Technology

‘Human data science is a necessity in Nigeria’s healthcare system’

by JUMOKE AKIYODE-LAWANSON

February 27, 2018 | 1:02 am
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Remi Adeseun is Country Manager, West Africa, IQVIA in General. IQVIA, formerly Quintiles IMS, is a Human Data Science Company and the world’s leading healthcare information, technology and services company providing much needed solutions to the life sciences sector, including healthcare professionals. In this interview with JUMOKE AKIYODE-LAWANSON, he speaks about the recent launch of IQVIA’s digital healthcare platform, HCPSpace, the use of technology and data in strengthening the nation’s health systems and other issues. Excerpt.

Tell us about IQVIA, and why it decided to enter the Nigerian market considering that human data science, information management systems haven’t really caught on well in these parts.

IQVIA is the synergistic product of the merger between Quintiles and IMS Health in 2016.We decided to come up with a unique name that abstractly reflects the two companies but more importantly to assure the healthcare community that the company existed to help them solve their various industry needs via human data science. Human data science is a relatively new category that we have brought to life and it draws on our strengths in the life sciences plus decades of deep technical and analytical data capabilities. As a result, IQVIA is today the world’s leading company in the area of human data science. Currently a gap exists. In the world that we live in today, evidence is what drives informed decisions and evidence is not something that happens by chance. It is something that has to be planned for – design data collection strategies, identify the transaction and collection points, and partner with a wide range of people who are data suppliers. The information you get from that is processed and becomes useful as a feedback report to various stakeholders including the suppliers mainly manufacturers, importers and their distributors. IQVIA through the data and analytics information assets that we’ve developed around the world, (which we are currently working to develop in Nigeria), can be a ready source of that informed decision-making process. This would enable government to take evidence-based decisions that would help fast track development and prevent policy flip-flops and medicine-after-death approaches to issues.

From a tech standpoint, how do you intend to break the barriers of use, such as poor internet/network connection that might prevent a widespread adoption?

One of the biggest barriers of use is portability. Research tells us that many people engage online through their hand-held devices. So HCPSpace has been optimised and designed specifically for mobile. There are quite a number of other platforms that are for healthcare professionals which are just web-based, desktop things that you can only access on a desktop or laptop, without an app form. HCP Space is available as an app and also has the web interface. It is not one that squeezes itself from the desktop version to try and fit on your phone. It is designed specifically for the phone and it is available on the IOS for Apple users and the Android for all the other smart phone users. A lot of thought went into it and it is also been managed technically with great collaboration. We have an advisory board that has brilliant, very well respected key opinion leaders, from medical practitioners, pharmacists to other health professionals including Nursing and Laboratory Science. The chair of the board is a mental health specialist, Femi Olugbile, a former Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health and Founding Chief Medical Director of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.

Why should healthcare companies and providers care about leveraging digital tools – big data, transformative technology and analytics?

The biggest film and camera company back in the day was Kodak; they had all the resources in the world. When digital came into its space, they did not seem to care and carried on business as usual. We all know that, eventually became obsolete and extinct. Change is constant and it is important for everyone because digital is a transformative change that if you do not join, you will be left behind. We are trying to pass that message across as others are doing and using those positive examples of those who have embraced change in the technology space for health, making health outcomes better. It is a continuous thing; government itself has to be involved in, advocacy groups because when it catches on well, there are efficiency gains, effectiveness gain and an overall development plus economic value created. Jobs will be created as a result of digital, transferable skills that can be deployed in other areas and just a general uplifting of the wellbeing in both the health and the economy of the population.

Why aren’t we seeing an increase in the adoption of mobile health apps and wearable sensors in Nigeria?

I will say that is a relative statement. I currently have a wearable sensor on, a Fitbit wrist-watch. It’s wearable technology and the information that it is syncing with my smart phone and computer system tells me my activity level. So a person with a blood pressure condition wearing such Fitbit wrist-watch can provide his/her physician with information to plan the patient’s treatment. Take that on multiple scales, take the weighing systems, there are so many ways that has brought a nexus between personalized technology, consumer health technology and their apps. You have apps that describe the type of exercise suitable for you when you put in your health profile, put in your health goals, diet goals, nutrition and so on. What we plan in the IQVIA HCPSpace is to have doctors informed about the various health apps available in such a way that in addition to the ability to prescribe medicine they also become able to prescribe apps. We want to provide HCPs with opportunities, webinars, introduction, guidance and transform their mind to say the patient is your total object; you need to help him live a healthier life and you should avail yourself of all the information that our technology can support you with. It is not just medicines, or physical therapy, it’s also your knowledge of the apps that you can prescribe. We are going to have something on the platform to help them do that.

You can be considered as one of the key thought leaders in the area of pharmaceutical sales and marketing in the country, what new challenge drove you to IQVIA?

The highest levels of professional recognition in the nation’s pharma industry are the Fellowship of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria which by God’s grace was conferred on me in 2012 as well as Fellowship of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy. However, my involvement in the health space is beyond pharma and that is what has brought me to IQVIA. I have been in pharma all my life essentially, started as a medical representative with Sandoz, then operating as Swissco Nig Ltd, under the Jagal Group in 1989, with my first tour of duty in pharma ending in 2005 as Country Manager for Janssen Cilag, a Johnson&Johnson company after spending sixteen years exclusively in pharma. In the last twelve years, I have gone on to do other things in the health space including a medical technology start-up, Rodot representing a foremost German dialysis equipment manufacturer, from which I am on a sabbatical. IQVIA has been successful over the last six decades, working with companies in the R&D space as well as doctors, pharmacists, nurses and the other healthcare professionals who use the pharmaceutical products. In the commercial space we are able we help in putting together the data which is the gold standard where countries are able to tell the patterns of usage of the various pharmaceuticals items in the world within various therapeutic classes in what is known as the National Pharma Audit. This system allows an executive in a Global Pharma company to sit at his desk in Switzerland and have access to information on how well his products are doing across over 100 countries. This is the kind of scale and breadth of practice that IQVIA brings. A nationalistic passion of mine has been to contribute to remove the stigma of Nigeria being high on the ignominious list of countries that don’t have reliable data. I have always thus been inclined to work with other like-minded people to get Nigeria into the comity of nations with good and reliable data. IQVIA’s core strength plays in this space and so I welcomed the challenge when the regional leadership of the company reached out to me to help lead the charge in West Africa.

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by JUMOKE AKIYODE-LAWANSON

February 27, 2018 | 1:02 am
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