What’s in store for 2024? Generative AI, digital health funding, and real-world data

With 2023 officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to think about what’s coming up ahead in 2024. Every new year is likely to bring its challenges, but the next 12 months are also filled with excitement, opportunity, and the promise of continued breakthroughs in technology, drug development, and patient care.

To ring in the new year, we asked COTA’s leadership team about their top predictions for 2024 in the oncology, real-world data, and life sciences spaces.  Here’s what they said.

Generative AI is going to keep having a moment

Unsurprisingly, generative AI has captured the attention of our executives.

“The promise for generative AI as a breakthrough tool to transform cancer therapy is immense, with sophisticated algorithms to help doctors and researchers find insights that will uncover treatments to transform cancer care and help millions of people live healthy lives,” said one team member.

Another predicted that in 2024, “we’ll see healthcare organizations take a more pragmatic approach, focusing on clear use cases and concrete benefits. AI is poised to transform the healthcare industry. The COO who stays ahead of the curve will be at the forefront of this revolution.”

However, it’s going to take some effort and investment to make sure that AI will develop along the right pathways so it’s trustworthy, free from bias, and applicable to all patient populations.

“AI will not work without quality data,” one executive stated. “There is already evidence that generative AI systems can amplify gaps, errors, and biases. But quality data – essential for AI’s clinical insights – isn’t produced fast enough.”

“We must produce high-quality data for healthcare faster by meshing automation and human supervision. As much as 70% of data generated in sophisticated computer systems still needs to be qualified by human experts at great cost in time and resources. Being able to consistently and accurately extract data is key to the AI revolution in healthcare.”

Digital health funding will recover from a rocky 2023

2023 wasn’t exactly a banner year on the financial side of the digital health industry. Investment was down as the economy pulled back under the threat of inflation, and the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) sent shockwaves through the startup world.

“COTA was among the numerous healthcare, life sciences, and data science companies that banked with SVB, the institution of choice for some of the most successful names in the tech industry, including nearly half of all US venture-backed health and technology startups,” said one financial pro. “Bank failures are rare, but they do happen. The collapse of SVB came as a complete shock to many of us, but it’s a good reminder that we need to be prepared for anything in these turbulent times.”

“I’d like to think the digital health market has bottomed out, and we will see an influx of new investments, including mergers and acquisitions, as the financial markets improve,” they added.

It’s time to focus on the quality of real-world data

Artificial intelligence algorithms are thirsty for data, and 2024 will be a time for figuring out how to provide enough trustworthy, accurate, high-quality real-world data (RWD) to meet their demands.

“As the industry continues to think about implementing AI into clinical care, safety should remain a top priority,” noted one leader. “This includes using data that is reviewed and supervised by medical professionals as part of standard practice. Similarly, datasets for AI should include diverse groups of people – and the societal factors that may impact their health and care – to ensure we’re unlocking information that improves cancer care for all people.”

In addition to supporting AI tools, RWD will continue to gain traction in the regulatory space as it becomes more integrated into clinical trials, drug approvals submissions, and post-market surveillance.

This year, the focus will be more and more on the quality of RWD than the quantity, said one COTA expert.

“Greater use and acceptance with regulators will require that the quality of the RWD is there – from the ability to go back to the data source to confirm outcomes to ensuring completeness,” they said.  “Pharma development programs are becoming more targeted and focused on specific subsets of disease via biomarkers and genetic testing, so it is critical to have robust, usable RWD curated with these smaller cohorts in mind instead of simply trying to accumulate as much data as possible and hoping that some of it will be applicable.”

Overall, 2024 is predicted to be a year of continued change and enormous possibilities for safer, more effective, and more efficient patient care. At COTA, we’re thrilled to be at the heart of this wave of change and look forward to a productive, innovative, and collaborative year ahead. Happy New Year!