Meeting Highlights: DIA Global Annual Meeting 2022
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The Future of Healthcare Is…
Inclusive, Global, Individual, Digital

n Association executive, two regulators, two professors, a patient advocate, a patient, and a graphic artist walked into a packed congress hall. Inspiration ensued.

The DIA Global Annual Meeting 2022 celebrated DIA’s first post-pandemic global in-person meeting. Convened in Chicago (IL) under the theme Collaborate to Innovate, the opening plenary set the tone for the week and explored the question What is the Future of Healthcare? from four connected perspectives—Inclusive, Global, Individual, Digital—that were documented in real time by graphic artist Alison Vellas (Ink Factory).
We’re here this week because we imagine a world where powerful health interventions and tools are rapidly discovered, developed, approved, and made accessible to all.

The world’s changed. It places much greater demands on young people. They’re living in a more networked world marked by enormous amounts of information and knowledge, but also heightened risks, lower social mobility, and greater inequality. It’s well known that many young people are surprisingly unhealthy. Their health issues result from lack of food access, risky behaviors, and heightened psychological vulnerability. The result is obvious: increased incidence of diseases like obesity, diabetes, mental health disorders, and substance abuse disorders, just to name a few. New approaches are being developed to address some of these difficulties and to understand the root causes.

Barbara Lopez Kunz
Barbara Lopez Kunz
Global Chief Executive
How can we play a role in guiding the future trajectory of health by addressing globalization of therapeutic development? How can we truly integrate patient-centricity and inclusivity into our work? What are the lasting benefits of artificial intelligence and digitization of healthcare? I am confident that we’ll all walk away from this meeting with new understandings and insights, and more clarity on the roles that we can all play in improving the future.
Robert Califf
Robert Califf
Honorary Co-Chair
To address the increasingly complex scientific and medical challenges we face, it’s essential that we continue to expand the sources, quality, and types of data that we use to analyze these issues, as well as the means we employ to prospectively plan for gathering the right data in the right context, ingesting the data, and applying the right study designs and analysis methods to derive knowledge from this information.

The effective use of digital tools can also play an essential role in strengthening collaborative efforts that are needed among regulators from different countries in addressing some of the global challenges we’re facing. We need a much more comprehensive set of reliable evidence than currently available. The failure to share data in a transparent fashion is a major factor holding us back. As you attend the meeting and think about how to improve our system, I hope you’ll consider how effective we could be if we revamped the foundational system for sharing data.

Most of us can agree that the drug development enterprise is well on its way to realizing a future of healthcare centered on the individual patient. A future where therapeutic innovation and healthcare delivery are highly customized, informed by patients’ needs and rich health and medical data, enabling more accurate diagnoses, earlier prediction and detection of disease, individually tailored treatment planning, more timely administration of interventions to maximize individual response, and more targeted, effective, and safer medical therapies.

Precision or personalized medicine is based on deep understanding of the molecular basis—the genetic and biologic underpinnings—and the social determinants of disease. With support from large databases, informatics, technologies, and advanced analytics, we’re able to target highly stratified patient subpopulations—eventually at the individual patient level.

Kenneth Getz
Kenneth Getz
Executive Director and Professor
Tufts CSDD
The closer we move to serving each individual patient, the more people, infrastructure, collaborators, vendors, oversight, technology platforms, and solutions that must be engaged, deployed, coordinated, and integrated. We cannot continue to use 20th century drug development operating models, cultures, and mindsets to optimize the value of 21st century solutions. We have observed outliers and case examples that have delivered distinct improvements: patient and community-engaged development planning; flexible and focused protocol designs; targeted resource allocation and vendor selection; frequent communication; broad and open collaboration and data sharing.

Lessons from our pandemic experience demonstrate a path toward realizing a future where each study volunteer participates in the right trial and where each individual patient receives the right treatment, in the right dose, at the right time.

Miruna Sasu
Miruna Sasu
President and CEO
It’s widely known that there are healthcare disparities in the United States based on race, gender, and socioeconomic status. We know that in the US, clinical trial participants are whiter, wealthier, and healthier than patients in the real world. In 2020, 75% of clinical trial participants in the US were white.

Why does it matter? It matters because black men have twice the risk of white men of being diagnosed with advanced-stage prostate cancer. It matters because black people are more likely to develop multiple myeloma and die from it. Research shows that the overall rate of cancer screening is lower among black, Hispanic, and Asian populations compared to their white counterparts. People of color are also more likely to receive later stage diagnoses than white people. And they’re also more likely to be uninsured.

I fight every day to help make the future of healthcare inclusive. And that starts with us. It starts with you. It starts with me. No matter what role you’re in, what company you work for, we have to think about the vendors, the technologists, the scientists, the doctors, coming together to solve the problem. Let’s create the data. Let’s use the data responsibly, to analyze and remove these burdens for our patients—for ourselves.

