The first full day at FutureMed began with a talk by famed futurist and Singularity University founder Ray Kurzweil. He video conferenced in from Boston to give his talk on creating a mind and repeated some of his insights into how the neocortex works, with multiple levels of pattern recognizers.
Daniel Kraft then returned to introduce the Chief Medical Information Officer at Kaiser Permanent, Dr. John Mattison, but preceded that with a retrospectively-hilarious Kaiser advertisement about the “Hospital of the Future” from the 1950s. While some of the innovations described in the video continue to be ideals, like integrated and coordinated healthcare teams, others such as allowing people to smoke “in comfort” while in the waiting room have clearly fallen out of fashion. Mattison then characteristically began his talk with a series of questions to understand the audience, after which he launched into a presentation filled with insights and predictions ranging from democratized health to the quantified self movement.
He was then followed by Stanford physician Christopher Longhurst, who gave a similar-though-updated presentation on his work on making electronic medical record systems more intelligent. He ended with the question:
How do we ensure that the healthcare system learns from every patient, at every visit, every time? That’s how we move from evidence-based medicine to practice-based evidence.
Following Longhurst was Dr. Tracy Gaudet, the Director of Patient Centered Care and Clinical Transformation at the VA. Her talk, “A pivotal transformation for health care,” discussed why we need to be more proactive and patient-centered as opposed to reactive and disease-centric.
She made the interesting observation that the first step of a patient encounter is to elicit the chief complaint – meaning that we expect to only see patients when something is wrong, as opposed to trying to be more proactive.
After a short break we resumed with session four on big data and artificial intelligence in health care. Tim O’Reilly raised a number of points about the future of medical innovation, such as exploring the possibilities of human-machine symbiosis (creating systems such as Google search that work better when more people use them), designing natural and seamless human-computer interfaces, and rethinking health care workflow and experience as companies like Uber have done by designing on-demand systems.
Next up was Dr. Marty Kohn, the Chief Medical Scientist at IBM Research, who expanded on his February talk about big data in health care by using the Watson computer as a case study. Last up was the Director of Stratefix, Ari Caroline, who made the argument that we need to transition from “data miners” to “lamplighters” – that is, people who are capable of finding the patterns in the data to answer the questions that will actually turn data into value.
Following lunch the delegates divided into separate rooms for workshops on topics such as the “Future of Healthcare-IT,” “3D Printing,” and “Biotechnology and DIY Bio.” These were great opportunities to do a deep dive on topics that were of particular interest, as well as to meet like-minded delegates in a smaller setting.
Session five began with an energetic talk by FutureMed producer Robin Farmanfarmaian, who gave a personal anecdote of her teenage years suffering from an autoimmune condition and not feeling like an empowered patient. She encouraged patients to be the “CEOs of their own health care teams” and ended with a few questions to be ruminated on:
- Will data-enabled patients stress or un-stress health care providers?
- What can be done to streamline the approval process so life-saving innovations actually make it to market?
- If you’re the CEO of your own health care team, how are you going to change your behavior today?
The next speaker was UCSD Professor Larry Smarr, “The Most Measured Man in the World,” who gave a brief overview and update on his impressive quantified self efforts. He began session six, which was focused on mobile, connected health & body computing and featured short talks and demos from CellScope, Sotera, Google Glass-based companies, and the Smartphone Physical. We were particularly intrigued by the presentations from Qualcomm’s VP Don Jones (as readers likely know, Qualcomm has been making large investments in health technologies) as well as the talk on the future of imaging.
Session seven on personalized medicine featured perhaps the most diverse set of speakers: an author and quantified self-advocate, David Ewing Duncan; a Harvard geneticist leading the Personal Genome Project, George Church; and an angel investor, Esther Dyson. Dyson, who is known for her activity in the health care space, focused her talk on a low-tech and community-building initiative which she started called the Health Intervention Coordinating Council, or HICCup. She describes it as a “self-appointed counseling service aimed at persuading local institutions to embrace a long-term perspective and launch a full-scale intervention in their communities.”
The last speaker of the day was UCSF physician and preventive medicine expert, Dr. Dean Ornish. This author first met Ornish at the February FutureMed and reflected on the apparent mismatch between the cutting edge, high-tech conference and the decidedly low-tech, lifestyle-oriented Ornish. The doctor gave a refreshing speech on the importance of focusing on preventative and integrative health, and while he lauded the conference’s role in promoting cutting-edge technologies he advised that we pause to ensure we aren’t missing the low-hanging fruit.
It was an excellent second day at FutureMed. Stay tuned for updates on the various start-ups and exhibitors at the conference as well
Editor’s note: Reporting contributed by Michael Batista, Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins University
Previous coverage: FutureMed Day 1: ‘FutureMed’ Is Out, ‘Exponential Medicine’ Is In
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