Women @ Work – Harvard Business Review

Women at work.jpg

Harvard Business Review did a great job at collecting opinions from many different experts in this book. It was one of my December 2018 readings and I thought it would be helpful to share a summary for those who don’t have the time to read it.


Women at work HBR Mind Map

Symposium Value Based Health Care

Universitätsspital Basel
September 20th 2018

Basel Symposium

Picture taken during the symposium showing Prof. Matthias Rose explaining the timeline of patient’s questionnaires and follow-up.

Under the lead of Prof. Christoph A. Meier, the first national symposium on value-based healthcare took place at the Basel University Hospital. Gathering several speakers, it allowed us to have a deep dive into Value-based healthcare and its implementation in the hospital setting.
We know today that the healthcare system doesn’t work properly in terms of quality and prices. It needs to switch from volume to value not only from a mindset perspective but also from a payment standpoint.
Beside initiatives like Smartermedicine and Lean, Value-based healthcare is necessary today to make our healthcare system more sustainable.

Keynote – Value-based health care

Dr Jens Deerberg-Wittram

Taking the Dunning-Kruger effect showing the link between incompetence and self-confidence, he showed how we could potentially explain significant mortality rate differences between hospitals in Switzerland (and everywhere else in the world). When you are inexperienced, you tend to be self-confident. The more experience you are getting, the more you are losing confidence to get it back after some time.

Dunning-Kruger is linked to 3 elements:
– People underestimate risk and complexity
– People overestimate their ability
– People never reach out for help
It is linked to quality problems and outcome issues in the hospital setting.

The other problem is how much money we spend to achieve those poor outcomes. Healthcare costs currently grow faster than the GDP. That deviation puts the question of the sustainability of the system at the center. None of the solutions we tried seem to work: more competition (US) or public centralization (Sweden) lead both to increased costs. In a nutshell, the financial challenges in healthcare cannot be solved by a political solution.

Michael Porter, in his book Redefining healthcare shows that value has 2 components: 1/ health outcomes that matter to patients and 2/ cost to deliver the outcomes.
Outcome measurement the first step towards value-based healthcare. In order to do so, healthcare organizations should start to measure quality and reduce variation in patient outcomes. Then the standardization of the outcome metrics will enable comparisons across and within health systems. Public reporting and transparency will support the continuous improvement of the system, especially if reimbursement is closely linked to the patient outcomes.

Outcomes measurements should also be uniformly and internationally defined. ICHOM provides standard sets for outcomes measurements by therapeutics area / disease. With already 23 standard sets developed covering 50% of the global disease burden, ICHOM is also working on having adult and pediatric sets for multi-morbid patients (preventing them from receiving questionnaires for each pathology they have).
Financial incentives to improve value could be implemented through several models: bundle payment, complication guarantee, result-dependent payment.
Bundle payments are the most appropriate model to finance care. In Sweden, the money the hospital gets will depend on the pain the patient is feeling 6 months after the surgery. 40% of the revenue could be tied to patient reported outcomes. Risk-sharing agreement are also part of the landscape.

What to do to implement Value-based healthcare?
– Organize integrated practice units. Organized by disease
– Measure outcomes and costs for every patient
– Move to value-based reimbursement model
– Integrate care delivery between separate facilities
– Expand excellent services geographically
– Build enabling IT platform

The Economy of VBHC for the Payers

Prof Thomas Szucs, Helsana

It is important to be more fact-based and not anymore policy-based. Value-based healthcare is an evolutionary process.
It could start by using data that we already have. Helsana did a study to evaluate performance indicators for chronic disease in alternative insurance models. They saw differences and were willing to understand the underlying reasons of those variations? In diabetes and cardiovascular disease, they could see statistically significant difference in the reduction of hospitalization by 13 and 8%, respectively. But it was not the case for asthma.

Pharmaceuticals are an innovation that could prevent expensive hospitalization in asthma, for example. However, where does value come in? In an efficient, market price is regulated through supply and demand but healthcare is not a normal market (beneficiaries do not pay or decide; there is information asymmetry and a need to build capacity to protect from potential economic downside).

What makes a product “valuable”?
– Unmet clinical need of high priority
– Meaningful clinical difference
– Clinical and other evidence that cannot easily be ignored or discredited
– Manageable budget impact
– Acceptable cost-benefit ratio

You need clinically meaningful differences to determine the extent of innovation. But very often price does not reflect value as there are price regulations, price referencing schemes and health technology assessments.

Values are benefits over price. Values are not static over time.

Pricing situation today lacks transparence. Current margin structure creates false incentives (low generic quota, high generic prices, slow adoption of biosimilars).
In Value-based pricing, the vision is to minimize the risk of inappropriate pricing. We need real world data. For example, Entresto real world evidence data showed beneficial impact on quality of life. Appropriate does not mean neither affordable nor accurate unfortunately.

For more:
Responsible pricing in value-based assessment of cancer drugs: real-world data are an inevitable addition to select meaningful new cancer treatments, W. van Harten, eCancerMedicalScience, 2017.
The enigma of value: in search of affordable and accessible health care, T. Szucs & al., European Journal of Health Economics, 2017,

Implementation of ICHOM at the USB

Prof Marcel Jakob, Prof Walter Weber

The real case of the implementation of ICHOM at the Basel University Hospital in two areas:

Breast surgery
The goal was really to improve the quality of life and aesthetic outcomes for breast surgery.
ICHOM was chosen because of the standards defined by the team. Using the best tools and the most appropriate questionnaires as well as KPI (oncoplastic breast conservative surgery) allows doctors to have the most useful and actionable feedback from patients. Patient reported outcomes should be measured in everyday standard clinical practice.
ICHOM allows patient reported outcomes measures (PROM) to be benchmarked among institutions. PROM are also discussed with the patient to refine further treatment and refer her to the appropriate specialist.
Implementation phase was supported by intensive collaboration between chief medical office and clinicians. It follows the clear path of Plan-Do-Check-Act in 6 steps:
– Initial discussion
– Kick off with the team
– Realization
– Reviews, attend consultation hours
– Adaptations on the process
– Evaluation, key learnings and handover to the clinic
1 year later: 97% of patients are included in ICHOM. It is widely accepted by patients (close to 95%).

Orthopedic implementation of ICHOM at USB for hip replacement. The main expectation were quality-based: indication, perioperative management, surgical performance and postoperative care.
In a nutshell, the quality of life is expected to be better after the treatment. However, there were some challenges, especially the additional workload because of different types of patients.
Quality control is an effort that has to be supported by all staff members. Filling a questionnaire on the iPad could be difficult for some people sometimes because of the technology or because of the type of questions. Personnel should be available to help the patient; otherwise, there is an increased risk of drop-out. To improve the acceptance of the questionnaire, it needs to be adapted and shortened.
It is important to explain why those studies are important in order to recruit and motivate patients to follow up and be committed.
Opinion of patient could change based on to whom they speak. It is fundamental to interact with the patient to find out her/his true opinion.
Good visualization of PROM allows doctors to focus on the patient’s problems and to factually show improvement or deterioration of the health and well-being.

For more:
OECD Working group on Healthcare Quality Indicators and Outcome (HCQO).

VBHC for Depression & Anxiety

Prof Matthias Rose

Depression and anxiety are the most frequent disorders (#2 for depression and #7 for anxiety in global burden of disease)
Many scales and initiatives are country specific. Howeve, international standardization is fundamental to allow benchmarking as well as best practices implementation. ICHOM promotes an international standardization (see below).

ICHOM approach.jpg

Source: ICHOM website.

Michael E. Porter, the pioneer and founder of Value-based healthcare, sets the definition of value in one of his article  as well as the methodology for outcomes measures.


Source: M. E. Porter.

In order to define the most appropriate measures, it is crucial to have the thorough understanding of the disease trajectory. Do we have a comprehensive measure of the disease focused on psychometric soundness, comprehensiveness, the number of available translations but also available royalty free.

Factors for Success and Sustainability of PROMs

Prof Jan A. Hazelzet

How to maintain the success of patient reported outcomes measures (PROM) in the future?
A lot of quality measures currently exist, but the majority is dedicated to processes even if some of them cover quality and outcomes but mainly medical outcomes and few linked to patients.
What are the benefits and the harms that the patient will get from the intervention? This is one of the first question to ask. Growing evidence, supported by the movement Smarter Medicine, goes in the direction of decreasing medical intervention when unnecessary.

