Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, affecting up to 24 million adults. The lung disease cost the healthcare system $32.1 billion in 2010 and is estimated to increase to $49 billion by 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COPD complications also contribute to 16.4 million lost work days, and $36 billion in lost productivity.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., one of the leading pharmaceutical companies that focuses on respiratory diseases, saw those staggering statistics as an opportunity to bring its expertise to a market that needed assistance with lowering COPD complications.
“With the market changes we are all facing, we as a pharmaceutical company wanted to be a more meaningful player in the industry. We wanted to change how we develop our products, and we realized the best way to figure that out is to talk to the people who are actually providing care,” says Ruchin Kansal, executive director and head of Business Innovation at Boehringer Ingelheim. A five-year partnership that initially focuses on COPD between Boehringer Ingelheim and Sutter Health, a California-based nonprofit health system that serves more than 3 million patients, aims to understand COPD patients’ behavior using mobile and digital technology paired with data analytics. The collaboration comes right on time: The state of California is estimated to spend $2.8 billion in COPD medical costs by 2020, according to the CDC.
“From that perspective, this collaboration is an opportunity for us to build off the experiences of providers, and the challenges they face,” Kansal says. “Sutter Health is unique in the fact that they have actually invested internally in research with an objective of finding efficiencies. Our collaboration will get deeper into care delivery and how it is provided.”
The goals of the partnership are to:
- Create a tablet or kiosk data collection system that patients fill out themselves at each healthcare visit;
- create tools that make it easier for patients and providers to communicate; and
- use visuals and other technology to help patients and providers collaborate on decision-making processes.
The companies will be using clinical data to get a better understanding of patient behavior in hopes of making COPD more manageable, Kansal says.
“We will be focusing more on electronic health records data. The value in that will be focused on why patients behave the way they behave. We can become really proactive about managing a disease, and begin to build cost predictions,” Kansal says.