McLaren Applied Technologies

Designing the future of health care - the McLaren way

What if a smart phone app could improve the performance of a costly medicine, help us manage long-term health conditions better, or enable healthcare professionals to devise personal treatment strategies before and after surgery?

In motorsport, there are two types of feedback loops that are performed with the data captured during Grands Prix. The first is the moment-by-moment tuning of the engine and gearbox with sensor data; often, it is a computer that makes these critical decisions, and not a human. The second, is the long-term monitoring of operations, or failure over time, typically involving a human in making decisions. Both of these can be applied to the human body to improve our health through a digital therapeutic. 

Digital therapeutics is an exciting and rapidly evolving category of companion technologies in the healthcare space, and a product class that is dependent upon the ability to capture, manage and make decisions from lots of data.

At McLaren Applied Technologies, our business has grown beyond our core expertise in motorsport electronics; our aim through our Health business is to reduce health inequality, transform surgical outcomes and improve lives by developing data-driven healthcare solutions based on decades of experience at the forefront of the world’s most data-intensive performance sport.

"Unlike many other companies designing the future of Healthcare, we’ve come from a position where we’ve spent the past thirty years developing solutions that support continuous improvement in the most demanding and challenging of environments" says McLaren Applied Technologies Chief Medical Officer Prof Adam Hill. "Fundamentally, we create devices that efficiently capture performance metrics, mechanisms that enable us to communicate them, and platforms that facilitate us to analysing that data to derive actionable insight. 

"When you act upon that, you close the continuous improvement loop; the philosophy at the heart of our success."

Formula 1 demands a constant flow of innovation; if you’re not taking your product – the race car – forwards, you’re going backwards. This ability to innovate in design, to measure and understand performance, and to simulate with absolute fidelity the effects of our innovations, has enabled us to develop the technical competence and the platforms to be a powerful force in the healthcare market.

We are now actively developing solutions hand-in-hand with major pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers in four therapy areas: musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, diabetes, and neuroscience. Outcomes in each, we believe, has a significant behavioural or lifestyle component, and therefore offers the greatest potential for a Digital Therapeutic to have a positive impact on an individual’s health.

In effect, we give patients and healthcare professionals real-time remote monitoring and analysis tools derived directly from the systems that we use to monitor the ‘health’ and performance of our cars on track. Those systems are robust, as they have to be in one of the harshest operating environments on earth, and they are capable of capturing many thousands of data points per lap – informing decisions that change the outcome of the race, as well as enabling us to improve the design of our cars iteratively throughout the racing season.

Real-time monitoring of data-guided therapy, whether that be lifestyle intervention to drive the right behaviours, or measuring the effectiveness of drugs or surgical treatment, gives healthcare professionals a much richer insight into patient behaviour. Decisions based on this knowledge have a greater likelihood of a positive outcome, precisely because they are objective, rather than subjective; at no point is the patient expected to interpret the data themselves, or rate pain on a scale of one to ten, or furnish an answer to the woolly question like “How do you feel?" In the case of ongoing management of chronic conditions, or ending disease progression, this not only means a better outcome for the patient, it also saves costs throughout the care industry.

Our expertise in biomechanics, built in Formula 1 and further developed in parallel fields such as our collaboration with leading bicycle manufacturer Specialized, is especially resonant in the surgical field of Orthopaedics.

"Healthcare systems are moving away from a pay-per-procedure compensation mechanism towards an evidence-based payment system based on value created", says Hill. "In Orthopaedics, for example, by measuring an individual patient’s movement, you can form a better impression of how a joint needs to be repaired than if you simply relied on an X-ray to image the joint’s structure. 

"That’s an elegant solution because it allows the patient, clinicians and the payers and providers to engage in a data set that describes how the patient was before surgery, how they are afterwards, and therefore what the value of the surgical procedure is."

"Once you understand what the value of an intervention has been, whether it has improved someone’s outcome or not – and therefore whether you need to do another procedure to get to the desired outcome – it’s better for everyone in the health economy."

Digital Therapeutics are here today, but not evenly distributed; tomorrow, they will be instrumental in designing the future of health.

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