As the winner of Deloitte Start Up Innovation Challenge 2017, we had the incredible opportunity to participate in Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine in San Diego Nov 6–9. Conference Livestreams are now available online.
MedAngel was one of 55 startups presenting at Exponential Medicine conference this year, among 575 participants, 75 of them Singularity University faculty members. All cutting edge & future in healthcare!
To get everyone up to speed, conference founder and chair Daniel Kraft among others gave an ‘Intro to Exponentials’ on the first day— we are at the knee of an exponential curve of advances in technology. To best utilize these disruptive changes to come, which will fundamentally change society, we need to adapt our thinking from linear to exponential instead of becoming overwhelmed. The future is here!
No less than 26 sessions took place over 4 packed days, covering various new technologies, change management and introducing inspiring personalities.
Each of the 26 sessions is summed up live in one of these infographic artworks (browse them all here!).
What’s the Future of Healthcare?
Virtual and Augmented Reality, Longevity, Artificial Intelligence, Robots, -omics, Big Data & Blockchain, …
With the exponentially declining costs of genetic analysis, this will play a larger role in clinical practice, but also many customer-focused services are emerging. The significance of the microbiome is being validated by newer research and will further gain significance in disease prevention and management
The resulting amount of data that will exist for one person, plus data from wearables, sensors and their phones, continues to pose a big challenge. Yuval Mor shared some new research of his company BeyondVerbal, demonstrating that is is possible to predict risk for coronary artery disease by analyzing voice recordings.
With new ways to analyze images, even a selfie might reveal a thing or two about our health status. Alex Zhavoronkov, who works at Insilico Medicine to apply AI and blockchain to drug discovery, biomarker development, and aging research stressed: “All data is health data.”
Robert Hariri and Peter Diamandis gave an extensive overview on the status of stem cell therapies — another biotechnology which will sooner than later disrupt treatment of health conditions; but will also have tremendous impact on longevity: “I want you to die as old as possible as young as possible.”
Living up to the conference’s spirit, Ray Kurzweil hit the stage via beam and gave an overview of his forecasts for our future! Longevity, development of emotions in artificial intelligence and extending our neocortex seamlessly to the cloud. Some practical advice? When an audience member asked, what she, at the age of 40, could do to stay in shape for when longevity escape velocity is reached (which should be in 10–12 years according to Kurzweil), the answer was: wear a seatbelt, avoid extreme sports, keep a low glycemic index and exercise.
What’s new in diabetes before we can provide a functioning pancreas via stem cells? It’s the artificial one. Jeffrey Brewer of Bigfoot Medical illustrated in his talk how current technology is old fashioned, clunky – but also it does not work! Many closed loopers might agree it does make a difference to the curves you see in the slide to the left. 2020 is still the aspired market entry date!
The many expert talks on specific technologies were intermitted by great speakers like Daniel Kraft, John Nosta, Naveen Jain, Rasu Shrestha, Michael Gelb, … — on creative thinking, the innovative mindset and change management. In short, how to think how to put it all together in a meaningful way. This is especially important when looking at the bigger picture and health systems.
How valuable are technical innovations in care, if only a few people have access to them? There is still much to be done in bringing equality to health care. Gloria Wilder, street doctor in New York, spoke about social determinants of health, prevention and that it’s time to end social segregation.
In general, we should shift our approach to by moving from “disease management” to “health care”, focusing on prevention and enabling healthy lifestyles from a system and infrastructure perspective.
Idea Crafting in the Innovation Lab
Our MedAngel booth was set next to Deloitte in the Innovation Lab, where 55 companies displayed their products, concepts and services, all innovations for health care.
Drones to deliver test kits and medicine to remote areas, robot patient companions, sensors, wearables and several virtual reality demos, ranging from a way to see more dimensions in MRI images to immersive experiences for pain management, … The hall was buzzing with chatter and people interacting with technologies on display. A great chance to bounce off ideas with health care professionals, creative thinkers and innovators!
One of the companies highlighted during the conference with a MEDy-Award is Nextbiotics. The biotech is working on much needed new approaches to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Genetic sequencing and CRISPR techniques are widely available and scalable. In the future, we might have our drug-resistant infections treated with engineered viruses, which then either program the bugs to die or take away their resistance to antibiotics.
Another MEDy-award, for convergence, went to Cloud Dx, who offer a suite of solutions for hospitals with a focus of integrating various technologies in a feasible way and connecting existing tech with innovations.
Technology is not the Bottleneck
Talking about integration of new technologies: While in San Diego, I also got the chance to join a visit to an innovative medical center, Viewridge Medical Office. It is planned to be the innovative prototype for similar changes among the managed care provider Kaiser Permanente’s facilities.
It took 10 years of planning and all employees had to be a pretend-patient once, until the patient journey was perfectly mapped out.
Although it was a modern building, we did not see any new technologies such as virtual reality or robots here.
What made it innovative was the radical integration of some core technologies: digital registration system with a web-interface for patients; electronic health records and designated rooms and equipment for video consults.
Still, it took tremendous effort to integrate these innovations with meaning for patients, doctors and all employees. It also took a lot of convincing, nudging and enforcing these changes.
These impressions highlighted something I heard multiple times over the conference: “Technology is not the bottleneck”.
As our friend and supporter since the early days, Joris Arts, says:
“I am tired of seeing innovations not introduced because they don’t apply to 100% of the patients, are not 100% integrated and not 100% reimbursed-just do it!”
Innovation is also about being open and willing to experiment with how we can leverage exponentially advancing technology to achieve a meaningful impact.
The Art of Connection
Change always takes an effort. But with technology, there are also concerns of taking away from human interaction. Rasu Shrestha summed it up in his talk “Innovation done well should make technology invisible.”
A recurring theme during the conference was the importance of empathy, the “human touch” and “presence” — something that is often made harder by ubiquitous technology and screens, but also can be facilitated by them.
In the innovation lab, KlickHealth showed an augmented reality demo that simulates living with Parkinson’s.
Jen Brea shared her personal story of becoming sick and living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in her movie ‘Unrest’. The touching and fascinating film features many people who Brea connected with online. A newly found community that enabled her to connect and share experiences, during times she was homebound.
At conference signup, everyone was handed a copy of Michael Gelb’s book ‘The art of connection’ about the importance of relationship building and “real human connections” in business and every aspect of life. Exponential Medicine is definitely doing a great job at facilitating making connections.
It was great to connect with the many makers and hackers at the conference, who are shaping innovation right now. Anna Young founded a platform for nurses and doctors to share their self-built medical devices and hospital equipment. Chad Ruffin, the first congenitally deaf surgeon in the US, who hacked his own cochlear implant with self taught electric engineering skills to enhance his hearing experience. The list goes on and on!
Among this general attitude of enthusiasm to solve the problems at hand, you can’t help but leaving from this conference optimistic and energized to take on challenges! Remember:
Looking back on four intense and inspiring days!
Thanks again to Deloitte, VvAA and Rockstart for this incredible opportunity!
I can only recommend to browse the xMed sessions and catch up on some of the exceptional talks!
All live streams are available for free here: https://exponential.singularityu.org/medicine/livestream2017/