Allstate, Quintiles Succeed With New IT Rulebook
Data Mining Facilitates Pharamaceutical Research
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The app attacks and crowdsourcing tool have resulted in a change of thinking by many employees on whether they can have an impact on their work environment. "Seeing that culture change has been great," said Manzella in an interview after his talk. Too often, he said, "we as leaders forget to ask the people on the frontlines how to solve the problem."
In a second talk on the new IT rulebook, Richard Thomas, CIO of Quintiles, explained how his company produced a platform that helps any biopharmaceutical partner narrow down the selection process for the most promising compound to become a new medicine.
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Quintiles has a massive database of identity-scrubbed data on 40 million patients that includes the outcomes of giving patients a particular medicine. Information culled from millions of electronic medical records gives Quintiles a database with hidden information on what might be the most promising drugs to pursue next. But someone has to query it with the right questions and follow up by investing in promising compounds.
The Quintiles Platform can be used by any company--one of its early adopters is Eli Lilly--to help design a compound that may counteract a condition or disease for a particular demographic slice of the population. One partner might be searching for the best drug to treat young men with epilepsy. Another might be looking for compounds known to have benefits (with minimal side effects) for women over 40 with diabetes. With millions of results in its database, users of the platform may design a lab test of a compound that is less of a blind shot in the dark.
"We help them trade off cost, risk, time, and predictability of success in designing a test," Thomas said.
To come up with good prospects for a laboratory test, where the compound itself will be tested, a company needs to know what the results have been for predecessor compounds in the same family with closely related chemical makeups. The question is never a simple one. Sometimes a particular compound is effective with a particular demographic--say, women over 40 living in a particular region of the world. And sometimes it's associated with bad side effects with particular population segments.
Testing compounds costs millions of dollars, and the more the sponsoring company knows about previous patient outcomes, the more likely it is to select the most promising substance for its next test. Quintiles will design software that helps a company make use of all the data, a process that has become a $40 million, custom-software business for it. And, said CIO Richard Brown, it has lead to $400 million in business engagements with users of its open platform.
Opening up the platform to many users, not just paying Quintile customers, was a big change in its business model, said Thomas, but it's paid off. What started out as a small staff of 10--six developers and four testers--has now grown to a custom software development team of 350, he said.
The result is "faster discovery of better medicines" and "better patient outcomes," he said. Under those circumstances, "We passionately believe in giving our ideas away," he added.
A third speaker on the changing IT rulebook was Lyndon Tennison, CIO at Union Pacific, which does 50 million pattern matches a day from sensors collecting data on its rail network. To read more about Union Pacific, see InformationWeek's story on Why Union Pacific Builds Its Own Tech.
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