Can you use all the data that the scientific community has generated to develop better treatment plans for patients? Can I identify which drug the patient should get? The idea that you can match the right drug to the right patient at the right time—all of that will be a function of technology, of Big Data, and of harnessing the computing power that exists today and will exist in the future.

There’s a company that developed really powerful technology to sequence the human genome, and one of the benefits of that is if you are now a pregnant woman in her late 30s who is deemed high-risk, you can now just get a simple blood test that will give you a pretty accurate probability of that child having Down syndrome or some other genetic abnormality. Ten years ago, you were going to get a really big needle in your belly that would have to draw out fluid, and that’s the technology and the power of that technology. And we think a lot of that is going to continue, but it takes a really long time. Frankly, at this point, if we were 10 years prior to today, many CEOs thought that we would have figured this out already, and we haven’t. Drug development is slow. The progress that occurs with technology is really slow. And then the time it takes to evaluate all of these technologies and combine them to actually impact people’s lives takes a really long time. The good thing is that it’s getting better so that my hope is 10 years from today, we make a lot more progress than we did in the first 10 years.

I actually think some of the greatest innovation in healthcare will probably come from technology companies—companies that aren’t in healthcare—like the Googles of the world. Maybe even the Amazons of the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have your Alexa to remind you to take your insulin so you didn’t end up in the hospital? And that’s great for the sector because it’ll force the companies in the sector to keep innovating. It’s great for the system because it’ll reduce costs ultimately because you’ll keep people out of the emergency room. But ultimately it’s great for the patient to live longer and they’ll feel better.

© AllianceBernstein L.P.

© AllianceBernstein

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