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A Lesson from Medicine: Outcome Measures

A lesson from medicine on single outcome measures.

The desire for “better” health (a longer life? or happier?) attracts huge investments, yet we struggle to innovate.

"It's not for lack of effort", explains Claudio Garutti, PhD, "the bottleneck is the testing unit: humans".

"If you find a new genius treatment for heart failure, you need to prove that it reduces heart failure. Heart failure goes on for years, so you spend a lot of time in testing. There are approaches to reduce the testing time, but you can’t go below the time needed to observe the disease. Technology changes faster than biology".

Interestingly, the next step could be to change biology.

“Companies like Pandorum promise to design and manufacture 3-D functional human tissues. Imagine a future where small versions of your organs could be printed many times, and drugs tested on these replicas. That’s ‘Personalized Medicine’ at its best.”

“On the other hand, machines aren’t great yet at supporting medical decisions (MD Anderson - IBM Watson story). There are many factors, like the physiology and psychology of the individual, the medical guidelines and financial incentives of each healthcare system, and there is no single outcome measure that works for all situations.”

What exactly – exactly – is "fixed"?

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