Digital Health:

Revolutionising healthcare for patients

At AstraZeneca R&D, the convergence of digital technologies with health is already starting to transform how we develop and deliver life-changing medicines to patients. From creating patient-centric clinical trials today to augmenting patient outcomes with digital health solutions tomorrow, our long-term vision is to reimagine healthcare with the patient at the centre.


The opportunity for digital health to radically improve human health and transform patient outcomes is incredibly exciting. We are at the forefront of this healthcare revolution, powered by scientific evidence, digital, longitudinal multiomics health data and AI.

Cristina Duran     Chief Digital Health Officer R&D, AstraZeneca

We are currently at a tipping point where we have a unique opportunity to increase and embed the use of digital health solutions to help patients achieve better health outcomes and a better healthcare experience.

Across Oncology and BioPharmaceuticals, which includes Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology, there remains a huge unmet need in treating people with a range of conditions which are often degenerative, debilitating and life-threatening.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge catalyst for change with an increased willingness by patients to use technology as part of their care and treatment regime.

Combined with hardware and device advances and improvements in software capability, new digital technologies are creating opportunities to deliver more for patients than previously thought possible.

Scaling patient-centric trials


Clinical trials are a critical part of bringing new medicines to patients. We have been working with patients to understand how to make clinical trials easier for them, from solutions to help them find trials, to being able to participate and provide data remotely from home.

In 2021, it is our ambition that 90% of our new studies will have a digital health strategy that is tailored to that trial and we are on track to meet this goal.

To help make this a reality, we are co-creating digital solutions with patients, bringing improvements to all participants – patients, healthcare professionals and our colleagues. 

One of these digital solutions is our new clinical study support platform called Unify which is already part of several of our trials around the world. Its benefits include: 

  • Data collection: Meets patients where they are, enabling remote, real-time data collection through devices and apps, reducing the need for as many in-clinic visits and in some trials, none at all
  • Accessibility: Makes it easier for patients to find, understand and join the right clinical trial for them
  • Retention: Keeps patients engaged throughout the trial

By embracing digital technologies, we are reducing the need for patients to travel to trial sites and increasing the diversity of patients that participate in our trials. Through continual data collection, we also have the potential to obtain new and faster endpoints, and in real-time, giving clinicians a better understanding of how a medication impacts the disease and its interaction with an individual’s overall health. Ultimately, this will speed up the time to develop and deliver life-changing medicines for patients.



Augmenting patient outcomes through digital health solutions



In order to improve patient health outcomes we know we have to think differently and more holistically. One way we are doing this is by combining our innovative new treatments with evidence-based digital health solutions, including digital biomarkers, digital diagnostics and digital therapeutics.

  • Digital biomarkers are digital tools, such as portables, implantables and wearables which objectively measure and evaluate patients’ biologic and pathologic processes or biologic responses to a therapeutic intervention (biomarkers). For example, we are collaborating with JanaCare to develop an at-home test for patients with chronic kidney disease to monitor serum creatinine, with the aim of making future trials more patient centric, giving decision power to patients, in the palm of their hands.
  • Digital diagnostics are software-driven connected technologies which detect or confirm the presence of a disease or condition of interest or identify individuals with a subtype of disease. It is hoped novel biomarkers based on software will help better define patients who will benefit from oncology treatments in multiple indications.
  • Digital therapeutics is where health and technology merge to augment traditional medicines. We currently have several digital therapeutics in development across our therapy areas. For example, we have designed a digital therapeutic for breast cancer that aims to monitor patients symptoms and vital signs and based on algorithms and expert rules, alert a physician as to how well the patient is doing on the treatment, to maximise both safety and outcomes

As we continue to scale our digital capabilities, it is crucial that every device and therapeutic developed is backed by rigorous scientific evidence which proves it has a direct impact on improving patient outcomes.


Reimagining healthcare for patients


Our ultimate ambition is to reimagine healthcare – harnessing innovation to transform patients’ healthcare journeys to improve earlier diagnosis, more precision treatments and proactive digital monitoring for better outcomes, powered by digital, longitudinal data and AI.

We know the diseases we aim to treat, hope to prevent and, in the future, even cure are complex. By harnessing digital health, we have the potential to drive the shift-change in healthcare that is needed to diagnose and detect disease sooner, manage risks and to help slow or potentially prevent disease onset.

For example, for asthma patients, our aim is to be able to continuously monitor symptoms and keep care teams and doctors updated, analyse individual data using AI to identify triggers, such as an asthma attack, and predict and prevent future ones. Using this approach, we hope to revolutionise how we engage with patients so they can get better control of their condition.

We are also working towards early detection for acute events such as heart attacks with the aim of allowing for quicker intervention ideally before damage is irreversible or the risk of other events increases.


We believe we can transform the delivery of healthcare from the current disease management and treatment approach to a person-centred approach that reflects the course of human health from prevention, to early detection and diagnosis, to treatment, remission and cure.

Ann Taylor Chief Medical Officer, AstraZeneca

Transforming how we work


Alongside our colleagues in IT, data science and AI, and through strategic external collaborations, we have built a connected infrastructure of digital and innovative tools to transform, streamline and optimise how we work internally. So far, our teams have built:

  • An insight platform, ‘control tower’, which uses visual analytics to guide decision-making, giving our leaders and colleagues real-time access to the status of any study at their fingertips and predictive timelines using algorithms.
  • A data and analytical  tool which optimises and automates the study design, planning and management of clinical trials to enable us to plan diverse, efficient and effective clinical studies
  • A unified clinical trial management system that is a best-in-class, cloud based, single, digitised and connected platform
  • Machine learning based adjudication for clinical event classification in cardiovascular outcome trials
  • Digital enhancements to our Clinical Supply Chain to speed up trial set up and reduce trial waste
  • A large catalogue of more than 100 devices, which have been assessed as clinically valid with positive patient experiences that support their use in clinical trials and beyond. Our evaluation has also ensured we aren’t using devices that do not deliver the required accuracy or patient experience.

As well as accelerating our pipeline, these technologies have enabled us to improve data quality, reduce some manual activities by more than 50% while also reducing study costs by more than a fifth.


The digital capabilities we are embedding across R&D are creating a seamless connectivity between people and data. By embracing innovative digital solutions, we aim to shorten clinical cycle times and deliver a much better patient experience.

Phillippa Brown Vice President, Development Operations, R&D, AstraZeneca

Driving value from novel technologies is how we define innovation, and everyone has a role to play in making an impact to patients. Working closely with our R&D colleagues, my IT team have laid strong technology foundations and established new digital capabilities to push the boundaries of science.

Sean Connolly Head of Information Technology for Drug Development and Digital Health, AstraZeneca

The people driving our digital health revolution


Meet some of the pioneers driving our digital health revolution to transform clinical trials, augment patient outcomes with ground-breaking digital solutions and reimagine healthcare for the future.



Purposeful collaborations to tackle our key priorities


Our approach to innovation and collaboration in digital health starts with unmet needs, is patient insights-focused, and science and evidence-driven. We are creating an ecosystem of strategic partnerships – from promising tech start-ups to world-leading academic groups – with 55 already in place, some of which can be explored below.


Medable

Current Health

Isla Mackenzie


Rob Horne

TriNetX


If you have an idea, invention or innovation you believe could help patients live better and longer lives, we want to hear from you. Please contact us at: digital-health@astrazeneca.com


Veeva ID: Z4-38383
Date of preparation: October 2021