Two books set the scene in the context of patient-centric care:
Eric Topol: The patient will see you now
Michael Porter: Redefining Health Care

Actually, we can only make healthcare better if we redefine it.
Health care quality should be focused on being:
– Effective
– Patient centered
– Safe
– Efficient
– Timely
– Equitable

There is more than the cost, the flow is equally important as well as the patient experience; and that is value. Focusing on the individual with the disease and not on medical specialties to change the mindset and becoming patient-centric. A team-based approach, in which a team is accountable for the whole process could help set up real care path toward a fully integrated care. It means change for organization and culture.
Patient reported outcomes measures means questionnaires because biomarkers and clinical analysis do not consider how the patient really feel. Results of the questionnaires should be discussed with the patient, it will support the commitment and the follow-up of the patient. Visualization is also extremely important for both the patient and the doctor
Overall health sets make sense for multi morbid patients instead of sending the patient 3 different sets.
The patient should definitely be considered as a real partner. Patient engagement/involvement is really strong and meaningful. Value based care is patient centered care instead of clinician based. It should be integrated and continuous. A disease team (united, responsible, and accountable) could define a care proposition with data support as well as performance data set. Patients can help with focus groups
Data should be FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable

For more:
Evidence-based medicine and values-based medicine: partners in clinical education as well as in clinical practice.

Round Table with Questions & Discussion

– How do you see the integration of GP? The most natural starting point is the identification of conditions where GPs play a crucial role. Integration between GP and hospitals is very crucial. The exchange of information between GPs and hospital is equally important to insure the close follow-up of the patient and the continuity of care. For many patients, the visit to the doctor’s office is very important. Putting iPads on the waiting room to collect some data on the patient that could help the follow up is also crucial.

– Value based care has to be linked to payment and we need to reward institutions that can provide good quality of care. In Switzerland, an experimental article will be approved soon and a pilot project should be launched right after.

– How to manage the fact that people will select always the best surgeon on the list and never go to the last on the list? The transparency will probably be more on the institution level and not specifically on the single doctor. Institutions will be specialized and will do volume in specific procedures. The main incentive should be that healthcare providers offering the same medical specialty talk to each other and share best practices.

– Value-based care should be supported by the doctors or it could not be implemented. Start with clinician champions that can talk and teach to the others.

– Value-based care adds value to the patient file and knowledge on how to better care and follow up with him.


Aging could be easier to manage with AI


An amazing Quartz article talks about AI and robotic usage for elderly.

It is a must-read for people not ready to hear that we plan to use robotics instead of real people to interact with elderly in specific conditions. You will read the opinion of a doctor mentioning its use of Paro to calm the anxiety of Alzheimer’s disease patients instead of giving them sedatives.

People concerned about the harm a relationship with Paro might do to a person with dementia do not understand the gravity of the disease, Petersen says. “You come to a point in dementia where you can’t trust yourself,” she says. “It’s like being dropped in another country where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know what time of day it is. It’s terribly, terribly fear-producing. These people live in a constant state of fear because they can’t figure out what to do next. They know something’s wrong but they can’t figure out what it is. And it never ends for them. I don’t think people realize how horrific it is.”

Image source

Symposium francophone de soins primaires – A quoi ressemblera le cabinet de médecine de famille du futur ?


Image source

Lausanne – 18 juin 2018


Points-clés des sessions plénières du symposium

Plusieurs points ont émergé des présentations et des discussions de cette journée. A l’avenir, plusieurs initiatives permettraient une amélioration de la prise en charge des patients tout en optimisant les ressources :

  • Développer la prévention et se concentrer sur le maintien de la santé de la population afin de limiter les besoins à long terme.
  • Mieux connaître les populations régionales, leurs besoins et leurs différences. Focus au niveau méso (en rapport aux autres niveaux : le niveau macro est le pays, le niveau micro est une patientèle, le niveau nano est l’individu).
  • Détection précoce des patients qui nécessitent une prise en charge particulière afin de limiter le recours aux urgences
  • Développer les compétences d’autogestion et d’éducation du patient (« patient empowerment »).
  • Innover dans le formation de nouveaux profils professionnels afin de favoriser l’inter- et la multi-disciplinarité (Advanced Nurse Practitioners, IDSP,…) visant la prise en charge globale et coordonnée du patient.
  • Intégration des évolutions technologiques pour faire levier sur les connaissances et améliorer l’efficience.


Le caractère crucial et très important des soins de santé primaire a été révélé dans un rapport de l’OMS (Organisation Mondiale de la Santé) il y a plus de 10 ans. Depuis, beaucoup de progrès ont été réalisés dans le monde grâce à de multiples réformes, mais il reste encore du chemin à parcourir. Les réformes ne concernent pas que les prestations mais sont aussi politiques car elles sont liées à l’organisation des systèmes de santé.
La médecine de premier recours ou médecine de famille doit répondre à de nombreux défis comme l’accroissement des maladies chroniques, la fragmentation des soins, l’augmentation des coûts et l’épuisement des soignants, entre autres.

De nouveaux modèles d’organisation ainsi qu’une vraie collaboration avec le patient, soutenue par l’interprofessionalité des soignants, permettra de couvrir une grande partie des besoins de soins de la population. Dans ce cadre, la création de connaissances est fondamentale, basée sur le contexte macroéconomique et organisationnel, la recherche ainsi que l’expérience de terrain. Plusieurs exemples suisses illustrent que la réflexion est actuellement en cours : mise en place d’un Chronic Care Model à Neuchâtel, étude QUALICOPC…

La médecine de premier recours est importante dans la mise en place de certaines initiatives de santé publique car les deux domaines se chevauchent pour un certain nombre d’enjeux.

Intégration Soins primaires et Santé publique

Source: Intervention du Prof. Nicolas Senn.

Pour que cette interaction entre santé publique et médecine de premier recours puisse être optimale, il y a une condition très importante qui est l’inscription des patients. Celle-ci permet leur catégorisation ainsi qu’une optimisation de leur prise en charge.
L’inscription de patients dans un registre permet une attribution à un médecin de référence. Il s’agit d’un levier puissant pour favoriser l’intégration entre santé publique et cabinets médicaux. L’analyse de population est ainsi plus précise et permet d’ajuster les ressources aux besoins.

Retours d’expérience de plusieurs pays dans le domaine de la coordination des soins et de l’interdisciplinarité

Suisse (Canton de Vaud) – Vue politique – Prof. Dr. Stéfanie Monod

Plusieurs enjeux critiques pour le système de santé de demain :

  • Le vieillissement de la population et des professionnels de santé
  • L’augmentation des maladies chroniques
  • La numérisation et l’arrivée en force des technologies de l’information dans le domaine de la santé
  • Les opportunités et les dangers de l’explosion technologique
  • Les patients et leur nouvelle posture (leur nouveau rôle)

L’environnement sociétal est en changement et il est difficile de voir l’impact. Pour répondre aux besoins, il est impératif de renforcer le système de prise en charge.
La vision politique comporte des difficultés d’horizon car il n’est pas possible de planifier à long terme alors que la santé publique se doit de voir 5, 10 ans à l’avance afin d’anticiper les besoins et de planifier les ressources nécessaires pour les satisfaire. Comment concilier les deux ? Maintenir la santé de la population, son autonomie et retarder les situations de fragilité et de dépendance (seuls 20-30% de la population totale sont des individus à risque et 5-10% des personnes fragiles et dépendantes).

Les soins primaires sont donc au cœur de l’action. Il faut renforcer les capacités du système communautaire (renforcer la promotion de la santé, améliorer la gestion des maladies chroniques et la coordination des soins, prévenir le déclin fonctionnel, maintenir l’indépendance et l’autonomie). Il faut donc se concentrer sur les soins primaires tout en limitant les capacités stationnaires. Le virage ambulatoire doit ainsi être encouragé.

Plusieurs mesures ont été mises en place dans le Canton de Vaud :

  • Nouveaux modèles en médecine de famille
  • Pratique infirmière avancée (ANP – Advanced Nurse Practitioner)
  • Articulations entre dispositifs institutionnels et soins de première ligne
  • Formation
  • Nouveaux modèles de financement
  • Dossier du patient informatisé, langage commun

Le tout doit être soutenu par le développement des compétences patients ainsi que le développement de partenariats avec des prestataires ainsi que le soutien des infirmières de pratique avancée.


