June 20, 2024

Chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are on the rise the world over.

For instance, in the US, approximately 45% of people experience some type of chronic disease in their lifetime, and around 25% of the country’s population live with several long-term health conditions.1 These individuals may require multiple medications and frequent hospital visits to ensure that their treatment is effective, constituting a significant financial and time burden for already overstretched healthcare resources.

Many of those living with multiple chronic health issues may unknowingly experience negative side effects caused by the interactions among drugs prescribed for their different conditions, and a small cohort could even be taking a life-threatening combination of medications. Restricted budgets and human resources make it extremely difficult for doctors to routinely check in with their patients face-to-face, meaning that the chronically ill may have minimal direct contact with their physician over the course of the year. This can allow harmful interactions and side effects to go unnoticed for long periods of time and may cause individuals to feel less confident in their treatment, leading to low levels of trust in the healthcare system as a whole, as well as poor adherence to therapy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only about half of those suffering from a chronic disease take their medication as prescribed.2 This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as lack of perceived effectiveness, unpleasant side effects, forgetfulness, or simply running out of drugs. Non-adherence to therapy forms another major threat to healthcare providers, as it is one of the most common reasons for treatment failure.3 Subsequently, patients require additional medications and consultations – as well as extended hospitalisation in some cases – resulting in €125 billion in excess healthcare costs each year in Europe alone.4

At the forefront of the digital health revolution

For the most part, the interface between patients, prescribing entities such as doctors, and caregivers has not yet been digitalised. This makes real-time data exchange and remote therapy management virtually impossible for the vast majority of healthcare providers. Cutting-edge digital technologies have enormous potential to transform treatment management for individuals living with chronic diseases to help them take control over their wellbeing.

Digital health start-ups are proving to be the vehicles of innovation in this space, rapidly driving the digitalisation of the healthcare sector to allow efficient and cost-effective communication between patients and their care providers. Remote information exchange enables healthcare professionals to more quickly identify any possible adverse drug interactions and to collect specific structured data for more personalised care plans. The approach is supporting industry reinvention by introducing patient centricity, contributing to better therapy adherence and improved clinical outcomes.

And Basel, Switzerland, is becoming an innovative biotech hub at the forefront of the digital revolution, proving fertile ground for a variety of start-ups in the healthcare space. This is being fuelled in part by non-profit agencies, such as Basel Area Business & Innovation, which supports promising digital ventures all over Europe through its healthcare innovation initiative, DayOne.

A promising outlook

Medicine is finally heading towards a digital, data-driven future that fosters continual patient-doctor interactions and enables holistic, integrated treatment pathways for a better quality of care. But supportive hubs are crucial for new healthcare and biotech ventures. To this end, the Basel area plays host to enterprises encompassing all areas of life sciences, medicine, and pharma, and is quickly becoming one of the world’s strongest healthtech ecosystems. The region’s strategic location, access to a unique blend of experts, and culture of innovation make it an apt launchpad for start-ups looking to advance the global digital revolution, paving the way towards a more connected healthcare future.

References

  1. Tinker A. 2017. How to Improve Patient Outcomes for Chronic Diseases and Comorbidities. Health Catalyst.
  2. Sabaté E. Adherence to long-term therapies: evidence for action. Genf: Weltgesundheitsorganisation. 2003. www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/.
  3. Unger-Hunt L, Dörflinger R. Adhärenz bei Hypertonie. Journal für Hypertonie. 2017; 21(2):43-47.
  4. Khan R, Socha-Dietrich K. Investing in Medication Adherence Improves Health Outcomes and Health System Efficiency: Adherence to Medicines for Diabetes, Hypertension, and Hyperlipidaemia. Paris: OECD Publishing; (2018).
  5. Hope Care. 2023. Accessed 10th October 2023.

About the authors

Frank KumliFrank Kumli, PhD, is head of innovation and entrepreneurship and a member of the management board for Basel Area Business & Innovation. Kumli completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the Université Catholique de Louvain and was a postdoctoral fellow at Colorado State University in the US. He later received a sales management degree at the University of St Gallen and an executive MBA at the University of Rochester (US/CH). After his studies, Kumli headed up the business development efforts for health ingredients at Lonza, and was director of marketing & sales at Carbogen Amcis. Following this, he worked for Ernst & Young for 10 years in various global and local functions. Kumli has worked at Basel Area Business & Innovation since 2019.

Valentina FranciaValentina Francia, PhD, is manager of ecosystems at Basel Area Business & Innovation. Francia received her Master’s degree in molecular biology at the University of Milan, and holds a PhD in nanomedicine and pharmacology from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She has worked as a biomedical researcher in academic institutions in Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada, and is an expert in pharmacology, gene therapy, and nanotechnology. Francia has also gained extensive experience as a communication manager for pharmaceutical scientific societies, as a project accelerator for academic and industrial research networks, and as a conference organiser. She joined Basel Area Business & Innovation as manager of international markets in the international market & business affairs team in 2022.

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