Diagnosis, Treatment, and Adherence
There are many factors necessary for an individual to be able to thrive with a serious medical diagnosis. First, they must receive the correct diagnosis so that they can be prescribed the most efficacious treatment. Second, patients must adhere to the treatment they are prescribed in order to ensure they are provided the best results.
Researchers in the rare disease space have been working to improve both of these steps in the process. A big part of these improvements revolve around the use of artificial intelligence (AI), implementing new technological innovations into the healthcare field.
Amgen is excited about the prospect of AI, but worried about the speed of its dissemination. The thing is, there are patients who need help now. Not everyone can afford to wait for new developments. This is especially true for the rare disease population and for those who are experiencing illnesses associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and other conditions.
Amgen is trying to accelerate the use of technology in the medical field. They are developing tools to help assess risk of serious and rare diseases before they manifest. To accomplish this goal they are partnering with data science organizations and medical research teams.
However, it’s not just about identifying risk. It is also about treating individuals who already have a diagnosis. One issue that occurs even for patients who have been provided the proper diagnosis is non-adherence. For many patients, it is not that they are deliberately not following the directions of their doctor, they simply forget.
So, Amgen is creating devices that can help remind patients to take their medication. Preliminary studies using these devices have shown that patients find them easy to use. They also say that they fit seamlessly into their daily routines, which is encouraging. If the device is not seen as an additional burden it will likely be utilized, improving patient outcomes.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an example of an illness which is often not properly diagnosed.
FH causes high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Many FH patients don’t receive the correct diagnosis. As a result, they don’t receive the treatment they need. It is estimated that 90% of individuals who have FH have not been diagnosed. That percentage is absurd.
FH can lead to health issues typically associated with aging. For instance, when FH is left untreated, patients have a 20 times greater risk than the average person for having a heart attack. 85% of men with the condition will have a heart attack by the time they are 60 and women may have heart attacks beginning in their 50s.
So what was Amgen’s solution? They created an online clinical diagnostic tool which assigns patients an FH score. It utilizes the Dutch Lipid Clinic Network criteria which is standard for the disease. This technology helps to identify patients who are at risk for FH. By identifying risk before cardiovascular events take place, patients will have much better outcomes. Currently, this tool is being used across the world in 11 different countries.
Amgen knows they still have a lot of work to do, but they say that they are energized by their progress thus far and are excited to see what other benefits they may be able to bring to patients.
You can read more about Amgen’s work here.