Suisse – Expérience pilote – Améliorer la coordination en médecine de famille – Prof. Nicolas Senn, Dr. Monika Diebold, Dr. Regula Cardinaux

En Suisse, la part de cabinets médicaux où un seul médecin est actif reste encore élevée (45%) en comparaison aux autres pays (UK : 4% ; Australie : 8% ; Suède : 19% ; Canada : 23% ; USA : 30%) en 2015.

La collaboration avec les autres professionnels comme les infirmières ou les gestionnaires de cas est différentes en fonction de la région géographique : plus fréquente en Suisse Romande (85.3% des cabinets collaborent) et au Tessin (76.5%), elle est plus faible en Suisse Allemande (49.8%).

Plusieurs initiatives ont été lancées en Suisse pour faciliter la coordination des soins : Projet « soins coordonnés » dans le cadre de Santé 2020, Programme de promotion de l’interprofessionnalité dans le domaine de la santé de 2017 à 2020, eHealth Suisse.

Dans le canton de Vaud, un projet pilote pour développer un nouveau modèle de coordination en médecine de famille a vu le jour récemment. Le constat de départ fait état de cabinets de groupes de 2-3 médecins, souvent très occupés par les activités de coordination et d’éducation thérapeutique avec une population de patients moyennement complexes.

Après une recherche de littérature, un nouveau modèle de coordination des soins a été ébauché visant à :

  • Optimiser la prise en charge des patients
  • Soutenir la continuité de la gestion, de l’information et de la relation
  • Diminuer les hospitalisations et le recours aux urgences
  • Développer un fonctionnement interprofessionnel au sein du cabinet
  • Développer un partenariat médecin de famille-santé publique

Plusieurs interventions ont été listées et choisies comme par exemple la mise en place d’un système de soutien à la coordination des soins et le développement d’une structure pour favoriser les relations entre les soignants ainsi qu’entre les soignants et les patients.
Des études d’impact ont également été réalisées afin de vérifier l’adéquation de ces interventions dans le contexte particulier de la médecine de famille. Un modèle a été défini afin d’être mis en application.

Coordination des soins


Ce modèle vise à s’adapter à chaque cabinet, il est flexible et non limitatif. Il est en train d’être mis en place dans le cadre d’un projet pilote avec environ 10 cabinets. Ce retour d’expérience sur 2-3 ans permettra éventuellement d’appliquer certains ajustements avant un déploiement de plus grande ampleur.

Les enjeux de ce projet sont importants :

  • Répondre aux besoins sanitaires actuels en soins de premier recours
  • Développer l’interprofessionnalité en médecine de famille
  • Encourager un partenariat entre les cabinets privés et le Service de Santé Publique
  • Effectuer un « scale-up » du projet pilote aux autres cabinets du canton
  • Assurer un juste équilibre entre flexibilité et pratiques uniformes
  • Permettre l’intégration des évolutions technologiques


France – Rôle des infirmières ASALEE – Dr. Hector Flacoff, Gaëlle Savigneau

En 2004, un dispositif expérimental, précurseur d’Asalée, a été lancé dans le département des Deux-Sèvres. L’objectif est d’offrir un suivi individualisé aux patients en équipe pluriprofessionnelle (médecin – IDSP ou Infirmière Déléguée à la Santé Publique). Le financement est assuré aujourd’hui par l’assurance maladie et le ministère public. La collaboration est innovante et évolutive ; elle s’est développée dans toute la France avec plus de 550 IDSP. Le soutien et l’encouragement de cette initiative se poursuivent avec son inclusion dans la stratégie nationale de santé 2018-2022 dont l’objectif est de renforcer l’accès territorial aux soins.
Ce type de prise en charge fonctionne bien pour des pathologies chroniques nécessitant un suivi rapproché et une éducation thérapeutique. Un projet thérapeutique et un objectif de vie seront définis avec le patient. L’infirmière s’occupe du suivi et ne sollicitera le médecin que pour des problématiques particulières ou pour les visites de contrôle. Cette approche permet souplesse et temporalité pour le patient. L’infirmière peut en effet prendre plus de temps pour écouter et échanger avec le patient sans pression temporelle. L’infirmière est payée par l’institution Asalée, le médecin ne va que signer un contrat de coopération et mettre un local à disposition pour l’infirmière. Les échanges entre le médecin et l’infirmière seront ensuite réguliers en fonction des cas.


Belgique – Innovation dans les maisons médicales – Dr. Jean Macqt, Dr. Hubert Jamart, Monique Ferguson

La Belgique est un pays en réformes permanentes étant donné sa situation politique où la concertation prend beaucoup de temps. Des incohérences dans la répartition des compétences s’ajoutent à cela induisant des négociations sur l’organisation des soins entre le fédéral et le régional.
A la base, la majorité des prestataires sont privés et l’offre hospitalière est importante. L’assurance maladie fédérale reste le garant d’un accès financier aux soins d’une manière libre.
Le système évolue en permanence au rythme des résultats de ces discussions et est le fruit d’un équilibre entre les différents piliers existants en Belgique (catholique vs. non catholique, francophone vs. non-francophone,…).
Ces tendances empêchent l’intégration des soins d’une manière structurée et optimale. De plus, chaque acteur y va de son initiative d’intégration répondant à des logiques territoriales, de fonctions « intégratrices », de dossiers partagés, de nouveaux modes de paiements,…

Plusieurs projets ont été lancés dont Integreo qui va viser à favoriser les échanges entre les « case managers » et les réseaux de soins tout en soutenant le patient dans ses connaissances en autogestion.
Il existe en Belgique plus d’une centaine de maisons médicales (intégrant environ 2500 professionnels) soignant plus de 250’000 patients. Il s’agit d’un secteur en croissance dont l’essor a été favorisé par le GERM (Groupe d’Etudes pour une Réforme de la Médecine).

Plusieurs idées comme le paiement forfaitaire et un changement dans l’enseignement de la médecine afin d’encourager les échanges entre professionnels ont permis de soutenir ce développement de coordination des soins (parcours de soins, communication, équipes multidisciplinaires,…).

Le DEQuaP est un projet d’autoévaluation participatif qui permet aux maisons de santé de s’améliorer en continu en fonction du retour des professionnels mais aussi des patients.


Québec – Gestion des cas et interprofessionnalité – Prof. Catherine Hudon, Prof. Mylaine Breton

Le Québec vise principalement l’intégration des volets santé et sociaux par le biais d’un modèle basé sur la centralisation. Celle-ci a eu des effets importants sur le nombre d’établissements qui est passé de 683 à 34 en quatre décennies. Le territoire a été divisé en régions afin d’y implanter des centres ayant des responsabilités populationnelles.
Plusieurs structures permettent un bon fonctionnement du système comme les équipes multidisciplinaires, les pratiques de groupes, les attributions d’infirmières ainsi que la contractualisation des échanges.

Pour les patients complexes, sollicitant beaucoup le système, le « case management » peut vraiment apporter énormément de valeur tant au patient (meilleure prise en charge) qu’au système (moins de frais d’urgences).

On parle de cas complexes quand plusieurs conditions sont réunies : maladies chroniques, précarité socio-économique, troubles de santé mentale. 80% des coûts sont générés par ce type de patients.

Source : A Conceptual Model of the Role of Complexity in the Care of Patients With Multiple Chronic Conditions, Grembowski, David PhD & al., Medical Care: March 2014 – Volume 52 – Issue – p S7–S14.

L’objectif est d’évaluer, planifier, faciliter et coordonner les soins pour répondre aux besoins de la personne et de ses proches. Assurer une meilleure communication entre toutes les ressources permet également une optimisation des soins et des résultats.

L’infirmière qui gère le cas devient la répondante principale et va se concentrer sur le projet de vie du patient. Le patient devient un partenaire à part entière, éduqué et responsabilité, qui va faire des choix en collaboration avec les professionnels. Pour ce faire, un repérage efficace et précoce est nécessaire pour optimiser les ressources et les structures.


Sources & références

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program: the experience of frequent users of health care services and peer leaders, Family Practice, 2016.

Médecins de premier recours – Situation en Suisse, tendances récentes et comparaison internationale, Obsan, Dossier 50, 2015. https://www.obsan.admin.ch/sites/default/files/publications/2015/obsan_dossier_50_1.pdf

Case Management for Frequent Users with Chronic Disease in Primary Care. Conference Presentation, 2013.

