Health data is revolutionizing medicine |

Feast. Roche at the Embassy of Switzerland celebrated its 125th anniversary with a glimpse into the future of medicine, which will witness a paradigm shift with the help of data and artificial intelligence.

Magnificently in the immediate vicinity of Vienna’s Belvedere, the famous pharmaceutical company from Basel has invited the Swiss residence of “125 years of Roche” under the motto: “Together in the future of medicine”. In 1896, Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel realized that industrial manufacturing of medicines would mean tremendous advances in disease control and founded the traditional company on the Rhine in the border triangle of Switzerland, Germany and France. Today Roche is a global life sciences company with more than 100,000 employees in nearly 100 countries. Roche has grown into one of the largest and most innovative companies worldwide, primarily through biotechnology and diagnostics.

Ambassador Barbara Schedler Fischer welcomed nearly 50 invited guests to the anniversary, including Susan Erkens-Rick, General Manager of Roche’s Pharmaceutical Division in Austria, Utta-Maria Onendorf, General Manager of Diagnostics at Roche in Austria, and Dirk Opelhauer, President of Cluster Central, Eastern Europe and Managing Director of Roche Diabetes Care Schweiz AG. “Roche has always been a pioneer and has invested a lot of time in innovations to advance people’s health,” said Erkins-Rick, reviewing the Roche success story. Prefer to look to the future.

On the other hand, the technological possibilities in medicine have never been greater than in the age of digitalisation. “The latest generation of advanced medicines is paving the way for personalized global healthcare,” said Erkins Rick. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we can respond faster and more efficiently to global challenges through digitization. “From the industry side, we can use this expertise in treatment and diagnosis to digitalize the healthcare system,” adds Uta-Maria Ohndorf, General Manager Roche Diagnostics GmbH.

On the other hand, there are many hurdles to overcome in order to realize the potential of big data. “To be a leader in medical research in Europe, we have to bring innovations to patients more quickly,” Erkins-Rick said, looking for potential for improvement in clinical studies to research the safety and efficacy of treatments. “Today, clinical studies are primarily conducted on specifically selected patients. Health data obtained during medical treatment procedures leads to accurate predictions about treatment success with much less effort and much faster.” Patients have already recognized the benefits of health data. Because they are already using health apps through which diseases can be monitored easily and discreetly on their smartphones. We have seen this development in the diabetes sector for years,” emphasizes Dirk Opelhauer, Group Central and Eastern European Group President and General Manager Roche Diabetes Care Austria GmbH.


Puls4 Info Director Corina Melbourne gave an interview to Nicola Bidlington (European Patient Forum).(c) Reza Sarkari

Real-time data is essential

In his keynote speech, futurologist Sven Gabor Jansky impressively demonstrated where the journey of innovations could go in the coming decades and which paradigm shift in diagnosis, treatment and prevention is imminent. The top speaker is headed by one of the largest institutes for future research in Europe, 2b AHEAD in Leipzig. When he talks to successful strategic chiefs and decision makers from leading companies, they all share confidence in the advancement of data-driven technology and artificial intelligence. In just a few decades, this further development will enable us to live well over 100 years – or even digitally “immortal”. For example, by making “brain loading” possible via AI technology. In order for a utopia to become a reality, several AI and health technologies must be combined, which can then be used to make predictions based on new and historical data – the so-called “predictive economics”. “The result of this development is that people’s trust is changing. They trust AI more than humans, even more than themselves.” For example, because AI will be faster and more reliable than any doctor when it comes to diagnosing cancer In the future.” “When it comes to data, a lot of people think of static data, but today digital companies are primarily operating with real-time data.” The United States and Asia are farther than Europe. “The GDPR slows things down,” Jansky said.

Medicine becomes adaptive

Sooner or later, the paradigm shift in medicine will happen. In prognostic medicine, symptoms are recognized before a person becomes ill. According to the German futurologist, the next step will be adaptive medicine. Based on genetic data and with the help of artificial intelligence, people can be treated specifically and individually in precision medicine of the future. Example: Genetic analysis identifies the ‘bacterial mixture’ in the user’s gut in real time and sends the result to a smartphone. In the event of a deficiency, the code defines the corresponding “medical food”, which, by printing it with a 3D food printer, achieves protective effects before diseases occur.

