Personalized Medicine And Big Data: Opportunities And Pitfalls Of IT Innovation

Greg McStravick

In the second of a three-part series on how technology is transforming healthcare, Greg McStravick, GM and Global Head, SAP Platform GTM, takes a look at the explosion of data and its impact on healthcare. With routine sequencing of the human genome, biometric data from wearables and connected devices, and the Internet of Things – all this data must be pulled together, analyzed, and reported on so that insights are delivered to the right person at the point of decision. Find out more about technology and healthcare challenges and opportunities in parts one and three.

  • Part 1: Personalized Medicine: Real Opportunities – And Real Challenges For Doctors
  • Part 3: The Risks, Challenges – And Rewards – Of Ensuring Medical Data Privacy

The data explosion

It’s impossible to talk about personalized medicine without recognizing how deeply integrated it is with Big Data. With routine sequencing of the human genome, the technology demands of biomedical research and analysis have skyrocketed. Each genome consists of billions of pieces of DNA code, each piece with attached biological data; the data load is measured in terabytes for a single human genome. And as the cost and time required for sequencing drops dramatically, more and more genomic data is becoming available.

Add to the DNA data stockpile massive amounts of biometric data coming from wearables and connected devices, such as activity trackers, smart clothing, and intelligent interactive sensors. The Internet of Things will soon expand to include the Internet of Patients, with continuous collection of instantaneous biometric health readings. With data storage costs still dropping dramatically, the ability to both acquire and store this data is becoming less expensive, and more reliable. The real challenge: turning this massive data store into insight – and action.

From insight to action

For someone with asthma, for example, personalized medicine might involve monitoring local air quality conditions, then comparing that information as it comes in with health data from a wearable device. The goal: to generate real-time alerts or recommendations able to prevent asthma attacks and, over time, improve the wearer’s level of health. How can all this data – from public and private sources, local and cloud origins – be pulled together, analyzed, and reported on so that insights are delivered to the right person at the point of decision?

Data analysis plus process efficiency

Even with specialized pharmaceutical R&D processes and tools, it can be difficult for individual researchers to access all of the data they need to drive decisions. For example, with specific cancer research, very small patient volumes require researchers to work with other institutions to generate significant statistical value.

Learn More About SAP Foundation for Health and Personalized Medicine

SAP is passionate about creating transformative technology that can advance healthcare. The SAP Foundation for Health includes a sophisticated platform and advanced analytic solutions that can help unlock the value of biomedical data – from genomes to electronic medical records to clinical trials. Supporting deeper insights and enabling collaboration, SAP Foundation for Health helps connect data silos and bring together mission-critical biomedical data, advancing personalized medicine to new levels.

Visit SAP at #HIMSS16 Booth #5828 February 29-March 4 to learn more, or continue the discussion on Twitter @SAP_Healthcare.


Greg McStravick

About Greg McStravick

Greg McStravick is the president of Database and Data Management at SAP, leading development and go-to-market teams for SAP’s core digital innovation platform, SAP HANA, and databases (including SAP ASE and SAP IQ), enterprise information management, middleware, and SAP Vora. Formerly, Greg led the go-to-market teams and strategy for some of SAP’s largest and fastest-growing businesses, including the SAP HANA platform, analytics, database, and SAP Cloud Platform. With more than 20 years of progressive experience as a leader in technology solution sales management and strategy, Greg has held senior leadership positions throughout SAP, including president (U.S.), where he was responsible for driving customer success and developing new opportunities for SAP to expand its business across the entire U.S. region.