Home > News > EHealth: Helping to Ensure the Sustainability of Health Systems. Interview with Dr. Guillermo Sanz, Co-Chair HARMONY Alliance

EHealth: Helping to Ensure the Sustainability of Health Systems. Interview with Dr. Guillermo Sanz, Co-Chair HARMONY Alliance

December 11, 2018 17:58 - x 00, 0 - 00:00

This article is originally written by Ricardo Mariscal of Congreso eSalud, Spain. 

Dr. Guillermo Sanz is Head Hematology Department at Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe, Spain. He is an expert in Precision Medicine in eHealth and made a presentation about IMI’s HARMONY Alliance Project and the development of innovative therapies and Big Data at the III Congreso Nacional de eSalud. Dr. Sanz is Co-Chair of the HARMONY Alliance. 

His presentation took take place on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. Below are some of the questions he was asked, together with his responses.

How is eHealth helping to achieve precision medicine?

"It is doing this in many ways. On the one hand, eHealth brings decision-making, care, and self-control closer to the patient and to society in general. Some examples are our use of mobile devices: Every day we are increasingly using more mobile devices that have new and powerful applications that let us know, from a distance, the health status of the patient. The massive use of personal computers also helps us to avoid unnecessary travel time and even enables us to communicate with doctors/nurses quickly and automatically. Through these devices, we can receive notifications about the appearance of any problem, complication, or adverse effect of a treatment, which allows to avoid the congestion of the emergency services of our health centers. In addition, new information technologies allow us to gather millions of clinical, analytical, genomic, food, lifestyle, geographical area, treatment, resource consumption and quality of life data into a single repository, and we can then analyze this huge data set using BigData techniques to produce health results that enable us to know which drugs are more efficient and less toxic to the individual patient in real life. In the end, eHealth will contribute to offering precise, efficient, and quality medicine while at the same time guaranteeing the sustainability of health systems, both public and private."

In your opinion, which innovative projects currently being developed using Big Data technologies stand out?

"I would highlight the projects emerging and being developed by the complex program called Big Data for Better Outcomes (BD4BO) of the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) as being especially noteworthy. IMI, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, is the largest European and global venture of its kind, because there is no equivalent in the United States of such a public-private partnership (PPP). IMI projects intend to place all the health agents related to a specific disease on the same table. Spain is fortunate to lead, on the public side, a project which is currently considered the EU's flagship health project. This partnership, called HARMONY, aims to offer quicker and more effective innovative treatments for hematological cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and others). To this end, high-quality clinical, genomic, and molecular information is collected from thousands of anonymous patients."

The largest BigData Platform

"HARMONY brings together >80 public-private organizations from 22 European countries (Partners and Associated Members), all of which have enormous experience in the following areas of research/experience related to the treatment of these diseases:  clinical, academic, patient associations, HTA (health technology assessment agencies), regulatory, economic, ethical, and pharmaceutical (eight major pharmacies). To carry out this task, the largest known BigData Platform has been created to date by HARMONY, which can be consulted, without anyone having direct access to the data, on the issues of greatest interest to each health agent."

"This project, a true example of a “win-win” project for all health agents, if successful, will become the model that will be applied to all the diseases we know, both benign and malignant, in the coming decades. As a public-private partnership, all of its decision‑making bodies are equal in status, with equal participation from the public and private sectors. Dr. Jesus Maria Hernandez-Rivas of the Biomedical Research Institute of Salamanca is HARMONY Project Coordinator and I, who am from the University and Polytechnic Hospital La Fe,  am the HARMONY Co-Chair of the Executive. In addition, the Spanish technology company GMV has been commissioned to build the BigData Platform, and we have all nominated multiple representatives from Spanish academic and hospital institutions of excellence. Although HARMONY’s work is supposed to end in five years, we are convinced that it will last forever. I believe that, as a country, we should be more than proud of this pioneering project that is at the top of the agenda of European and global Health and that is contributing both to the excellent healthcare of European citizens and to the sustainability of their health systems."

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