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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L



There needs to be an enabling of investment, for

one. Plus there must be greater collaboration.

And, of course, with all this new technology,

education has to be stepped up.

Let us not forget that making the best use of

developments in healthcare is expensive and

difficult. There are issues in respect of

evaluation and approval at regulatory level –

which can seem to take an age – while, on

average, it takes more than €1bn to develop an

idea into a marketable, profitable product.

On top of this, it takes from 10-15 years to get

that product from bench to bedside. Valuable

time for the patient, who could be benefitting

from innovation much earlier. Regulators need

to get on top of this.

Our law and policy makers must also work

tirelessly to create an environment in which

potential investors feel confident in, among

other things, regulatory frameworks, the quality

of research, talented innovators and a growing

economy. We need these investors to put their

cash into building a healthy and wealthy

continent, now and in the future. Put simply,

better health for all means more productivity

and an increase in growth, quite aside from our

custodians’ moral and ethical obligations to

care for populations in the best way possible.

EU efforts

EU moves such as IMI and IMI2 (Innovative

Medicines Initiative) are helping this process

and involving more and more SMEs; which is

good for innovation and great for the economy.

However, despite the continuing growth of the

European Union down the decades, health and

healthcare systems – such as the UK’s National

Health Service – run their own show in what

remains a member state competence, and it is

clear that more collaboration is required to reap

the full benefits of not only Big Data, but

research and investment on a macroscale.


live in fast-changing times, with innovation

occurring all around us. Few areas are seeing this

more than the world of healthcare. Given

groundbreaking research, the emergence of so-called ‘Big Data’,

advances in gene technologies and more, these are exciting days for

medical science.

Personalised medicine is coming greatly to the fore – the ability to give

the right treatment to the right patient at the right time – while new

developments in m-health, telehealth and ‘smart’ wearables are

delivering care outside hospitals while drinking up valuable data with an

unquenchable thirst.

Big Data is without doubt a massive part of the on-going revolution in

medicine. Used effectively, this data can fuel research, investment and

thus innovation while aiding prevention as well as personalised care in

a Europe of 28 member states and over 500 million potential patients.

All of this leads to a healthier and wealthier society as patients spend

less time in expensive hospital beds and doctors’ surgeries while taking

fewer days off work through illness.

Big Data to the fore

There are other paths to innovation in healthcare to be discussed later

in this article, but taking Big Data for now, there are of course many

questions to be answered regarding the collection, storage, sharing and

ownership of such data. These questions are not only technological and

practical, but also ethical.

Yet given that, when used alongside clinical and genomic information,

data can be used to gain insights into the genesis, progression and

treatment of diseases, there has never been a better time to place new

technologies and developments at the feet of all. Any problems need to

be solved, as it is vital to create the conditions for the wide-ranging

exploitation of data for the benefit of all patients.

At least it seems that incentives for data sharing are starting to emerge

with the possibility that, for example, data co-operatives – administrating

our personal information on our behalf – will be paid, with the co-op

members deciding which areas of research their data can go to and in

which areas of R&D the money should end up.

All fantastic stuff, potentially. But to create a real environment in which,

say, data and genetically driven personalised medicine can flourish,

several conditions must be met.

Innovation in healthcare

Denis Horgan,

executive director of the European Alliance for Personalised

Medicine, reflects on the potential that personalised medicine holds for

European healthcare