Our last day here in sunny California began with the last “Patient Included” talk by the original Executive Producer of the FutureMed program, Robin Farmanfarmian. Robin delved into her personal account becoming the CEO of her own health management in the face of an autoimmune disease while posing some questions to the audience. Will the data enabled patient stress or un-stress the provider? How can we streamline the approval process for life saving innovations? While innovations are on their way, how can you change your behavior today? Robin closed with the charge, “become the disruptor, not the disrupted.”
Not all attendees at Exponential Medicine this year are here in person. While some are listening in over live stream, others have been given the unique opportunity to attend the conference through mobile video conferencing robots by Sustainable Technologies. The Beam robots allow individuals to not only listen to the sessions but to physically move around the conference space and, to a limited degree, interact with other attendees. Our next speaker, known for finding creative ways to be present at SU events, gave his presentation from a Beam robot. Co-Founder and Chancellor of SU, intellectual Ray Kurzweil remotely joined us at Exponential Medicine for a broad discussion of the future. Ray began with a short introduction touching on some of his current work including a project he’s involved with at MIT that has identified cancer stem cells based on antigens on cell surfaces. Already, the team working on the project has found promising drugs that can kill these cancer stem cells and are showing promise for future therapies. Dr. Daniel Kraft then facilitated a Q&A with Ray. During the session, Ray announced plans to write a sequel, “The Singularity is Nearer,” to his 2005 nonfiction book on AI.
Next on stage was Marc Goodman, SU’s Faculty Chair for Policy, Law & Ethics, to speak about The Dark Side of Technology. Putting a sobering tone on discussions of big data that have largely been the focus of this event, Marc made the point that the more data is produced and kept, the more data will be stolen. A poignant statistic from Marc’s presentation is that compared to normal identity theft which nets a criminal $2,000 per individual, medical identity theft is worth $20,000 per patient. Besides the financial incentive, hackers are targeting healthcare because, unfortunately, it’s still fairly easy. Medical cybercrime has increased 600% in the first ten months of 2014. There are even companies, mostly in other countries, offering CaaS (crime as a service) which provide hacking software and services complete with customer support and service agreements. The same concerns exist in AI and robotics which are all similarly connected technologies that can be broken into and exploited. Despite all this, Marc is not a proponent of curbing the rate of innovation, but rather putting more thought and effort into data security and enforcement. Some security suggestions from the expert include: using different passwords on every website, always using a VPN to connect to public networks, encrypting your data, implement open source intelligence programs, and avoiding putting unnecessarily important information online.
In contrast to Marc’s talk, the last session of Exponential Medicine looked to “The Bright Side of Technology”. We first heard from Tony Young, entrepreneur and Director of Medical Innovation at the Postgraduate Medical Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, about efforts in the UK’s National Health System. One compelling insight from Tony’s talk came out of the System Demonstrator Project, the world’s largest trial of telehealth. Initially, the project showed a 44% reduction in mortality, 20% reduction in emergency admissions, and a 14% reduction in bed days. However, after a couple years, these outcomes stopped becoming statistically relevant. The study found that more remote management tools led to increased social isolation. This experience highlights the need to design technology with social inclusion in mind.
Tony was followed by Dr. David Bray, the CIO of the FCC to speak about technology policy and the role of change agents. He sees opportunities by getting the public involved to inform health policy through the data they collect and make available. On the question of ethics, David took the stance that “technology is amoral. It’s how we humans decide to use it that determines if it does good or evil.”
Closing the session was Dr. Michael GIllam, a physician entrepreneur and Director of the Microsoft Healthcare Innovation Lab. Michael discussed the idea of a health data card that captures information and data throughout the continuum of a patient’s healthcare from PCPs to specialists, and brings it all into one place that is under the control of the patient. The idea is in line with what Michael sees as a Copernican shift from the facility as the center of the healthcare data universe to the patient. Facilities will no longer go to each other but to the patient to get patient data.
The final talk of Exponential Medicine was delivered by Salim Ismail, the founding Executive Director of SU and author of Exponential Organizations, who gave an overview of all the exponential ideas we’ve heard about over the last four days. Looking at the landscape of innovation at large, Salim believes there is a need to rearchitect all systems, not just healthcare, to meet new needs, new incentives, and new challenges.
Dr. Daniel Kraft and Will Weisman returned to the stage to formally close the event with an announcement that Exponential Medicine 2015 will be again held at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. SU hopes to have half of the event next year populated by individuals who have never attended Exponential Medicine or FutureMed before, so look out for your opportunity to take part in four days of stimulating discussions, valuable connections, and exponential opportunities.
Previous days’ coverage: Exponential Medicine Day 1: Preparing to Reinvent Health & Medicine…; Exponential Medicine Day 2: Big Data Everywhere…; Exponential Medicine Day 3: Scientific Discovery and Startup Innovation…