Nouveaux modèles de soins pour la médecine de premier recours. Rapport du Groupe de travail „Nouveaux modèles de soins pour la médecine de premier recours“ de la CDS et de l’OFSP, 2012.

Les soins de santé primaires – Maintenant plus que jamais. WHO, 2008.

Médecine personnalisée – Quelles libertés dans la santé de demain ?

Histoire et cite

Table ronde du 23 mars 2018 à l’Université de Genève dans le cadre du festival Histoire et Cité

Interventions de Micheline Louis-Courvoisier, Bertrand Kiefer et Christian Lovis

La diversité des intervenants permet la combinaison d’une perspective historique avec une approche de société pour analyser les problématiques d’aujourd’hui et de demain concernant la médecine personnalisée.

Quelles libertés pour le malade d’hier ? – Micheline Louis-Courvoisier

Micheline Louis-Courvoisier nous propose une approche historique de la médecine personnalisée. En tant qu’historienne et spécialiste de l’histoire de la médecine, elle nous explique comment se passaient les consultations au 18ème siècle et comment on peut relier ces expériences au contexte d’aujourd’hui.

Au cours du 18ème siècle, les consultations se faisaient sur une base épistolaire (correspondance écrite entre le soignant/médecin et son patient). Il y a plusieurs raisons à cela : la médecine basée sur les humeurs n’avait pas besoin de l’examen du corps physique ; les soignants étaient plus rares qu’aujourd’hui et souvent, même en cas de consultation occasionnelle en personne, les patients donnaient des nouvelles à leur médecin dans l’intervalle. On écrivait donc à son médecin, cependant ceci était réservé à la partie lettrée de la population.

Cette pratique permettait au médecin d’analyser l’expression de la maladie chez chaque patient en fonction de son ressenti. Le patient organisait son récit à sa manière, il n’y avait pas de lettre-type et chacun d’entre eux s’exprimait différemment. L’écriture en elle-même avait probablement également une valeur thérapeutique puisqu’il a été prouvé par plusieurs études récentes que si un patient relate ses symptômes par écrit, cela permet de le soulager partiellement.

La transmission des sens s’effectuait d’abord du somatique au sémiotique (de la maladie et des symptômes à son expression par le patient) et du sémiotique au somatique (par le médecin qui essayait d’interpréter les mots du patients). Afin de faciliter la compréhension par le médecin, le patient utilisait très souvent des comparaisons ou des images pour représenter et détailler ce qu’il ressentait.

La connexion entre les émotions et le corps a toujours été analysée et a encore été étudiée dernièrement dans une étude publiée en 2014. Les personnes participant à l’étude devaient reporter les sensations corporelles en lien avec des émotions stimulées.

topographie corporelle

Topographie corporelle des émotions de base (supérieures) et des émotions non basiques (inférieures) associées aux mots. Les cartes du corps montrent les régions dont l’activation a augmenté (couleurs chaudes) ou diminué (couleurs froides) lorsqu’on ressent chaque émotion. (P < 0,05 FDR corrigé ; t > 1,94). La barre de couleur indique la plage de statistiques t.

Source : Bodily maps of emotions; Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari and Jari K. Hietanen; PNAS January 14, 2014. 111 (2) 646-651.

Ce type de consultation permet de constater que la relation médecin-patient reposait sur plusieurs dimensions : précision de la sensation, précision de l’expression et précision de la transmission. Au 18ème siècle, la médecine était donc très personnalisée et individualisée puisque le lien entre le médecin et le patient, basé sur une correspondance d’écrits, permettait des traitements adaptés en fonction de chaque situation.

Aujourd’hui, la situation a changé et le patient n’écrit plus à son médecin. Ce n’est pas pour autant qu’il ne bénéficie pas d’un traitement personnalisé.

Quelles libertés dans la santé de demain ? – Bertrand Kiefer

Bertrand Kiefer nous parle de la technologie et de son impact sur le système de santé mais aussi sur notre perception de la santé en elle-même.

Le pouvoir de la technologie s’accélère et dissout progressivement les liens que l’humain entretient avec la nature. Cette domination graduelle permet de dépasser la nature. Aujourd’hui est une époque centrée sur l’hybridation entre l’humain et les machines, entre l’humain et les informations grâce à l’émergence de nouvelles technologie dans le domaine des prothèses (orthopédie, cardiologie), des organes (transplantation), des cellules (immuno-oncologie) et des gènes (technologie CRISP-Cas9).

L’individu peut être vu comme un système de données. La réalité augmentée qui en est dérivée permet de voir plus que la réalité engendrant ainsi une individualisation plus poussée ainsi qu’une nouvelle dimension de la communauté.

Régis Debray, mentionné par Bertrand Kiefer, a étudié la progression des sociétés dans le contexte de l’évolution des technologies (voir tableau ci-dessous). Selon ses propos, la période actuelle est caractérisée par les réseaux, les algorithmes et l’individualisme. La technologie a donc considérablement changé l’humain et, aujourd’hui, des tendances quelque peu extrêmes émergent, comme par exemple le solutionnisme (vision philosophique qui présuppose une solution technologique à tout problème humain) ou encore le transhumanisme (mouvement prônant l’usage des sciences et des techniques afin d’améliorer la condition humaine en supprimant la souffrance, la maladie, le vieillissement ou la mort).



Ces tendances soulignent toutes que la santé personnalisée est possible aujourd’hui grâce à toutes les données qui permettent des diagnostics et des traitements plus précis.

Par contre, on a perdu le concept de normalité puisqu’il n’y a plus de « bonne santé ». En effet, un être humain se positionne toujours sur un continuum car il est toujours porteur de facteurs de risque et de prédispositions. De ce fait, on n’arrive plus à distinguer ce qui est normal de ce qui est pathologique.

L’humain garde toutefois sa liberté, qui, pour l’instant, perdure encore dans les fondements de notre société. Cette liberté permet aussi de construire la relation médecin-patient à travers les décisions partagées et les discussions liées à chaque pathologie malgré des incertitudes croissantes. Les asymétries dans la transparence contribuent à ces incertitudes car les personnes et leurs données deviennent de plus en plus accessibles, à l’inverse les entreprises et les gouvernements s’enfoncent dans l’opacité tout en surveillant étroitement les individus à travers leurs données.

Même si une partie des actes médicaux pourrait être accomplie par des robots ou des auxiliaires technologiques, la relation soignant-patient comporte tellement de niveaux (langage verbal et non-verbal, plusieurs niveaux d’interaction, transfert et contre-transfert) qu’il n’est pas possible de la remplacer. Elle est également ancrée dans une communauté de destins, sous-entendant que le soignant fait preuve d’empathie puisqu’il est lui-même faillible et mortel, tout comme son patient.

Médecine personnalisée et prédictive – Christian Lovis

Christian Lovis nous parle du déterminisme sous-jacent à la médecine personnalisée et prédictive. Le déterminisme part du principe selon lequel la succession de chaque événement est déterminée en vertu du principe de causalité. Se pose alors la question de savoir dans quelle mesure nous sommes déterminés ou libres de ce qui nous arrive ?

La biologie moléculaire s’appuie principalement sur ce déterminisme qui est encore en évolution puisque l’on n’a pas encore découvert tous les marqueurs de toutes les pathologies existantes. Le lien de causalité est parfois aussi difficile à établir. Cependant, une grande partie des thérapies ciblées contre le cancer cherchent à enrayer les processus qui se cachent derrière ces marqueurs. Ceci a contribué à améliorer l’efficacité des traitements de manière significative.

Il faut toutefois être conscient que la génétique n’explique pas tout. Selon un chercheur, seuls 10% de notre santé seraient déterminés par les gènes et la biologie. A nuancer toutefois puisque lorsque la génétique est contributive, elle l’est massivement.

determinant of health

Source: Public policy frameworks for improving population health, A.R. Tarlov, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999;896:281-93.

Ce qui est unique en nous est beaucoup plus important que ce que l’on a en commun avec les autres êtres humains. De plus, il a été prouvé que ce n’est pas forcément la séquence codante de notre ADN qui détermine la caractéristique génétique mais les séquences régulatrices qui entourent celle qui est codante.

