How to improve patient care by accelerating the development, delivery and uptake of personalised medicine and diagnostics? (Guest blog)

At its second European congress, the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine brought together leading healthcare experts, patient advocates, politicians, policy makers and industry representatives to discuss how to to improve patient care by accelerating the development, delivery and uptake of personalised medicine and diagnostics. Located in Milan and hosted by Regione Lombardia, the 700 delegates discussed the merits, challenges and potential of personalised medicine through a range of excellent presentations, debates and discussions.
There was a strong consensus that personalised medicine can benefit patients, citizens and society, advancing patient outcomes and care and making our healthcare systems more sustainable. But the slow pace of PM development, particularly in Europe, was the subject of a number of discussions. As is often the case, the reasons are multifaceted.
EAPM’s executive director Denis Horgan said: “Personalised medicine is the test-case for how far health systems are capable of a rational and reasoned response to opportunity. It is also a test-case for how far the supporters of personalised medicine are able and willing to come together in a joint effort to drive the process that can induce constructive change. Innovation is key.”
The central role of patients was underlined by Francesco De Lorenzo from European Cancer Patient Coalition, saying that “There is no personalised medicine if there is no innovation and there is no innovation without patients” Stanimir Hasurdjiev, from PACT, underlined that access to new health innovations is a shared responsibility, saying. “Politicians must understand that there is no Europe without healthy citizens.” 
Mary Harney, former Irish health minister saying that gave the broader political perspective indicating that  “The best innovation happens when it’s widely diffused,” and  that “Healthcare systems tend to be slow at embracing innovations.” She spoke about the need to look seriously at the sustainability of healthcare, the need to rethink the business model in healthcare, inviting industry to look at other industrial sector and how they renewed themselves completely. She invited to move the debate on value, and results, moving away from a volume debate. “At the moment we’re often paying for things that don’t deliver value,” she said.
The role of healthcare data in supporting the development of PM was also discussed, with reference to the EU commission “building the bridge” for data sharing across borders, encouraging and supporting member states to adopt interoperable electronic health record systems and leading to better research and personalised healthcare.
Physicians highlighted the role of personalised medicine in improving healthcare for patients and having the potential to respond to the increasing burden of co-morbidities and enhance the sustainability of healthcare systems.
Industry representatives underlined how understanding of cancer biology has challenged traditional business models and how patient access to innovation has to be a shared responsibility of all the stakeholders involved in HC.
All delegates heard that value-based reimbursement will fuel personalized medicine and that earlier diagnostics and earlier treatment has many benefits to patients but also to budget has better diagnostics will translate in the right cure, no waste and will ease the burden on healthcare systems.
Throughout the congress many ideas and approaches were discussed, concrete case studies were shared.  There are pockets of great practice but now is the time to act collectively to create an environment in Europe that can accelerate the development and use of personalised medicine for the benefit of citizens across Europe. 

Ivana Cattaneo

Ivana Cattaneo is Vice-Chair of the EFPIA Oncology Platform. She works as Public Affairs Director Oncology Europe...
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