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SAP Starts Early Access for Clinical, Genomic Data Integration Software; Announces PHEMI HIV Pact


SAP has unveiled an early version of a new standalone application based on its SAP Hana in-memory database technology called Medical Insights that integrates and analyzes clinical and genomic data to help oncologists make better treatment decisions for patients.

In addition, SAP has announced a partnership with Canadian firm PHEMI Health Systems to build a solution that would make it possible to provide more personalized treatments for HIV patients.

SAP disclosed the development of both products at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference held this week in Orlando. It is hoping to secure additional early adopters for the newly minted Medical Insights software which it plans to bring to market later this year. The company is still mulling pricing details.

Participants in the company's early access program will have the chance to test and give feedback on a solution that leverages the Hana infrastructure to extract, integrate, and query both structured and unstructured information from tumor and biomarker repositories, patients' electronic medical records, physician's notes, and more. SAP developed the app in conjunction with the German National Center for Tumor Diseases, which is using it internally for testing purposes. By announcing the program at HIMSS this week, SAP hopes to woo a much broader variety of clinical research centers, labs, and hospitals who would be willing to test and validate the system for cancer and other disease applications before it's made broadly available, Enakshi Singh, an SAP product manager for genomics and healthcare, told BioInform.

Medical Insights is part of a larger SAP strategy to develop several products to support healthcare and life science research — including applications for genomics and proteomics — that are based on the Hana platform, SAP's in-memory database technology, Singh said. Products like Medical Insights offer an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of the Hana platform, especially its ability to collate and analyze large and disparate data from things like public repositories, patient records, and clinical trials, and return results quickly, a task that's still challenging for some current systems that are sold to the healthcare industry, according to David Delaney, SAP's chief medical officer.

Aside from the ability to pull useful information from unstructured text — which, according to Singh, is one of the more unique features of the SAP solution — the Hana technology is primarily what sets SAP's offering apart from companies such as NextBio, for example, which is now owned by Illumina and also sells a clinical and genomic data aggregation and analysis product.

Also, Medical Insights is a cut above solutions from some companies that attempt to pre-assemble data in a fashion that they believe addresses the requirements of clinicians and researchers but which ultimately restrict users to asking questions that pertain to particular use cases or specific scenarios, Delaney said. With the Hana platform "you don’t have to anticipate how [a user] is going to want to look at the data … you can start with a question and follow it to a logical answer while exploring the data and you won't run into any immovable walls because of the way you are trying to look at the data versus how it was designed to be looked at … and it is fast enough to provide you the answer in real time."

In line with its efforts to build a portfolio of healthcare and research applications, SAP formed a partnership with Qiagen in 2012 to develop Hana-based capabilities for genomic sequence alignment and mutation. A separate partnership with the Technical University of Munich led to the launch of ProteomicsDB, a free web-based repository of human proteins and peptides from mass spectrometry experiments that leverages Hana to respond to queries in real time. A third partnership with MolecularHealth focused on integrating that company's oncology treatment decision support solution with Hana to reduce data processing and analysis times.

Now SAP has signed a partnership with PHEMI Health Systems — which last December began working with the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, part of Vancouver-based St. Paul's Hospital — on a solution that will help doctors select treatments for patients based on the genetic signature of each individual's particular viral strain. Specifically the center is implementing PHEMI's Central Healthcare data warehouse — a resource for collecting, curating, and analyzing healthcare information — as well as the SAP Hana platform, and it will use both solutions to store and mine both structured and unstructured research and patients' clinical information including sequence data from HIV strains.

PHEMI has developed the frontend of the system through which clinical researchers at the center will interact with the data — including tracking patients, their co-morbidities, treatments, and so on — and it's currently collecting and collating viral sequence data and preparing to implement a drug interaction database at the center, PHEMI CEO Paul Terry told BioInform.