Les données qui caractérisent le comportement ainsi que l’écosystème dans lequel nous vivons jouent un rôle majeur dans notre santé et sont disponibles pour être analysés. Progressivement, comme discuté précédemment, la donnée va remplacer l’humain. Nous sommes tous uniques mais le danger est de devoir ressembler à une catégorie particulière avec laquelle nous avons des points communs mais qui ne nous correspond pas complètement. Cette catégorisation induira une perte de la liberté individuelle qui pourrait potentiellement entraîner une dangereuse émergence des eugénisme et hygiénisme du passé.

Les données risquent fortement de remettre en question le système solidaire qui existe aujourd’hui. Ceci est principalement lié au fait que les données qui sont collectées sont structurées et elles perdent du contenu au cours du processus de structuration. Il y a un énorme décalage entre la perception de la société civile sur la santé et la réalité. La société civile doit lutter pour comprendre cette nouvelle médecine qui est basée sur un grand nombre de données et une technologie de plus en plus imposante.

Le développement des algorithmes et de la technologie va fort probablement déplacer le rôle du soignant vers des tâches beaucoup plus humaines et empathiques tout en laissant les algorithmes décider du meilleur traitement.

Ketamine – is it the new hope for depression?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

After decades of lack of innovation in the depression field, maybe patients having tried several treatment options could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ketamine is a potent analgesic used in surgery. As the compound is highly soluble in lipids, it ensures a rapid onset of the effects leading to a quick relief of depression symptoms without the typical side effects of standard antidepressants like SSRI.

However, there are some health consequences of administering that drug in the long term:

  • CNS effects: as ketamine is considered to be a cerebral vasodilator that increases cerebral blood flow, it has anticonvulsant effects. However, its use could be limited as it has also unpleasant emergence reactions such as hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and increased and distorted visual, tactile, and auditory sensitivity.
  • Cardiovascular effects: ketamine increases blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output.
  • Respiratory effects: ketamine relaxes bronchial smooth muscles and may be helpful in patients with reactive airways and in the management of patients experiencing bronchoconstriction.

The cardiovascular effects could limit its used in depressed patients with cardiovascular conditions. Furthermore, we know that ketamine is safe when used for anesthesia but we have no idea about its long-term safety. For depression, it is given every few weeks for several months.

Another point worth to mention is the lack of reimbursement: it is not covered by any health insurance today and patients have to pay out of the pocket. Depending on the dose and the healthcare provider, it could range from USD 400 to 800 in USA.

Currently, late-stage studies are ongoing with compounds closed to ketamine developed by Johnson & Johnson and Allergan in order to fill this gap and provide patients with access to a safe and effective drug.

Thinking forward about mental health, we could maybe study psychoactive drugs more in-depth in order to discover whether they could be used in a controlled setting to ease some mental disorders.

Initiatives are launched to go into this direction. The future will tell…


Additional insights:

Ketamine Stirs Up Hope—and Controversy—as a Depression Drug – Wired – 2019

Ketamine Could Be the Key to Reversing America’s Rising Suicide Rate – Bloomberg Businessweek – 2019

Can we stop suicide? – NYT – 2018

Psilocybin – A long, strange trip – Because psilocybin research has been restricted, scientists actually don’t know a lot about how it does what it does; only recently has that started to change. To begin with, its chemical structure is similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Evidence from a 2012 study suggests that psilocybin “knocks out” serotonin receptors by occupying them, which “appears to allow information to travel more freely in the brain”; two areas in which it knocks out some activity are associated with self-awareness. – Quartz – 2018

Mind molding psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses – The Conversation – 2018

The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

Benefits and Harms of Plant-Based Cannabis for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

The Ketamine Breakthrough for Suicidal Children – Scientific American – 2017

New Hope for Depression – TIME – 2017

The War on Drugs Halted Research Into the Potential Benefits of Psychedelics – Slate – 2017

Scientists and Silicon Valley want to prove psychoactive drugs are healthy – The Guardian – 2016

End the Ban on Psychoactive Drug Research – Scientific American – 2014


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100 objects that shaped public health


An amazing article posted on the website of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health details the 100 objects that changed our life, in positive or negative way.

As you will see, you could spend hours discovering those objects and, one by one, you will either discover something you ignored or confirm what you already know. But basically, each one will relate to one aspect of your health.

From Aerosol Cans to Cigarettes, from Airbag to Gin Tonic, from the Horseshoe Crab to the Hard Hat.

This article really deserve a blog post as it will really inform us on the historical background of each of those objects.


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Can U.S. Drug Prices be Justified? A U.S. vs. E.U. Comparison

Extremely insightful – a must read

Biostrategy Analytics

Regulators and payers have raised major concerns over recent spikes in drug prices. Unjustified high drug prices (see Valeant case) have triggered not only political comments from U.S. presidential candidates in the previous U.S. elections (see Hillary Clinton’s statement) but also a broader discussion on how drug prices can be regulated and whether the European drug pricing model (reference pricing) should be adopted.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between U.S. and E.U. drug prices based on the case of CNS drugs. Prices have been drawn from various sources including reported Wholesale Acquisition (WAC) prices as well as from a number of journal articles.

The following indications will be analysed: Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathic Pain and Parkinson’s Disease. These disorders account for ~50% of the global CNS market (excl. psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia anxiety or eating disorders).

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Disease Description: MS is a neurodegenerative disorder in which the insulating covers of…

View original post 393 more words

Top 15 Pharma companies – FY 2016 performance review


The 2016 earnings season is nearly over and some companies gave really excellent performance reports like Bristol-Myers Squibb with 17% organic revenue growth and AbbVie with 13.3% sales growth.

Negative performance for some players like Gilead (suffering base effect linked to a very strong 2015 performance) and AstraZeneca (struggling with a fragmented portfolio unable to drive growth).

In the PDF document (q4-2016), I computed the 2 ratios (operating margin and R&D in % of sales), I also added a column for 2017 guidance follow-up and made some comments on the results, especially the main products and whether I could see any growth driver.

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Top 15 Pharma companies – Q3 2016 performance review


The earnings season for Big Pharma is now over with Teva publication yesterday.

As usual, a table summarizes the main figures and key points from each publication. Worth noting that some companies like Gilead suffered from a basis effect after a stellar performance last year. Among top performers, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and GSK held well during the last quarter. The bottom performers were Gilead, AstraZeneca and Novartis with the last two companies experiencing negative impact from generics.


Biomimetics – How Nature can help us in solving complex problems


Biomimetics are fascinating as, very often, nature is better skilled than humans to solve complex problems. Historically, humans started to look at birds to be able to develop airplanes to fly themselves. Biomimetics applications are extremely wide, especially because of the complexity of biological systems and, also probably, for the reason that scientists have not yet uncovered all the mysteries of Nature itself.

Life sciences would strongly benefit from more Nature-inspired innovations like spider web silk used for artificial ligaments thank to their strength and robustness. Other amazing examples come from the virus world: most viruses have an outer capsule 20 to 300nm in diameter, which are remarkably robust and capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 60 °C; they are also stable across the pH range 2-10. Viral capsules can then be used to create nano device components such as nanowires, nanotubes, and nanomaterial. Last but not least, viruses (in their inactivated form) are very often used as carriers for other molecules and allow the delivery of drugs to very precise locations in the human body.

Biomimetics as innovation method is characterized by interdisciplinary information transfer from the life sciences to technical application fields aiming at increased performance, functionality and energy efficiency.

Before jumping in the library or clicking on the links shown below, have a look at the TED Talk Playlist on Biomimetics or Biomimicry. You’ll discover stunning examples and fascinating technologies.

Biomimetics is definitely a field where we need to invest more.


More to discover:


Biomimetics innovations

14 Smart Inventions Inspired by Nature: Biomimicry – Bloomberg – 2015

Life sciences

Biomimetics: forecasting the future of science, engineering, and medicine – International Journal of Nanomedicine – 2015: biomimetics-forecasting-the-future-of-science-engineering-and-medicine-2015

The state of the art in biomimetics – Bioinspiration & Biomimetics Review – 2012: 2012-bioinspirationbiomimetics-the-state-of-the-art-in-biomimetics

Nanomedicine and biomimetics: life sciences meet engineering: nanomedicine_and_biomimetics_life_sciences_meet_en_2009

Biomimetics: Design by Nature – National Geographic – 2008

Biomimetic Materials for Tissue Engineering – Advanced Drug Delivery Review – 2007


Living, breathing biomimetic meta materials – MaterialsToday – 2016

Biomimicry: Designing to Model Nature – Whole Building Design Guide – 2014

Biological materials sciences – Max Plank Institute – 2010

Biomimetic Solutions to Sticky Problems – Science – 2007


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Novel drugs for depression – The Economist


The Economist took a deep plunge into mental health research for depression. The article is extremely interesting as it seems that the scientific community understands depression a bit more than before. Despite the lack of interest from the industry, old drugs like ketamine seem to be very useful in treating that disorder. In order to patent their invention, new drugs with the same benefits as ketamine are being developed by pharmaceuticals companies.

