data. This can prove to be a boon for developing countries like India, where the shortage of doctors is a perennial problem. With AI assistance, doctors can make quick decisions and reduce wait times of patients at hospitals and diagnostic centres.

The Future of AI in Healthcare

While Artificial Intelligence doctors replacing human physicians may seem far-fetched for now, one thing is for sure that AI will significantly deliver faster and more precise services to patients. The enormous amount of patient information will lead to the invention of next-generation radiology tools that will be more accurate and detailed. It will also allow doctors to define the growing speed of cancers and offer treatments more accurately. However, prompt clinical decision-making and prioritising administrative tasks will only be possible when big health data is aligned correctly with right and timely decisions and predictive analytics. In the end, it can be safely concluded that the future of AI in healthcare looks far more promising than it is made to believe. By allowing healthcare providers to automate repetitive manual tasks and streamline processes in unimaginable ways, artificial intelligence technology could bring about a huge positive disruption in the field of medical sciences.

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When it comes to mental health, India has consistently been two steps behind in both recognizing the seriousness of the issue as well as taking steps to effectively tackle the growing problem. The last two decades have seen a growing rise in suicide rates, especially amongst the 19-35 age group, as well as an increase in mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Recently, however, we’ve seen some steps which appear to be well intended to steer us in the right direction towards a nation that is more sensitive and proactive in treating such health issues. But are they enough? Let’s break down the challenges we’re facing and see if the current measures to tackle mental health are going to make an impact on the issue at large.

Destigmatizing Depression: Talking About The Problem

Even in educated urban households, depression is not welcomed as a topic to be discussed freely and openly. In a survey of 3,556 respondents from eight cities across India, a staggering 47% could be categorised as being highly judgmental of people perceived as having a mental illness, according to non-profit The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF). A staggering statistic, considering that it’s 2018 and India is often positioned as one of the nations on an exponential path to development. The illness must stop being stigmatized to such a degree, only then can we move forward in addressing it appropriately.

Recognizing The Seriousness Of Mental Health

While speaking at the National Institute of Mental Health last year, President Ram Nath Kovind pointed out some statistics that cannot help but make one wonder how deeply serious this issue is. “India’s contribution to global suicide deaths”, he said, “increased from 25·3% in 1990 to 36·6% in 2016 among women, and from 18·7% to 24·3% among men.” So not only are suicide rates on the rise globally, India is consistently eating up a larger slice of that pie year after year. We need to start engaging the community at a stronger level and making people aware that mental health is a real problem. Thousands of people go untreated since they don’t even know about the nature of their condition and that it deserves to be investigated and treated.

Implementing Measures: Are We Doing Enough?

The last few years have seen some significant improvements in both awareness and policy implementation when it comes to mental health. The decriminalization of suicide in 2017 was a step in the right direction and so was the Mental Healthcare Act that was passed that same year, which gives people the right to mental healthcare. Thanks to this initiative, health insurance providers are now being made to take mental health treatments into consideration in their plans! The intentions are in the right place, but without proper infrastructure and implementation guidelines, especially from state governments required to enforce this, we will still be far from solving this epidemic that we’re uncovering.

 

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Introducing a new medical equipment in an untapped market can often be a tricky process that should involve several checks and vetting processes to make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Here are 4 essential steps of the process explained in detail:

Checking For A Viable Target Market

However effective and innovative a product may be, eventually, you need to be showing a moderate enough sales volume to justify your costs. This means that you need to have either direct consumers or business clients who share a keen interest in the product you have to offer. Even identifying your target market can be challenging sometimes. For instance, a highly expensive machine used in breast cancer treatment may not turn out to generate enough ROI for even a cancer hospital as compared to a hospital specializing in breast cancer treatment.

Classification Of The Device

The device must undergo a process of being classified by the National Medical Device Authority under one of the following:

  • Class A (low risk)
  • Class B (low to moderate risk)
  • Class C (moderate to high risk)
  • Class D (high risk)

Once classified, it must get varied levels of permissions depending on whether it is a low or high-risk equipment.

Acquiring Clinical References And Gathering Local Data

In order to break into a market, the device must have a high number of procured clinical trials. More importantly, even if several trials have been conducted in other locations, that data may be completely different when compared to trials conducted with a local market segment. Thus, it is essential to have these localised trials to ensure both need for the product and reception/feedback from the customers.

Creating Enough Awareness About The Product:

Even with your verifications and permits completed and your product is finally in the market, only half the battle is won. From here on, your prime focus should be getting the word out about your product in any and every way possible - via CMEs, conferences, and digital partnerships. Reaching out to targeted hospitals and clinics is an essential part of the sales process that multiplies in effectiveness when they receive good feedback or customer reviews about the product (both online and offline).  

There is an absolute need for innovative medical devices which not only solve patient’s problem at large but also provide holistic and economical value, said Umeshnath Sharma, Director & Cofounder - EVAH Integrated Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

If you are launching new medical equipment and wish to speak to an agency that delivers end-to-end marketing solutions, you can contact info@evahworld.com

 

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In a study conducted recently, it was found that poor healthcare kills close to 16 lakh people in India every year, we must ask ourselves some tough but pertinent questions: Is our country at a stage where it can dream of quality healthcare for its masses? And if so, at what cost?

Even though the constitution of India aims to provide free healthcare for all its citizens, the truth of the matter is that till date the private healthcare sector is responsible for the majority of treatments, with out-of-pocket expenses accounting for over 67% of total health spending. That’s the twelfth highest among all nations. Let that sink in for a moment.

Continue reading India’s Healthcare Struggle: Affordability vs. Quality

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In healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry, and beyond, integrated marketing solutions can revolutionize your business. The key is working with effective enterprises that find the right blend of solutions that’ll bolster business in a multitude of ways.

One Message, Many Mediums

The way we communicate in the world has changed dramatically in recent years, yet often companies within the healthcare industry employ marketing strategies designed decades ago. Building your brand and establishing your digital identity are not two different things, but a coherent whole; your marketing solution should likewise not be fragmented. Integrated marketing communication utilizes the myriad opportunities to communicate across the many platforms available in today’s marketplace— including print and digital media activation, social networking, and event planning and execution— all working together to creatively bring your brand to the world.

Continue reading 3 Reasons Why Integrated Marketing Is Effective in the Healthcare Domain

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