Q&A with Ogilvy Health’s Andrew Schirmer

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Ogilvy Health CEO and Med Ad News editorial advisory board member Andrew Schirmer shares his insight regarding various topics featured in the December 2019 magazine’s Agency Roundtable forum.


Andrew Schirmer

Med Ad News: What healthcare topics would you like to see addressed by politicians on the 2020 campaign trail?

While the debate and discussion around health costs will only be heating up as we move into an election year, and the focus on pharmaceutical products will continue, I do hope we see a more holistic debate that covers all aspects of healthcare delivery, including the role of technology/telemedicine, wellness/lifestyle implications, community health, and a different service model for primary care patients. As both accountability and cost for healthcare continue to be passed down to the American consumer, the government and our industry need to seek solutions, which will improve health outcomes at the individual, community, and population levels.


Med Ad News: How are your clients and healthcare organizations using digital therapeutics and digital medicines to improve adherence/outcomes and treat patients more effectively in what is considered an area of unmet need?

Manufacturers have already been developing connected devices, which allow continuous monitoring of an individual’s health, and we anticipate the majority of implantable and chronic care devices (e.g., gene therapy) will be connected to the cloud and feeding data directly to HCPs within the next decade. Pairing these advancements with the data collected from wearables will help paint a clearer picture of a patient’s health and habits outside of what is reported during a visit.

We expect most companies to offer patients therapeutic regimens (e.g., behavioral exercises) through digital avenues. The benefits of digital therapeutics include providing easier oversight and enhanced adherence, as well as the potential to affect change in clinical outcomes over time. This data can also be fed into the EHR system in real time, allowing earlier intervention from the HCP.

There will also be a slew of digital tools available for patients managing their chronic care issues and interacting with the healthcare system (e.g., virtual AI chatbots). Data on the utilization of these services and insight into metrics, such as symptoms a patient may be asking the chatbot about, may also help identify issues earlier and help inform the physician when determining appropriate care plans.


Med Ad News: What new frontiers in data analytics are being explored and implemented to help improve clinical trial outcomes?

Many clients are already using advancements in data analytics—Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML)—for the drug discovery process by screening the increasingly large, cross-disciplinary collection of biological and chemical compounds to identify opportunity targets. In addition, AI and ML applications are being used for (and are showing improved accuracy in) predicting the likelihood of approval after phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. 

Finally, another emerging frontier receiving a lot of attention, is clinical trial recruitment and enrollment improvement. This remains one of the bigger challenge areas for clinical trials. Clients are looking to AI and Big Data to solve the patient identification challenge by matching patients to studies through the evaluation of linked datasets such as patients’ demographics and EHR/health data and then marrying these with the study and study requirements databases. AI and Big Data are also helping to solve the awareness challenge by powering systems that alert patients and HCPs to these opportunities through EHR/EMR systems.


Med Ad News: What health technology trends and developments pique your interest, which ones might shake up the marketplace?

Medical Drone Delivery for supplies, equipment, medicine, vaccines, blood, tissue samples, etc. This will be key in getting to remote areas or areas in crisis or conflict, refugee camps, or anywhere that vehicles cannot access.

Neural Interfaces: detecting electrical impulses to control digital displays, or even mechanical interfaces. Think it—and it happens. These interfaces open up incredible opportunities in physical and stroke rehab, amputation, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Ultrasound on the Go: what was once a large and expensive machine can now be an inexpensive device that connects to a smart phone, making scanning more mobile, routine, readily available, and affordable.

Movement and Voice/Sound AI: using machine learning to observe, measure, and analyze the human voice or sounds and movement to provide real-time updates on disease progression, therapeutic effects, and any issues that might need to be flagged for a caregiver’s or HCP’s attention.