Even if we do not yet have a complete picture, we took a step in the right direction.

Article link

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Advances in Oncology Drug Discovery – Sachs Conference Talk by Roche pRED Head of Oncology DTA, William Pao


A fascinating talk about cancer drug discovery was given by Dr. William Pao, Head of Oncology Discovery and Translational Area (DTA) at Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development (pRED) during the Sachs 16th Annual Biotech in Europe Forum.

He started to explain what is cancer, for us to gain more insights:

  • cancer is a genetic disease: tumors can harbor over 400 somatic mutations
  • cancer is heterogenous: there are more than 200 types of cancers and a single patient tumor displays intra and inter-tumoral heterogeneity
  • cancer can metastasize: once spread, it is virually incurable. Metastatic cancer survival at 5 years is extremely low (between 4 and 28%)

Based on those considerations, treatment is becoming much more complex today with a blend of chemotherapy, targeted medicines and immunotherapies. A right combination could extend survival by several months.

But how to develop drugs with increased efficacy against the smart strategies used by the disease (such as tumor angiogenesis)? According to Dr. Pao, 3 elements are necessary:

  • understanding disease biology as well as druggable targets in the complexity of cancer molecular pathways
  • developing fit-for-purpose molecules allowing to create the right drug with the right format against the right target
  • personalizing healthcare with the administration of the right drug to the right patient at the right time

Beyond a better understanding of the disease, using more than a single strategy to target the cancer:

  • Host directed with cancer immunotherapy. This approach is particularly challenging as some patients do not respond to it (innate or acquired immune escape) and other patients may fully benefit with long term survival
  • Tumor directed with targeted medicines

External innovation, collaborations and partnerships, is fully leveraged in order for Roche to complement existing capabilities in the field (immunotherapy examples: CuraDev, Pieris, BluePrint; targeted medicines: Tensha, C4Therapeutics).

As a conclusion, Roche is well positioned to address the cancer challenges and, since the beginning of innovative cancer treatments, the company has always been perceived as the leader of the therapeutic area.


Missing points in his talk were considerations of patient’s quality of life (extending life does not always go with good quality of life because of treatment’s side effects) and drug pricing (adding more and more drugs to the treatment cocktail costs a lot of financial resources, not only paid by the health insurance but also by the patient).


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DNA methyltransferase 1 has a role in the establishment and regulation of tissue-specific patterns of methylated cytosine residues. Aberrant methylation patterns are associated with certain human tumors. www.enzymlogic.com. Work done with the molecular visualization VMD program developed at the University of Illinois: www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/vmd/

Top 15 Pharma companies – Q2 2016 performance review


All the big names published their Q2 results during the summer. After spending some time on the beach, looking at their numbers is a good way to be immersed in the industry again.

During this last earnings season, performances were extremely heterogeneous. AbbVie and BMS had stellar revenue growth while AstraZeneca, Gilead and Sanofi showed poor performance for diverse reasons (explained below in the table – NB: you can click on it to make it bigger).

Comparing the Top 15 each quarter is insightful and allows me to spot pockets of growth and dynamism in the industry as well as challenges and red flags.


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E-health Day – Internet of Me: Vision and Challenges


I had the opportunity to attend the e-health day in Sierre (TechnoArk) on June 3rd 2016. The event was well organized around big players (Boston Scientific, Roche), showing their vision of the technology and its implementation in their own business model, and startups (L.I.F.E. Corporation, Karmagenes) unveiling their innovations in the field. Moreover, other stakeholders like the health insurance Groupe Mutuel and government-financed agency CIPRET presented their real-world experiences. The event was closed by a panel discussion on the relationships between eDoctors and ePatients.

Globally, the vision of health is: health care providers will be able to improve health outcomes by working with digital patients (the data collected by sensors will be integrated and analyze to provide personalized treatments and consequently better outcomes). Several projects are developed: prosthesis control, diabetes management, vital signs monitoring for elderly people…

Below I summarize the key takeaways from the most interesting talks (not all of them).


By Frédéric Briguet, EU Digital Health Engagement

  • The goal of the presentation was to provide clues on which business model is the most appropriate for digital health companies.
  • Medical technology companies create and develop products for patients but they really have to be aware of their ecosystem and the influences that will drive patients’ behavior.
    Body sensors brought revolutionary tools to life. They are wireless, responsive, use mobile devices and allow data analysis to be performed. However, what is the real impact on health and disease management? Many companies have sensors supported by solid hardware, cloud data collection and a dashboard for mobile phone.
  • Despite the evolution of technology, we are still lacking clinical studies and proofs. In addition, the user dropout rate is pretty high (after 6 to 8 months, users abandon the sensor(s) and the app). Needless to say that, on top of all the previous disadvantages, the amount of data generated is extremely heavy and it is difficult to extract the most relevant indicators to analyze them.
    However, the first digital health products helped open new perspectives and the potential of connections between all the stakeholders. Empowering and engaging healthcare providers is also one of the key benefits of the first digital health initiatives. Beyond those elements, what’s crucial to ensure adoption and reimbursement is to demonstrate the cost savings the technology could bring to the current health care settings. Doctors also have to support it and be convinced of the use and utility for their own patients.
  • All in all, the future of healthcare is expected to improve outcomes, reduce hospital readmission rate and control costs while maintaining care access.
  • The experience of the speaker allowed him to say which business models where the most appropriate to survive and thrive in that new field. He established 4 directions (that can be combined):
    1. The patient is not a consumer. Generally speaking, he is not really willing to know that he’s ill. His main focus is to live. Family and friends are the most concerned about the patient’s health and wellbeing. Creating and developing tools that could ease the burden for the supportive people around the patient is generally well received and adopted.
    2. Understand the business ecosystem. Knowing where to position the company is fundamental to avoid being stuck in a no man’s land. Focusing on lifestyle, coaching or care pathways is different and requirements increase massively for the care pathway segment.
    3. The population is ageing and increasing. The health care system will have to support an additional financial burden with the passing of the years because we know that the majority of the costs is generated toward the end of life. Hospitals are paid today according to their own efficiency (shorter hospital stays as well as improved outcomes will generate higher payments from heath insurances). It is the OPM principle (Other People Money) meaning that the patient (who consumes) is not the payer. It is then crucial to find new solutions to reduce the costs.
    4. Understanding the disease is more than fundamental. Compliance and adherence management and control in order to avoid hospital readmissions is one of the main issues of the whole healthcare system. Beyond that point, enhancing and improving the patient’s experience as well as the quality of care could well trigger new motivations for the patient to be compliant to his treatment.
  • Go beyond sensors-mobile-cloud-dashbord to include blockchain technology, augmented reality, internet of things… + any relevant technology or innovation that can bring value to the system. This value has to be demonstrated and proved as viable for the whole system.
  • The technology has to be integrated in the patient’s experience, nearly invisible, but not less complex.


By Chris Fidyk, Business Development Director Europe

  • Accelerating research and development of new treatment but also allowing patients to support each other and exchange life experience with a disease is the main goal of PatientsLikeMe. That network is maybe the smallest social network but the larger medical registry with more than 500’000 patients. Patientslikeme provides tools for patients to put their disease into context.
  • Today, there is a lot of momentum about patient centricity. It becomes more mainstream. Patients owe other patients their own experience (drugs, symptoms,…). Empowering people to express themselves about their journey in the disease. Then, when all the stories are aggregated, meanings and trends can be extracted.
  • It is also possible to see all people taking the same drug, its perceived effectiveness as well as some conversation analytics allowing to understand which symptoms are the most talked about, the treatment awareness, the barriers to access in addition to the reasons behind their treatment failure or cessation or continuation.
  • Data (experience and discussions) stay online and available even when the patient dies to enrich other patients’ lives. Regular video postings on Patientslikeme Youtube channel show patients sharing their own experience with the website and how it helps them cope with their disease.