Reinforcement of responsibility

The highlight of the meeting marking 125 years of Roche was an exciting panel discussion, where Puls4-Info Director Corinna Melbourne welcomed well-known experts: Nicola Bidlington, former Secretary General of the European Patients Forum (EPF), Markus Muller, President of the Medical University of Vienna, Nicholas Forgo, Head of the Institute for Innovation and Digitization in Law at the University of Vienna, Futurist Sven Gabor Jansky and Florian Facher, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry for Digitalization and Business Location.
“Patients who are critically ill are more willing to share their data, provided that data processing is responsible,” Bidlington said. Patients hope to find solutions for themselves and future generations. They are interested in influencing health care systems at the local, regional, national and European levels. At the same time, data security and privacy should be the Holy Grail. “The risk of data falling into the wrong hands is enormous.” Bidlington knows this through her work with several university organizations in Europe. The European Patients Forum is building trust for responsible data sharing. The expert believes that “the responsible exchange of data is of great value to the medicine of the future.”

Markus Müller, Rector Med Uni Vienna, in conversation with Florian Facher, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry for Digitalization and Business Location.


Markus Müller, Rector Med Uni Vienna, in conversation with Florian Facher, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry for Digitalization and Business Location.(c) Reza Sarkari

Europe in the shadow of the United States

“In Austria we currently do shallow medicine, where we devote almost no time to the patient,” Muller said. That will change in the future. This is making a huge advance for individual medicine. “But we’re still far from that anyway because of the regulations. At least in Europe. Forgo made a proper comparison between the ‘burgers’: Asia and the United States make up the outside bread. Europe is quietly in between – hesitating. On the other hand, almost everyone uses the services that they It drains all personal data, but at the same time, the majority of the population does not currently allow the release of their data in real time for research, such as the pharmaceutical industry.The IT law expert said succinctly: “While the USA and Asia act, we are here in an ongoing discussion about data protection.” Strong conflicts of interest must be resolved.

On the other hand, the head of the department Facher broke a spear for Austria research. “We like to hide our light under a bushel. A lot is happening in research in Austria in many fields. Think quantum technology. We have senior researchers in Innsbruck and Vienna.” Our country does not have to hide in artificial intelligence either. “However, it will be difficult to commercialize Research and its transformation into products and services.” Regulation is an important issue here. “Although real-time data is the new gold, it is understandable that many people are critical of its use as well.” Frauch has advocated the protection of “healthy” data as a European path that emphasizes Protecting personal data without impeding innovation.However, he acknowledged, the pendulum is currently swinging more in the direction of safety and less in the direction of innovation—there is still potential here.Future scientist Jansky has spoken clearly in favor of deregulation.“We are too slow in any regulatory framework.” Logical conclusion: Get out of the regulated zone.”This is how successful companies in the United States and Asia do it.”

The industry has high hopes for the European Health Data Space (EHDS) and hopes that more movement will play out in favor of real-time data for the health industry. Forgo put reality back on the ground: “It’s a draft regulation, and so it’s just a suggestion that would probably bring us a fraction of the desired results in the end.”

In general, this means rethinking the attitude towards health and our healthcare system. “Today we are still very focused on the hospital,” stressed the Rector of the University of Meduni Vienna. With real-time data in the system, it will be possible in the future to create a “patientless hospital”. Medicine will move aggressively in the direction of prevention, putting the patient first and recognizing symptoms before a person becomes ill — roughly, just as the keynote predicted. “But we have to create the right infrastructure for this,” Mueller said, referring to his university, which is currently implementing a sustainable campus tailored to the needs of patients in the future. The panellists agreed on this point: change requires a shared rethinking of health, communication, and collaboration among all stakeholders.


The event “125 Years of Roche – Together in the Future of Medicine” was organized in collaboration with Roche in Austria.

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