How do technology and incremental innovation improve patients’ health and quality of life?
by Tarek Milla, June 1, 2022
It may seem like healthcare organizations are constantly developing and launching new products into the market, with the goal of meeting new needs and/or treating other diseases that had not been treated previously. Although that may be, in many other cases these companies are focused on implementing modifications to already-existing products. This is what is known as incremental innovation, consisting in adding value to an already-existing product by incorporating changes and/or improvements.
According to the publication, “Incremental Innovation: Adapting to patient needs”, “Incremental innovation is marked by improvements in therapeutic quality, safety, and efficacy over existing medicines. In practice, such improvements inherently expand the number of treatment and dosing options available…”. This concept has gained increasing relevance, to the point at which “in the last decade, approximately 40% of the pharmaceuticals that have arrived on the market have been created through incremental innovation,” according to an article in Empordà.
This incremental innovation results in important benefits for patients, healthcare professionals, and healthcare systems. From the patient’s point of view, incremental innovation offers a broader range of therapeutic options, which can result in the clinical improvement of their disease and/or their quality of life and, in many cases, helping maintain their treatment. For healthcare professionals, incremental innovation offers them flexibility in treating the individual needs of their patients, as they can select treatments that are more adapted to each one’s condition. Then, for healthcare systems, “incremental innovation brings about better adherence and compliance with treatment and, thus, less risk of complications, which leads to a reduction in the use of other healthcare resources, according to Farmaindustria.
In order to make this possible… What kinds of incremental innovation can there be in medications?
- Medications developed from one that is already established improving their effectiveness and/or their tolerance
- Medications that combine various active ingredients in a single pharmaceutical product
- Medications in a modified pharmaceutical form that makes them easier to take
- Medications used for diseases different from those for which they were originally developed
- Medications that include devices that facilitate their use, as in the case of injectables
- Medications that are integrated with digital applications to improve their management and monitoring
In these advances, technology plays a fundamental role, facilitating both the process of improvement of existing treatments, as well as the resulting contribution that is made in the use of the medication in question, as can be seen in the last point mentioned.
This is a type of incremental innovation that is gaining prominence, as this combination of treatment with technology helps improve administration and implementation. In addition, in many cases these kinds of digital platforms facilitate the remote monitoring of the patient, improving the interaction between the patient and the healthcare professional, and sharing and connecting information in both directions, thus helping in clinical decision making. The goal is to constantly improve the experiences of the patients and the healthcare professional, ultimately impacting the health and quality of life for the patient.
Ultimately, incremental innovation is a process that provides high value to the different participants in the healthcare environment. The use of technology plays a fundamental role in achieving this, providing value in the management and administration of the treatments, and in the way in which the patient receives care and is treated by the healthcare professional.