“Precision medicine is going to play a key role in the future of healthcare…” – Interview with Constant Therapy’s Veera Anantha
Dr. Veera Anantha is an experienced hands-on tech entrepreneur. He has held executive positions at tech startups and Fortune 100 companies with 2 successful startup exits (Apple and Motorola). Veera has founded and launched several award winning enterprise software and consumer oriented tech products in the past decade. Veera has a PhD from Northwestern University, BS from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and holds several patents.
What are the top trends you see in Healthtech?
The biggest trends I see in Healthtech are the growing adoption of mobile/cloud- based technologies and use of big data analytics. With increasing adoption of these technologies, we see the potential for improved sharing of clinical data across the continuum of care, and greater patient engagement with their healthcare outside clinical settings. Ultimately, this will enable us to deliver precision medicine to everyone at scale, leading to lower costs and better population health.
What are the greatest challenges Healthtech firms face today?
As consumers, we greatly benefit from the mass adoption of technologies in our daily lives – from smart phones to tech-enabled services such as Uber. Yet, the benefits of such technology currently take a long time to help us in our healthcare. This disconnect – in the rate of adoption of technology by our healthcare system – is the biggest challenge facing Healthtech firms today. It also presents significant opportunities for Healthtech entrepreneurs and companies that can build solutions to solve this challenge.
Describe the role big data has had in delivering precision medicine to the field of rehabilitation therapy.
Precision medicine is going to play a key role in the future of healthcare, and we are already seeing early adoption in the areas of behavioral, cognitive and speech therapy. With the advent of mobile healthcare technologies, patients can now get their therapy anytime and anywhere. This creates significantly higher patient engagement, and greater/faster recovery than was possible before. Additionally, smart technology-enabled systems can monitor each patient’s progress in great detail, such as the exact recovery path of each individual.
As these big data-enabled systems collect more granular data and apply sophisticated machine learning techniques, they get better and more precise at recommending the right therapy regimen and dosage for each patient, so that it is tailored specifically to their needs. It is really exciting to see the first versions of these Precision medicine systems for rehabilitation gaining adoption among clinicians and patients today.
How has technology helped us move beyond a ‘one size fits all’ approach to therapy?
Every patient is different and requires a personalized therapy regimen, based on who they are, their diagnosis and the progress they are making towards their recovery goals. With the use of mobile technology and big data-driven analytics, it is now possible to micro-personalize therapy for patients. For patients it’s like having an expert clinician with them all the time – and best of all, this can be achieved at large scale with the use of technology.
Will mobile therapy herald a shift in in-clinic rehab or professional clinicians?
Clinicians play a critical role in providing therapy to patients. However studies have shown that it is equally important for patients to continue systematic therapy between clinic visits or after traditional therapy ends. With mobile solutions such as Constant Therapy, we enable patients to continue their therapy at home where they spend most of their time. In fact we have found that patients can receive five times the amount of therapy compared to before. Also, accuracy in language and cognitive exercises improved 15% in stroke patients with severe impairments by completing 100 exercises, and 40% for those completing 500 or more of the same exercises. Given the potential for faster and increased recovery, we expect that a combination of in-clinic rehab and systematic home therapy will become the new standard of care.
Any surprises from your study?
With the large amount of therapy data now available through the Constant Therapy platform, we are starting to gain new insights on how patient’s recover. For instance, we found that patients with severe language or cognitive impairments after a stroke have the potential to improve significantly. They should not be written off – in fact, just the opposite. They need more therapy and more time to recover their skills. Such insights drawn by analyzing large amounts of data can be extremely valuable for clinicians, families and patients to help set goals.
Are real-time predictive analytics the goal?
Definitely. The goal is to continue to improve predictive analytics, both in terms of making it more real-time and to make it more precise for each individual. Unlike brain games, we can achieve this with the use of advanced machine learning techniques applied to greater amounts of data in each sub-segment of the patient population.
Why is data-driven therapy only now becoming a reality? What can we expect over the next 3-5 years?
Widespread patient and clinician adoption of smartphone & tablets, advances in cloud computing and advanced machine learning have made data-driven therapy a reality. We are already seeing the significant potential of these technologies to augment traditional therapy.
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