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COTA combines oncology expertise with technology and analytics to organize real world data
Steven Loeb speaks with Miruna Sasu, President and CEO of COTA, a company that combines oncology expertise with technology and analytics to organize real world data in order to guide decisions and actions.
Our goal is to understand tech breakthroughs radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, diagnose and treat conditions and measure outcomes. And whether tech is helping or hurting our well-being physically and mentally.
Highlights from the interview:
- Sasu’s grandfather was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in the late 90s. He was given three months to live and they were told to put his affairs in order but he was able to get onto the treatment arm of a clinical trial, and it saved his life. He went through a trial run by Bristol Myers Squibb for about two years, and then went into remission, living for another 30 years. Her grandmother was not so lucky: she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and passed away five years after that diagnosis. That is part of the reason why Sasu joined COTA: she believes strongly in utilizing real world data and electronic medical records to make sense of patients and their journeys, and to understand how to position treatments in a better way so that everybody can follow her grandfather's story.
- Data from electronic medical records has to be cleaned and structured and put in big datasets to be ready to be analyzed. There's no database out there that has all of them. In fact, because of privacy, and because of some logistical issues, it is very difficult to actually get to medical records themselves even if you want to analyze them. So, siloing is a big problem as is fragmentation. There are a lot of healthcare provider organizations who not only are not leveraging their own data, but they also don't know where or even where to start.
- Cancer is a really difficult disease to treat since every single sub-cancer is based on an organ system. Because of that, you can't treat cancer as one disease, it's many, many, many diseases. There are hundreds and hundreds of sub-types of cancer and those are very, very different from each other, and they are treated completely differently. To be able to gather that data, you have to know where to go, you have to understand where those patients are being treated, and how those patients are being treated and the journeys that they go through, which are quite different from each other.
- There are a number of different things COTA does with its data, including creating datasets for large pharmaceutical and biotech companies for clinical trial use. COTA augments clinical trial control arms, meaning it sifts through patients and matches them to clinical trials inclusion/exclusion criteria. And once it has done that, it prepares datasets for the FDA.
- The data that COTA curates all goes back to the health care provider who can use that data to interrogate their own set of records. For example, a question that a health care provider might have is how many breast cancer patients they saw last year. Without a clean data set, they don't really know, so COTA provides the data back to them and a system on top of the data that does such calculations.
- COTA doesn’t make recommendations, and the medical professional is the one who needs to make that recommendation based on that patient and their or their holistic situation. It does create statistics so that it's easier for that doctor to make that type of recommendation, which COTA calls clinical recommendations, and it wraps everything in statistics, but, ultimately, the decision is the healthcare provider's decision in concordance with the patient as to what they're going to do next about the stage of disease.
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