By Horst Merkle, Diabetes Management Solutions Director

  • You can only do something with data when you can access to it.
  • Infrastructure is the foundation for innovation and creativity” – as quoted by a speaker at the Connected Health Conference.
  • How to meet the future? The lack of healthcare staff, the increase in chronic diseases and the rising healthcare costs are the challenges. How to manage them: accountability and empowerment for the patient and the consumer. Mastering your own health with less health and care services.
  • Today, technology-driven health is messy. The solutions have to be easy to use and secure for the patient.
  • The Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA) is at the forefront of health and wellness in today’s society, driving advancements in mobile and communications technologies, and the growing use of new devices, health trackers and apps by consumers and healthcare providers.
  • PCHA brings together the critical elements needed to ensure that these technologies are user-friendly, secure and can easily collect, display and relay personal health data. In PCHA’s vision for healthcare, consumers can use readily available technologies to access their personal health data, receive targeted health and wellness education, consult with healthcare providers and gain support from friends and family to improve their health.
  • PCHA focused on engaging consumers with their health via personalized health solutions designed for user-friendly connectivity (interoperability) that meet their lifestyle needs.
  • Business models are the main obstacles for interoperability to work.
  • Accu-Check Connect System from Roche provides an integrated meter, an app, and online tools for better diabetes management. The glucometer can share data in the cloud with the healthcare provider.


By Alexis Normand, Health Development Director

  • The main goal of Withings is to sell connected products to the general public. Those products can be bought in supermarkets and will help the consumer monitor vital signs such as weight, blood pressure,… Without being a doctor, the consumer can create a dashboard for his health. Changes in health are driven by him and, due to the fact that he generates data, he will be at the center of the data collection and analysis.
  • Those tools could also be used to enhance corporate wellness and engage employees through gamification. Employers will offer a connected bracelet and will organize a competition. Employers are however inherently screening employees for health issues and can analyze aggregated data to discover trends. Data around workout and physical activity are enriched by environmental and lifestyle inputs but also by stress management and absenteeism information.
  • In the e-health field, we are in the prevention area and also on new territories like personal health dashboard and employer focus on employees’ health.
  • E-health could be widely applied together with EHRs (Electronic Health Records). Linking EHRs to outcomes allow hospitals to monitor their performance to get more money from payers as they will limit the expenses for the system as a whole.
  • Withings also builds an open health data platform with the implementation of national observatories aggregating data from all the users. Those platforms will support research on connected devices with scientific publication and could stimulate partnerships and collaborations with other data sources.


By Stéphane Andematten, Marketing Leader

  • Real world business case from concept to realization in partnership with the startup Ignilife.
  • Today more than 165’000 health apps are available with 40% dedicated to medical uses and 60% to wellness.
    Regarding Switzerland, few initiatives have been developed to date. Groupe Mutuel would like to be the forerunner and not a follower in the field.
  • Ignilife is a French startup with a subsidiary in Switzerland. It is the perfect combination of entrepreneurship, medical skills and user experience. Ignilife has a previous experience with Malakoff Médéric, the leader for private health insurance in France.
  • Ignilife is a e-coaching platform based on people. It covers physical and emotional wellbeing. A first auto-evaluation is performed by the user in order to have a broad overview. An assessment is then released by the system with risk factors and advices to manage and lower their impact. Support and follow-up is provided as a selection of programs the user can choose from. He can also connect his devices.
    Close to 300 video and audio plays are available. Each time a contest or challenge is won, it is input in the platform to show the progress and evolution.
  • It is essential to develop a rich, engaging and fun platform to keep the user motivated. The goals set are reasonable and not out of reach. There is a social media component where users can exchange experience and tips. More functionalities will be developed in the next future (health at work, back health, burnout prevention,…)
    Data protection is well managed, as all the data are stored in Switzerland on independent servers.
  • Groupe Mutuel pretends it does not use data collected by user but only on an aggregated basis. The rationale behind the implementation of such a project is the focus on prevention. It will help to keep health expenses at an acceptable level in the longer term.
  • Some stats:
    25’000 Ignilife users (out of more than 1’100’000 insured people)
    Mobile users connect much more than desktop users (2x)
    91% did their auto-evaluation
    61% engaged in a coaching program
    47% changed their habits


By Stéphane Koch, Expert in Digital Experience

  • People like to measure their own weight, the calories they burnt, their heart rate,…
    There is a real value added in using quantified self.
    However, coherence is not always part of the measures and can distort statistics extracted out of the data. Sensors sometimes lose connection with the app leaving gaps or errors in measures. Improving apps with coherence system would be a big step further or even allowing the user to correct the data himself.
  • Quantified self generally has a positive impact on the user’s wellbeing but it can also generate stress if the progress takes time to emerge or if it stops. Knowing the scope of the technology as well as his body are fundamental.
  • The website DMD (in French) allows the evaluation of digital tools and the sharing of everyone’s user experience.


By Alexandre Dubuis, PhD, CIPRET Valais leader

  • CIPRET is a center for the prevention of tobacco use, recognized of public interest by authorities.
    It launched early 2016 a program to help people stop smoking via Facebook.
  • A real human adventure started and succeeded. The initiative was in 2 phases: recruitment and program on the same platform. It was completely free for the users. They just had to like the page, say they are interested and accept that all the posts written by CIPRET were the first they saw when they opened their Facebook app.
  • 3 pillars of the program:
    – Daily advices (personalized and not always linked to tobacco consumption)
    – Group support (tips and experience sharing)
    – Physical desire to smoke (will only last between 3 and 5 minutes => tips given to avoid relapse).
  • Professional support has been organized at 3 levels : the first one, community managers answer simple questions ; the second one, prevention experts take specific questions ; the third level, medical practioners take care of medical questions.
  • Some stats:
    1’500 posts created
    Support was on call during the whole week from 6am to 11pm
    13’000 messages have been answered in the first weeks
  • Key strengths: no moral scolding, always up-to-date, focus on workouts, nutrition, Sunday evening chats, real meeting groups.


By Dario Ossola, PhD, Algorithm R&D Coordinator

  • L.I.F.E stands for Live – Inspire – Free – Entertain
  • The project started at the core of The Ark and focused on predictive models for tiredness, exhaustion and strain with the development of a garment.
    That garment is equipped with sensors to monitor vital signs (it is medically accurate and there is no need of a smartphone). It allows total freedom.
    It can be the third platform of communication (with the first 2 being computers and smartphones).
  • The medical accuracy is fundamental and it can be used in medical practice but also in sports. That garment has the same results as the invasive methods to analyze vital signs. It allows real life measurements and expansive communication (data omnipresence, diverse data analysis levels).
  • Two web sites: http://x10x.com/ (for women) and http://x10y.com/ (for men)


By Séverine Petitprez, Scientific associate, Clinical pharmacology CHUV and Alevtina Dubovitskaya, Research assistant, HES-SO Valais

  • Software for personalized treatment dosage.
    Unique treatment dosage works very well for simple drugs like paracetamol. Unfortunately, for oncology or chronic diseases drugs, which are much more complex molecules, it doesn’t work as well. It can lead to toxicity, side effects or no effect at all.
  • Therapeutic follow-up normally starts with a blood sample, pharmacology experts interact and guide the doctor in order to personalize the treatment.
  • A new software (EzeCHieL) do exactly the same but in a much faster and more practical way. The software can create the patient’s drug metabolism curve based on the EHR (Electronic Health Record) and medical databases. Some genetic characteristics or co-morbidities can lead to changes in drug blood concentration.
  • Interoperability (web interface) as well as confidentiality and data security are guaranteed (pseudonymisation, anonymisation).


By Kyriakos Kokkoris, CEO

  • Karmagenes is a game combining gene profiling and psychological analysis. Integrating genetics with psychology for improved personal development.
  • What defines who you are: what you are (DNA) and where you live (environment & perception).
  • Genetics meet psychology.
  • Human centric approach
  • Could be a network of personalities and connect locally.
  • Personal guide for career development, personal motivation, and physical as well as emotional well-being.


