Wanda Gamble oversees the health and analytics unit at Battelle as a vice president for the nonprofit science and research organization whose federal healthcare clients include the departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, HHS components and the Military Health System.
She joined Columbus, Ohio-headquartered Battelle in 2012 after three years at the former Vangent as VP of HHS business development and prior to that she led BD functions for SRA International‘s global health sector.
Gamble recently spoke to ExecutiveBiz for this in-depth conversation on Battelle’s health analytics collaborations with agencies, an outlook on the future of precision medicine she also offers her views on the unique role nonprofit organizations like Battelle can offer in the healthcare market.
ExecutiveBiz: Give us an overview of two main items on the agenda right now at Battelle's healthcare unit.
Wanda Gamble: First, we continue to align ourselves with the major healthcare and public health trends. In public health, the challenges are acute to chronic conditions — looking to better manage and improve studies around the acute to chronic conditions, the aging population, health disparities, emerging diseases and biodefense.
We want to align to those challenges and trends as it relates not only to staff and other resources but also capabilities, solutions offering and messaging that Battelle puts forth.
Second, we continue to invest in great research, scientific and technology staff and R&D so Battelle remains at the forefront of providing our clients with what we call good science. Clients come to us because we provide this good science. We are nearly 90 years old; this is in our DNA and always is on our agenda.
ExecutiveBiz: Where are health agencies looking to use their R&D resources?
Wanda Gamble: We are primarily seeing a push towards precision medicine, which we heard so much about, which is kind of an uptick on personalized medicine. In so doing, the outcome is to do just that — improve health outcomes.
NIH is our primary repository for many research efforts. Pockets of those are happening at Veterans Affairs and DoD. We are seeing this need to improve health outcomes with a targeting of dollars to precision medicine and personalized medicine.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you seeing analytics evolve in the federal health arena?
Wanda Gamble: It is in synthesizing good information from all this tsunami of data sources. You have data and information coming from everywhere. Being able to synthesize all this information to get good information and data to allow clients to better affect policy and decision-making — that is how I see analytics evolving in the federal health arena.
ExecutiveBiz: What unique attributes do you see Battelle bringing to healthcare as a nonprofit organization?
Wanda Gamble: Not only is Battelle a nonprofit, but it is also a charitable trust. We are overseen by a governing body, along with the sitting attorney general in Ohio, given that we are headquartered in Columbus and that is where the Battelle Memorial Institute was founded. As such, we always say we make money but we don't make profit.
That means that being the largest privately-owned scientific research and development company in the world, Battelle invests in research-and-development, alongside our clients and separate from our clients.
That allows us to be a thought leader and an independent third party that can bring that good science to solve problems and challenges that our clients might encounter in healthcare, public health and life sciences, as well as to other areas.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you identify two trends in healthcare we should observe closer over the next year?
Wanda Gamble: Anything around issues with aging are getting attention and will continue to get a lot of attention. We have the baby boomers turning retirement age, thousands and higher than that everyday.
As such with aging, we have neurological disorders, Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, mobility issues, vision and hearing impairment — all of these things as relates to aging and subsequent solutions offerings that can help support that aspect are going to be notable and there is going to be an uptick in funding as it relates to those trends.
In the other courses, right on the front page particularly of late are the substance abuse issues around whether it be tobacco, marijuana, alcohol or opiates.
That's where I see the couple of major trends in healthcare that will have industry take notice over the next year and provide appropriate response to support clients in their mission in dealing with these respective trends.
Everything we do in health analytics, we do it from a scientific perspective. Everything is about good science. When we look at numbers and analytics, it is coming from that perspective.