Ultimately, at some time, we’re all going to be a patient. So I ask you today to help me fight. Come along with me to bring the right care path to every patient, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and any other disparities that exist. Let us fight together.

Future of Healthcare
When we regulators do things together, we can do so much more globally for better patient outcomes. We’ve shown we can do things differently. We’ve shown that we can be more innovative. Now our challenge is to translate some of these learnings into innovation in our daily business, using these opportunities to support the development of products that better meet patients, locally and globally.

The future of global healthcare is all about innovation that knows no limits, knows no borders, and pushes new frontiers. As regulators, how do we contribute to this brave new world? Let me focus on three areas: translating artificial intelligence into real tools that make a difference in how clinical trials are performed, how endpoints are designed, and how we get patient feedback; using real-world evidence to meet their needs; and using digitalization not only to enable patient-centricity but to also future-proof our own operational infrastructure capability and security.

Emer Cooke
Emer Cooke
Executive Director
European Medicines Agency
The availability of timely and reliable real-world evidence can lead to innovative medicines becoming available to patients much more quickly, and it can help us make better regulatory decisions. We can use machine learning to help us analyze signals to pick up patterns much more quickly and in adverse drug reactions. And all of this work we must do at a global level so that patients worldwide can benefit.
Cynthia Verst
Cynthia L. Verst
Chair of DIA Board
Chair of Executive Committee
DIA’s role is to bring healthcare ecosystem stakeholders together to accelerate innovation and to reimagine the healthcare of tomorrow. It’s up to us to shape this future of healthcare. Part of patients as partners and at the heart of everything we do is representativeness and how crucial that is within our healthcare industry: understanding the epidemiology of disease states, understanding which patient cohorts ultimately derive the best benefits and the most acceptable safety profiles. In addition to inclusivity: our need to be very cognizant of all the healthcare implications and disparities around the globe and the importance of global reality. I’d like to thank regulatory authorities around the globe for tremendous hard work over this pandemic. So, we’ve come full circle with future of health care: We’ve talked about inclusivity. We’ve talked about global reality. We talked about patient centricity. And this brought us back full circle to the very center of healthcare and that is, of course, our patients.
I grew up with congenital cataracts that were passed down from my mother and my grandmother. My mother wanted us to be able to do things just like everyone else, so she took the risk of taking me and my sister to have the cataracts removed. My sister’s result ended really well for her back then. Unfortunately, for me, it did not. I lost all of my vision in my right eye.

Mother made the tough decision of sending us downstate to a school that basically taught people like ourselves about our visual impairments, about things that we can do to enrich our lives, to help prepare us for the future of dealing with our disability.

Back then the technology was just not there yet, and it was hard. But at that point in my life, I knew something was changing. Not only did they teach us about reading and writing and arithmetic, but they also taught us how to deal with our disabilities, how to adjust, how to find resources, even though it was hard back then. They taught us things like using adaptive equipment for computers; there was hardware and software that would enlarge the screens for us.

Andre Asbury
Andre Asbury
Patient Representative
The Chicago Lighthouse
Technology today is so much broader, so much more inclusive. We have a cornucopia of adaptive technology that can be used not only in my personal life, but also in my work life, and this same technology can be applied to medical research. Apply this technology for somebody sitting at home and have a doctor reach them remotely and give them an eye exam, all in the comforts of their home. The technology is out there. What we have to do is not be afraid of the technology, not be afraid of your clinical trials and your researchers. Incorporate people like me, the thousands upon thousands of people who are willing to do a clinical trial, some who have never been asked.

Continue to be inclusive with your studies. With everything you do, be more inclusive to people like myself who just happen to be visually impaired or disabled. Include us in your studies. Look at all the faces, the beautiful colors of people here, through your offices, through your workplace. Look and include people like me, so that we can continue to build your technology, your research, your knowledge together as one. We can do that. All of us.

Stephanie Crawford
Stephanie Crawford
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Honorary Co-Chair
We bring in different areas of expertise, and we’re all coming together. When you leave this week, think of how your bucket fits with initiatives that effect positive change. Today, we celebrate that DIA brings together the biopharmaceutical industries, health regulatory authorities, academia, and others. Importantly, we listen to the patient voice as we partner in our efforts with patient organizations. Innovation through collaboration provides an opportunity to think about and celebrate how we tackle these challenges together. There is an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We may be coming from different angles, but what’s common to all of us is stated on the homepage for DIA: “DIA members come together to collaborate and problem solve, discussing global and local challenges facing the life sciences field in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. DIA’s goal is for this collaboration to result in better policies, regulations, science, research and development, and ultimately, patient outcomes worldwide.” DIA 2022 is one of the ways we have come together.