Podcast: From Real-World Data to Real-World Decisions


How to ensure medications work as intended for different patient populations.

Carolyn Magill and Tom Robinson

2 min read

Do you have a half empty bottle of pills in your medicine cabinet that's just collecting dust? If so, you're not alone.

In this episode of the Oliver Wyman Health Podcast, Tom Robinson, Partner in Oliver Wyman’s Health & Life Sciences practice, chats with Carolyn Magill, Aetion's Chief Executive Officer. Aetion is a digital health company turning real-world data into real-world decisions by examining how well clinical interventions work for different patient populations.

Carolyn discusses her unique career trajectory from the world of nuclear weapons to the world of healthcare, and how Aetion is partnering with organizations and companies like The New England Journal of Medicine, McLean Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, biopharma, payers, and more.

  • "Applying scientific rigor means we have transparency in assumptions. It means we can replicate the results of large-scale data analytics problems that we address on our platform. And that we're very clear what happens if we tweak some of those assumptions and their potential impact on the results we see."
  • "There was recently a study by a biopharma manufacturer ⁠— a cardiovascular outcomes trial called CAROLINA — with thousands of patients across dozens of countries over eight years to determine whether a drug that was already on the market was safe for the population. Researchers on our platform were able to do the same study in a matter of weeks. It's an opportunity to understand how well medications work for specific subsets of the population through data instead of using people. It cuts all kinds of inefficiencies out of the process and can get us to very consistent results."
  • "Do you know anyone who's ever had to change a course of treatment midstream because the first medication they took didn't work? You're not alone. ... Now we can use data to say: 'This isn't just someone with diabetes. They have diabetes and cardiovascular disease, or they have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and heart failure,' and start to get much more specific about what works when." 
  • "Researchers from McLean Hospital were looking at medications for children with ADHD on our platform. This bodes well for the kinds of studies that can be done on our platform moving forward related to comparative effectiveness, because children are not included in clinical trials, for very good reasons. By using our platform to assess how well these medications worked for kids related to the likelihood of psychotic events, researchers made progress in an area they otherwise couldn't have."
  • "[Value-based care] is just getting off the ground in the medication space where we're starting to see more and more activity with high-cost drugs, with specialty medications as an example. And then a receptivity (or at least a willingness) to try for other kinds of medications, and a recognition we need to have a different kind of conversation than we've been having historically. Much of what we're doing at this point is getting disparate parties, who may not have trusted each other historically, to have a conversation about how to structure metrics that help them appreciate whether a medication is working specifically for a patient population they're serving." 
  • "By advancing standards that we use about what constitutes regulatory grade real-world data, by focusing on what it means to create real-world evidence for regulatory type decisions, we're able to win credibility of skeptics."
  • Carolyn Magill and
  • Tom Robinson