Healthcare solutions of the future: Boehringer Ingelheim relies on digitalization

Digitalization is changing the healthcare system: Digital technologies are opening up new opportunities in the development of innovative medications and the healthcare solutions of tomorrow. Boehringer Ingelheim uses innovative digital technologies along the entire pharmaceutical value chain with the primary goal of creating true added value for the health of humans and animals.

Healthcare solutions of the future: Boehringer Ingelheim relies on digitalization
Michael Schmelmer presented some of Boehringer Ingelheim's digital health projects at this year's re:publica, the world's most important digital conference in Berlin.

A wide range of initiatives for developing innovative technologies

We are using artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, and many other digital technologies in order to accelerate the development of medications now and to improve the prevention and early detection of illnesses in the future.”

Michael Schmelmer, member of the Boehringer Ingelheim Board of Managing Directors

This is evident in a wide variety of initiatives in the field of digital healthcare solutions that Boehringer Ingelheim is pursuing in collaboration with startups and other drivers of innovation. In this way, the family-owned company is selectively supplementing its in-house expertise with external collaborations in research and development, production, and patient care.

Digital health at the re:publica digital conference

Under the heading “Digital Transformation – Opportunities for Tomorrow’s Health,” Michael Schmelmer presented some of Boehringer Ingelheim digital health projects to an attentive audience at re:publica, one of the world’s premier digital conferences, which this year was held in Berlin. He emphasized that Germany currently has a great need for specialists in this field: “As a result of the rapid digital transformation, we increasingly need digital experts, physicians, and pharmacists who want to contribute their know-how at the interface of digital technology and medicine,” said Schmelmer.

In pharmaceutical research, for example, the smart research assistant ADAM is already making use of learning algorithms to investigate new medications: “Artificial intelligence lets us work almost twice as fast to identify molecular compounds for potential new drug substances. Medications can then be developed from them more quickly in the course of further research,” Schmelmer explains. This innovative technology thereby creates genuine added value for health: “Most of all, it benefits patients around the world allowing them to receive even better care because it saves time, and increases quality and knowledge.”

Innovative technologies are also being used and steadily developed in the compilation of clinical study data. In what are known as remote studies, digital analysis tools can already be used to recruit and monitor study participants regardless of their location, compiling and evaluating their data in real time. This considerably reduces the time between research and application. “This is of particular benefit in the case of rare diseases, because study participants do not need to travel long distances to the study laboratory, for example. Using digital applications, we bring the study to the patient,” says Schmelmer.

Analytical algorithms in audio tools can lead to advances in the earlier diagnosis of diseases in humans and animals. SoundTalks, an audio monitoring system for the early detection of respiratory diseases, is currently being tested in livestock farming. In humans as well, faster treatment can slow or even halt the progression of a disease – which is essential, particularly for central nervous system disorders. Intelligent speech recognition software – via smartphone, for example – will be able to analyze speech patterns, recognize risks, and thereby contribute to a reliable diagnosis and effective therapy.

The conditions must be right

The successful implementation of Digital Health crucially depends on the right framework conditions. Michael Schmelmer emphasized this in his presentation: “In the future, the possibilities for digital healthcare solutions will expand even further. This requires qualified specialists, a sustainable digital infrastructure that includes comprehensive internet access, and a legally watertight and practicable method for collecting data.”

Boehringer Ingelheim

Improving the health of humans and animals is the goal of the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. The focus in doing so is on diseases for which no satisfactory treatment option exists to date. The company therefore concentrates on developing innovative therapies that can extend patients’ lives. In animal health, Boehringer Ingelheim stands for advanced prevention.

Family-owned since it was established in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 20 companies. Some 50,000 employees create value through innovation daily for the three business areas human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceuticals. In 2018, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around 17.5 billion euros. R&D expenditure of almost
3.2 billion euros, corresponded to 18.1 per cent of net sales.

As a family-owned company, Boehringer Ingelheim plans in generations and focuses on long-term success. The company therefore aims at organic growth from its own resources with simultaneous openness to partnerships and strategic alliances in research. In everything it does, Boehringer Ingelheim naturally adopts responsibility towards mankind and the environment.

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