Moderated by Sébastien Mabillard, Swiss Digital Health coordinator with 5 paticipants: Dr. Jean-Gabriel Jeannot; Dr. Pietro Scalfaro; Pierre-Mikael Legris; Christine Bienvenu; David-Zacharie Issom.

  • The market is not yet mature, a lot of opportunities are waiting to be seized.
    The patient is at the center of all motivations.
  • Despite new technologies, there is a lot to do to reach the patient. Few success stories (the CIPRET is however an excellent example).
  • What about doctors’ digital education? Patients are really driving the trend today; they stimulate doctors to be up to date and they push technology adoption.
    Patients are very often looking for information online. Doctors should be prepared and help patients to use the right web sites in order to find appropriate and correct information. Doctors should also contribute and provide content on website to populate them with correct information.
  • All that information help to start interesting conversations. Information exchange should also be facilitated. The patient could be educated to provide the appropriate amount of information to avoid overload.
  • Patient should take part and be part of medical research. The patient is the least used resource in health care. With patients’ associations, precious information is stored and exchanged. That data can be analyzed.
  • The social component is extremely important for patients. Several of them like to share their experience and find support online. They also feel useful to provide information for other that have been diagnosed recently.
  • By giving access to medical and health information, communication and interactions with doctors will be easier and improved.

Theranos – A recipe for disaster?


A lot has been said and written about Theranos. My goal in this blog post is not to reinvent the wheel but to guide the reader toward meaningful and relevant web content about this story.

Like everybody else I was fascinated by the rise of Elizabeth Holmes without questioning the technology itself. Why? First, at that time, it was not one of the company I was considering for analysis (and investment opportunity) and, second, because sometimes technical words and concepts are difficult to understand and you do not have the time to dig further.

Needless to say that my interest grew stronger when I saw that the company and its technology as well as its founder were under scrutiny… As I’m very curious I tried to understand.

My first objective was to find the timeline of the events. Interestingly, the fall started in October (2015) like the majority of stock market crashes… Autumn may be the season for distrust or maybe mistrust… (in this case for good reasons!).

Beyond what has been shown and written in the media, it is key to understand the path that led the company in this situation and the potential mistakes made so far. It seems that more experience on board could have helped and maybe avoided misdirection.

Management errors could have doomed the company but the most problematic issue may well be the reputation: not only the company’s one but also the ones of all the other diagnostic start-ups in US and Europe. Investors will be much more skeptical. On the other hand, it also shows that due diligence and analysis (not only financial but mostly technical and scientific) must be done before investing in order to limit and frame the risk.

The media obviously played a significant role in pushing, developing and supporting the hype behind Theranos. The reality of media pressure and the underlying celebrity fame are far from innocent.

Another point, which should have made us raised a red flag, is the fact that none of the big names in biotech investing took a single share of Theranos capital. Well-known investors are generally an excellent benchmark even if they are not immune to failure.

This story is really amazing and I will update this blog post each time I have relevant material to make it easy to follow the case.

So, stay tuned!


Relevant sources and articles:

The rise and fall of Theranos – A cartoon history – July 2016

Theranos Doomsday Clock – MedCityNews – February 2016

What Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes Have Always Misunderstood – INC – April 2016

Theranos debacle may scare investors away from diagnostic technology – STAT – April 2016

Theranos’ Lab Problems Go Way Deeper Than Its Secret Tech – Wired – April 2016

The secret culprit in the Theranos mess – Vanity Fair – May 2016

The Theranos Scandal Is Just The Beginning – Fast Company – May 2016

Theranos’ Voided Tests Could Make It a Magnet for Lawsuits – Wired – May 2016


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Top 15 Pharma companies – Q1 2016 performance wrap-up

Wall Street

The Q1 2016 earnings season is now over. It is always nice to take a step back and compare the big names of the pharmaceutical industry.

Below you will find the key figures published by the most important companies in the industry.


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Life Sciences Innovation Hotspot


An event has been organized in Geneva (Campus Biotech) in order to give an overview of funding opportunities in R&D in Switzerland. European as well as Swiss opportunities were explained, each time with insightful success stories and business cases.

That event combined both useful information together with relevant stories of companies having experienced the process, sometimes time-consuming but clearly worth the efforts.

Horizon 2020 was an extremely important topic during the event as Switzerland is now in a partial association framework with EC (Fact Sheet on the Status of Switzerland in Horizon 2020).

Below I summarized the key points and “take home messages” from the event in a MindMap format (much better than taking notes and reading them afterwards).

The event was organized by Inartis and BioAlps.




The potential for disruption in healthcare by Apple


A lot has been said about the role of Apple in healthcare, the disruption it could bring and the need for it. If Steve Jobs was alive today, he would surely help the healthcare industry improve.

There is a lot of work and some progress are currently being made but they are slow to implement because evolution is not always seen as such (we all know about the learning curve…).

Apple is not the only company that could bring change and improvements, even disruption, in healthcare. All the technology companies are interested in this field and they will inevitably contribute to change the landscape.

What could Apple bring?

Analyze and integrate health data

The introduction of HealthKit in June 2014 was the start of a big wave of healthcare initiatives launched by Apple. Data collected via the HealthKit through wearables like the Apple Watch can be shared with the user’s doctor in order to improve the doctor-patient relationship. Data can then be integrated in the EHRs (Electronic Health Records) of the patient in order to enlarge the data collection.

Beyond data collection stands data analysis and it’s done with the help of the partnership with IBM Watson to support this effort.

Improve EHRs and real-time medical data to broaden prevention initiatives

Merging EHR and real-time data could enable the use of predictive analytics to anticipate health issues and diseases spread.

The implementation of EHRs could simplify and quicken the collection, use and consultation of medical data, especially in the case of emergencies. This could dramatically help to avoid medical errors due to the lack of specific retrospective information.


Apple has been and is still extremely smart in building strategic partnerships. 3 main partners worth keeping in mind:

  • IBM Watson: storage and analysis of raw data on IBM Watson Health Cloud for the data collected on HealthKit and ResearchKit.
  • Mayo Clinic: access to over 1 million patients in several countries around the world using dedicated proprietary EHR and communication tools for doctor-patient interactions.
  • Epic Systems: expertise in EHR covering over 100m people in USA.

HealthKit & ResearchKit

The main goal of the HealthKit is to collect data from wearables and other connected devices to better monitor individual health. HealthKit also allows the integration of 3rd party apps and devices.

ResearchKit is an add-on to the HealthKit as it helps create apps to improve clinical trials and medical studies.

Apple Watch v. 2.0 and new wearables

The new versions of the Apple Watch could potentially be developed into more sophisticated health-tracking devices with improved heart rate monitor. Moreover, thank to non-invasive technologies, new vital signs could to be captured and analyzed more accurately.


Related sources:

Why healthcare needs a Steve Jobs-like disruptor, STAT, February 2016.

Three More Industries Apple Could Disrupt, re/code, July 2015.

Steve Jobs didn’t disrupt, he adapted. So should healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review, July 2014.

The Industries Apple Could Disrupt Next, Harvard Business Review, June 2014.


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Top 15 Pharma companies – 2015 performance


Nearly all of the companies already published their 2015 financial results. Performances varied widely and some clearly outperformed others as in any industry.

The 2015 best company is Gilead: what an amazing performance! In less than 2 years, it reached the Top 15 Pharma companies. More than USD 19 billion of sales had been generated from Harvoni and Sovaldi, both disruptive drugs against hepatitis C. 58% of 2015 sales came from those 2 products. Diversification will be the next challenge for the company.

The table below summarizes the main financial data points for 2015:


Teva has not yet published its results at the time of my post. I’ll update it later on.

*For Takeda, the company released only its 9-month results and for comparison purposes I extrapolated the 9-month into a 12-month period.

After populating the table, 2 aggregates have been computed:

  • Total sales in 2015 from Top 15 Pharma companies: USD 487 billion
  • Total R&D expenditures in 2015 from Top 15 companies: USD 82.5 billion

All in all, the big names of the industry spent close to 17% of their sales in research and development.

When we look at the 4th column in the table, year over year growth in constant currencies is between 0 and 8% apart for 2-3 companies like AbbVie (linked to the Pharmacyclics acquisition in May 2015), Bristol-Myers Squibb and Lilly.

Generally speaking, the pharmaceutical industry is still a cash-rich and good performing industry. More challenges will probably come from pricing pressures around the world (and this time not only Europe or Japan, but also from the USA).


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