Year in Review: Driving precision health strategies forward

Morgan is enrolling in a clinical trial for a rare neuromuscular disease. They learn that they will participate in a series of on-site clinic visits for labs and imaging, and they will be supplied with a comfortable wrist-worn technology that will monitor their gait throughout the day. Every week, Morgan will also be asked to record how they are feeling via an electronic survey.

Altogether, these multiple modalities and measurement types will help researchers more comprehensively understand whether or not a new drug in development will maintain a high quality of life for patients while slowing down disease progression.

The scenario above illustrates several of the major strategy shifts we’ve seen in the pharmaceutical industry in 2023. Trials today are embracing multiple data capture methods while maintaining a focus on the patient voice and vetted technologies in an effort to make trials more inclusive, more efficient, and more accurate.

HumanFirst has been speaking, collaborating, and building with top pharma throughout the year to help them develop better drugs, faster, for patients. Here are a few observation from this year.

AI transformed the tech world in 2023, but that doesn’t mean it’s new to the scene

The promise of AI is enormous: new insights into molecules and drug targets, advances in cohort selection and screening, operational efficiencies, and more. For patients, AI could mean high quality treatments that address the most meaningful health outcomes get to the market quicker.

Pharma companies are going “all in” on AI to accelerate drug development. The good news: AI has been around for a while, and pharma doesn’t have to take big risks on hypergrowth companies to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Digital biomarkers have been leveraging AI and ML to train their systems for years, and they represent a tried-and-true pathway to investing in, and seeing value from, AI.

Researchers can leverage AI and ML by incorporating digital health technologies into their research, which take advantage of machine learning algorithms to collect and process data. Image from

The world of precision just got a whole lot broader, and it all starts with the measures that matter

Precision medicine has often been a term associated with cancer research. Scientists have leveraged advances in genetic testing to identify treatments for cancer patients on an individual level. Now, we’re starting to see an exciting trend towards precision health — the idea that all patients can benefit from technology innovations to prevent illness, treat disease, and even foster wellness, unique to their needs.

One way to bring the promise of precision health to all humans is through precision measurement. Effective trials start with the right measures — those that matter the most to the patient’s quality of life. HumanFirst has been building on its robust data map of 15,000+ measures to allow researchers to more effectively include the patient voice in their trials and find both the right measure and the right technology for patient-centric, efficient protocol designs.

New frameworks allow for a measures-first, technology-second approach to study design, ensuring researchers are measuring what matters most to patients. Figure from An Aligned Framework of Actively-collected and Passively-monitored Clinical Outcome Assessments (COAs) for Measure Selection.

Streamlining workflows means teams have the right resources at the right time

We’ve heard time and again that pharma companies must be more operationally efficient to keep costs down and speed up drug development. Departments need to share information, collaborate on workflows, and leverage the same insights to move quickly and effectively while priorities shift and costs are cut. The HumanFirst Atlas Platform’s configurability and security allow pharma partners to leverage precision health insights wherever they need it in their workstreams while maintaining rigorous audit and data governance standards. Cutting down on time spent conducting redundant tasks and reviews can have a real impact on the time it takes for drugs to be developed and treatments to become available.

As we look towards 2024, we’re excited to continue to thoughtfully innovate with our pharma teams. If you’re a pharma company, we would love to hear what you are looking forward to achieving in the new year! Contact HumanFirst at [email protected].