FutureMed wrapped up yesterday with a half-day session on global health, connected health, a talk on intellectual property in the medical space and a debrief by the FutureMed crew. It’s been a dense five days with talks ranging from stem cells to bioinformatics. The folks at Singularity University worked hard to put together a spectacular event for us all, bringing in speakers at the edge of their fields all while keeping the setting light and informal.
The morning started with Erik Rasmussen, CEO of inSTEDD giving a look into how technology has the potential to address the confluence of global health challenges related to infections, natural disasters, climate change, and more. These compound crises are building a fragile ecosystem, are all interrelated, and are likely to get worse much quicker than they can get better. Technological, process, and systems innovations will be needed to minimize the human effect from these events. Erik’s organization inSTEDD (Innovation to Support Emergencies Diseases and Disasters) is dedicated to finding and building innovations and encouraging collaborations that improve global health and safety. inSTEDD has a full suite of medical technologies including systems that analyze streams of information, allow people to collaborate on their phone, and give people access to live geo-spatial data. One example of recent work is their disease-surveillance reporting wheel, a simple card that allows health workers to spin a wheel to the day of the month, spin another wheel to pick a disease to report, and then spin yet another to represent the number of cases of a condition. The output from the wheel is a nine-digit code that workers can simply text to an inSTEDD number to record the information. They’ve also used prime numbers as a sort of error correction – if people type in the numbers incorrectly, they’ll get a message asking them to double check the input.
Erik also highlighted a few pieces of technology he thinks are particularly useful for global health challenges, including inexpensive nitric oxide eluting bandages that could be used to treat parasitic Leishmaniasis lesions, which can take months to heal on their own and can leave behind horrible scarring. Another promising innovation are cellulosic nanofibers that might soon be used for water purification.
Up next was Andy Kogelnik from the Open Medicine Institute, a translational research institute dedicated to advancing medicine by conducting collaborations and research initiatives in areas such as data integration, building better patient portals, and trying out clinical processes such as direct to patient sample collection (through the mail). During his talk he made an interesting note that he’s yet to see a single HL7 implementation done the same way. For the non-health IT folks, HL7 is the data standard that has for a long time promised, but not yet delivered, seamless data transfer between health IT systems. Andy is working on problems like these at his institute.
After Andy, IP lawyer Brad Pedersen spoke of shifts in the intellectual property landscape both inside and outside of medicine. In all likelihood, patent reform is coming this year and it’s looking like there will be some large changes in the way intellectual property is handled by the US. One shift, for example, is that rights will soon be assigned to the first to file a patent rather than the first to invent. Other trends such as getting IP insurance in order to pay for lawsuits in the event of infringement are getting increasingly popular as well.
And that marked the end of FutureMed. As a final good-bye, the organizers and leaders of Singularity University came up on stage to get our feedback to improve the next FutureMed and lead a final conversation about our individual companies, jobs, and industries, and how we think they will be altered by exponential technologies.
After the close, we hung around a bit to talk and say goodbye. Overall, FutureMed was stellar. We were thrilled and honored to play our part in recapping the event. Thank you Singularity University for putting on the show and letting us join in on the fun.