The Future of Healthcare
Healthcare systems are facing tough decisions. Populations are ageing, chronic diseases are increasing and public finances are becoming more constrained. In Europe alone, every day more than 4 billion euros are spent on healthcare, a large proportion on drugs that ultimately only help a very small fraction of the patients receiving them. Millions of people worldwide are taking drugs that are just not effective, with potentially fatal consequences. Each year in Europe, close to 200,000 people die of adverse drug reactions, a situation which is just not good enough, medically, socially or economically. Above and beyond the individual suffering families are experiencing, the economic sustainability of our healthcare systems is being threatened, with national healthcare expenditures typically rising 2% faster per year than gross national product. This situation, already bad, is going to get worse. Populations are also shrinking in many European countries. Our healthcare systems therefore not only need to deal with our increasing longevity, and the associated burden of chronic and degenerative diseases, but also identify ways in which citizens stay healthy, active and productive for longer.In our view these challenges can ultimately only be solved by a true personalization of healthcare, based on much better predictions of likely effects – and side effects – of therapies and prevention strategies on specific patients, using ‘virtual patient’ (computer) models. We see the future of healthcare being one in which deep-omics and sensor-based truly personalized medicine will be part of routine healthcare and prevention. Treatment and prevention strategies will be first optimized on the computer, using a ‘virtual twin’, which can be treated at (almost) no cost and suffering no ill effects of therapies.
To push these developments forward, and building upon our long-standing experience in this domain, Alacris Theranostics is part of a new bid for an EU Flagship project – multi-disciplinary large-scale projects supported by 1 billion euros over 10 years – called ‘Future Health’ (www.futurehealtheurope.eu), with the goal of developing truly personalized healthcare and prevention on the basis of the ‘virtual patient’ strategy. Future Health presents a vision of a truly individualized healthcare and disease prevention system, based on a detailed characterization of the patient/individual (e.g. clinical, molecular, imaging and sensor based analysis), and their wellness, health and disease course. A vision that will trigger a paradigm change in healthcare by exploiting the most advanced omics, sensing, computing and communication technologies to enable truly personalized and preventive medicine.
The project, coordinated and developed by Hans Lehrach (one of the founders of Alacris Theranostics), in collaboration with Adrian Ionescu (EPFL, Switzerland) and Nora Benhabiles (CEA, France), has been voted as having highest priority by a ‘round table’ of national representatives and large European organizations (see editorial in the Nature journal), and will now enter a competitive selection process.
For further information see www.futurehealtheurope.eu