Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Maintaining the health and well-being of people around the world requires significantly different approaches regionally and locally. Biomedical and information technology advances, such as human genome analysis, are increasingly emerging, opening a wide field of innovation with the potential to disrupt the entire healthcare system for people everywhere. These advances are helping us understand why people die, while at the same time they are radically accelerating the time to cure.
To improve people’s health and well-being, it is imperative to understand why they die. In 2016 an estimated 56.9 million people died worldwide. The majority (71%) died from noncommunicable diseases (NCD), with cardiovascular problems, strokes, cancers, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases listed as the leading causes. Roughly 13 million people succumbed to infections such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, bad sanitation and hygiene, or poor maternal and neonatal conditions.
In high-income countries, almost 90% died from predominantly chronic NCDs, such as the ones listed above, plus dementia. Of these people, 7 out of 10 were older than 70. And, in these more affluent countries, only 1 out of 100 children under the age of 15 passed away.
In contrast, infectious diseases, such as lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis were responsible for more than half of the deaths in lower-income countries. 4 in every 10 deaths were among children under 15 years of age, mainly caused by complications of childbirth due to prematurity, birth asphyxia, and birth trauma.
Based on these differences, it’s clear to see that increasing the health or well-being of people around the world may require significantly different approaches regionally and locally.
Significant progress was made over the past decades to reduce infant mortality, even though the millennium goal of a 67% reduction was not met. Pneumonia is still the leading cause of child mortality, claiming more than 900,000 lives of children under the age of five every year, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In fact, this disease claims more lives than the combined total of deaths from malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. In 2013, the World Health Organization and UNICEF launched the integrated Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD) to address the root causes of these deadly illnesses.
Poor living conditions, such as household air pollution and inadequate nutrition, amplify the risk of pneumonia, which can be called the disease of poverty. And even though preventive vaccines and curative medications are globally available at moderate costs, access to these life-saving treatments remains limited, especially in remote communities. Since early pneumonia symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses such as malaria or a regular flu, many children are misdiagnosed and receive incorrect treatment. An early and appropriate diagnosis, often available through local community health workers and low-level health facilities, could significantly increase the rate of infant survival.
The Malaria Consortium’s Pneumonia Diagnostics Project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, set out to identify and test simple and effective methods and technology to improve early infant pneumonia diagnosis. This project focused on South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. Health workers involved in this research used an easy and accurate assessment of breathing rates and blood-oxygen levels to support their diagnoses. And they evaluated the combination of local educational training with simple and robust devices that enable early and correct diagnoses to initiate appropriate pneumonia treatment and save the lives of children under the age of five.
Since the human genome was successfully analyzed roughly 10 years ago, biomedical and information technology advances are increasingly emerging, opening a wide field of innovation with the potential to disrupt the entire healthcare system. Diseases can now be understood at the genetic level, while prevention methods and treatments can be modeled and simulated at the molecular level. All of this radically accelerates the time to cure.
In early 2015, former President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative and allocated significant funds to boost research efforts that can revolutionize how to improve health and treat diseases. With this funding, new approaches are being developed that consider individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles. This will ultimately lead to the ability to tailor personalized treatment plans, escaping the caveats of the traditional “one-size-fits-all” treatments for the “average” patient. Precision medicine can also be improved with machine learning, for example, to get deeper insight into the human genome.
The benefits of personalized precision treatments are many. They boost therapy success rates and increase the quality of patients’ lives while controlling healthcare costs with better, faster treatment and less waste on ineffective therapies. These kinds of advances can create a positive ripple effect on the economics of the entire healthcare system.
SAP cares deeply about delivering insights and simplifying medicine to help diagnose, treat, cure – and ultimately prevent – diseases. It’s part of our vision and purpose, which is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. As an example, our technology is effectively used to help address cancer diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, SAP cooperates with CBmed GmbH, a center for biomarker research in medicine, to ensure appropriately standardized data for biomarker research is provided. This can ultimately improve clinical decisions, especially in the areas of cancer, metabolism, and inflammation. CBmed uses the SAP Connected Health platform to integrate the different data sets and to analyze the data in real time.
We also believe that our long-term success as a company is the result of a healthy workplace culture. The Business Health Culture Index (BHCI) measures the general cultural conditions that enable employees to stay healthy and maintain a sense of well-being. We have seen that a 1% increase in our BHCI may have increased our operating profit by approximately €90-€100 million in 2018.
We have invested in health and well-being programs and solutions to help employees run at their best. For instance, we offer our employees various programs (such as Run Your Way and COPE) that can help improve overall workforce balance and protect personal health and performance. Using real-time data, our SAP SuccessFactors Work-Life solution helps employees evaluate their satisfaction and well-being. It enables them to explore the drivers of their health and engagement as well as to discover steps to take to help them improve both. The solution supports employers in tailoring engagement programs to create a thriving workplace.
Three hundred and fifty million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. There is an emerging global epidemic of diabetes that can be traced back to rapid increases in those overweight, including obesity and physical inactivity. But diabetes is not inevitable. Roche Diagnostics uses SAP technology to create transparency about blood sugar and activity levels to support its personalized preventive care solution for diabetics. Doctors can follow their patients’ progress in real time. If indicators and parameters change, the health expert receives an alert. They can then send messages or set new goals for the patient.
Gustave Roussy is Europe’s largest cancer center with over 1,000 new cancer patients each month. While some of them might have the same form of cancer, their treatment requirements can still differ a lot. Precision medicine derives from the idea that treatments need to be tailored to each patient and is based on the integration of data from various technologies, such as DNA sequencing or quantitative pathology. Together with the SAP Health portfolio, Gustave Roussy is able to integrate patient data onto one platform, enabling the cancer center to find the best treatment for each of its patients based on their unique molecular profile. As a result, this increases their chances of a successful treatment.
Mercy Accountable Care Organization LLC (Mercy ACO) is the fifth-largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States and serves millions of patients. True to a data-driven approach and based on the SAP HANA business data platform, the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite, and the SAP Analytics application, Mercy analyzes millions of records from various sources, including electronic health records, to provide physicians and clinical teams with more accurate and timely information at the point of care to help improve patient outcomes.
Today 132 million people worldwide are dependent on wheelchairs. And with the percentage of elderly people in western societies growing, the number of patients having to adapt to life in a wheelchair will only rise in the coming decades. The wrong sitting posture can have a severe negative impact on the well-being of these individuals, who will potentially require therapy that will add to healthcare costs. Dutch wheelchair manufacturer Life & Mobility GmbH uses IoT sensors and SAP technology to collect data coming from smart wheelchairs. Suggestions can then be relayed back to the patient on how to adjust their sitting behavior for greater comfort and health, improving their life in a wheelchair.
A volunteer group of software engineers from SAP Labs Israel created an app that could ultimately lead to the development of a new treatments for ALS. The ALS Mobile Analyzer app enables patients and caregivers to collect and upload relevant patient data to healthcare professionals and researchers on a daily basis from wherever they are located. Besides providing objective measurements, the app allows patients to fill out subjective questionnaires about their functioning and quality of life, providing a picture of how they are feeling in general.