Verita featured in The Business Times
Verita’s highly-personalised, data-enabled approach is set to revolutionise healthcare
If you ask Julian Andriesz how old he is, he’s likely to give you two answers: 51, and 36.
That’s because the CEO of Verita Healthcare Group – a scientifically-led integrated medical group headquartered in Singapore – feels 15 years younger than he really is. And he’s got the data to prove it.
This is thanks to the Verita Index of Biological Age (VIBA™), which uses markers from a drop of blood to reveal how old a person truly is – not their chronological age (which is calculated from their date of birth), but their biological age (which measures their health and aging signature). Developed in partnership with leading genetic scientists from the University of Vienna in Austria, VIBA™ is a fast and non-invasive screening process that compares various physical and cellular aging markers – such as telomere length, DNA stability, methylation, inflammation, and other epigenetic information – against a statistically representative database.
Oftentimes, there is a gap between the two numbers, because epi-genetic factors – such as one’s lifestyle, stress levels, environment, and diet – can significantly influence overall health and aging.
For example, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking and other lifestyle choices lead to cellular damage and inefficiencies – resulting in physical aging and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Says Mr Andriesz: “People really want two things when it comes to their health and the well-being of their loved ones: One is disease prevention, and two, smarter management of biological aging. They don’t want to accept the idea that aging inevitably leads to a degeneration into weakness, ill-health, and pain.”
Indeed, he has noticed a key switch in consumer behaviour: patients are demanding alternatives to generic, mass-market drugs and medical interventions that typically come into play only after a disease has been diagnosed. Instead, he has seen an increase in demand for advanced preventative screenings and therapies – ones which help to identify risks of potential health issues and intercept them early to avoid the onset of disease.
“Clients are looking for personalised, proactive, evidence-based approaches to slow down and reverse the aging process, and actually prevent disease – so that they increase not only their life-span, but most importantly their ‘health-span’,” says Mr Andriesz, referring to the healthy years of one’s life.
He adds: “This intuitively makes sense, and this is one industry gap that Verita looks to fill. Innovations in precision screenings, therapies, and products are one way to achieve this, but educating people on simple lifestyle changes is also important.”
To that end, to complement its clinic and product offerings, the company will soon be rolling out a unique health screening platform, Verita Wisdom™, that combines fast, comprehensive, and individualised health analytics alongside digitalised monitoring and coaching. Launching in the second half of this year, Verita Wisdom™ will provide an accurate 360-degree view of one’s health and risk status, as well as tools to manage identified risks while improving overall health.
Verita Wisdom™ enables a customised, data-driven approach from the outset. Take weight-loss strategies for patients at risk of Type 2 Diabetes, for example. Says Mr Andriesz: “Traditionally, screening data has been limited to weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood glucose levels. However, today, we can accurately measure human metabolism, how many calories one burns at rest, and whether those calories are from burning body fat or something else their metabolism may prefer – like sugars, carbohydrates or alcohol. We can accurately measure the patient’s energy expenditure via tracking devices, as well as the effects of diet on the patient’s body composition (meaning the proportion of fat versus muscle). This unique data footprint allows health professionals to individualise and validate the effectiveness of nutrition and exercise programmes amongst other integrative approaches.”
This is a far cry from the typical Type 2 Diabetes advice: asking patients to move more and eat less to lose weight. Mr Andriesz’s point is that not all patients will respond the same way to generic instructions. “That advice fails to work for most people, due to a whole host of reasons. Obesity is then mistaken as an intractable problem, because most fail after multiple attempts and end up re-gaining weight.
“It’s like throwing a dart at a dartboard – even if you hit the bullseye this time, you’re likely to still lose at the end of the game, because you’ve never truly understood your personal winning strategy,” says Mr Andriesz.
In contrast, Verita Wisdom™ will provide real-time monitoring and live feedback, with content spanning customised nutrition and exercise plans to patient education. Treatment strategies will be efficiently communicated through a shared digital platform, allowing for better engagement between the medical professional and the patient. “Studies clearly show that the more patients understand their condition and the rationale for treatment, the more likely the treatment will succeed,” Mr Andriesz emphasises.
What’s more, the anonymized data garnered in the process will prove invaluable beyond a single-patient standpoint – it can inform health professionals, governments and researchers for years to come.
Step-by-step over the next decade, through in-house expertise and smart collaborations with international research institutes and MedTech partners, Verita aims to harness medical innovation and health informatics to become a global leader in preventative, personalized, and integrative healthcare.