Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Gordon Engineering Leadership Center's Think Tank on Digital Health

This year, the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center held its annual Think Tank on the Future of Digital Health on Friday May 15th and Saturday May 16th. The goal of the Think Tank was to bring together students, industry professionals, healthcare workers, and faculty to discuss the problems in medicine and how technology can make an impact. This year’s Think Tank was a success with approximately 50 researchers, faculty, industry experts and graduate students in attendance working on current challenges at the intersection of medicine and technology.

CEO of Cambridge Life Sciences, Dr. Cleland Landolt, MD kicked off the event as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Landolt’s talk was titled “Digital Diagnostics – Identify the Killer You Never Saw Coming”. His background as a cardiac surgeon and experience in the biotechnology industry gave unique perspective into how new diagnostic technology detecting metabolic indicators could make a significant difference in predicting onset of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Landolt emphasized that while statistics developed via “Big Data” and diagnostics are interesting, focus has to be on making statistics clinically useful and applied in a preventive model of healthcare.

Following Dr. Landolt’s talk, Gioia Messinger, MS, MBA, gave insight on the intersection of engineering and technology commercialization in healthcare. Messinger is a serial entrepreneur, who has served as Chief Judge of Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, Founder/CEO of MedSmart, and participated in the development of the endoscopic PillCam.. In her talk titled “Why Digital Health, Now!”, Messinger introduced the audience to trends in entrepreneurship, funding, and startup companies while highlighting key characteristics of companies that caused them to succeed.

Dr. Jacob Aptekar, PhD, CEO/Co-founder of Helynx, introduced the audience to the world of Electronic Health Records (EHR). In his talk “Data Driven Medicine in the EHR Age”, Dr. Aptekar spoke about how his company utilizes the data available in hospitals to effectively visualize trends that are clinically actionable, making an immediate impact on patients’ lives. Dr. Aptekar also described his journey of how he combined his medical and graduate education at UCLA to start an entrepreneurial venture, giving sound advice to all the students in the audience who were interested in pursuing a startup in the healthcare space.

Dr. Daniel Calac. MD, finished off the morning session with his talk “Hacking the Rez”. Dr. Calac serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Indian Health Council, where he actively treats the Native American population. As a practicing physician embedded in an underserved community, Dr. Calac educated the participants on the challenges, the mentality, and lack of resources available to these communities. At the same time, he also posed a framework to innovate so that many of the talented participants in the room could develop ideas still being cognizant of the cultural and financial sensitivities.

After lunch, UC San Diego alum Dr. Wilson To, PhD highlighted how to impact patients personally and on a population level in his talk “Innovation Across the Healthcare Spectrum.” Dr. To emphasized how the healthcare system today is ripe for destruction, and explained why the business model of medicine is changing and how do we holistically allocate resources to the right patients and ultimately improve clinical outcomes. Dr. To argued how it is important not only to utilize analytics and data, but also programs that keep the patients engaged with their own health.

Next, Moxie Center for Student Entrepreneurship Executive Director Dr. Jay Kunin, PhD moderated the Future of Digital Health panel consisting of Dr. Cleland Landolt, Dr. Wilson To, and Dr. Rob Matthews, PhD. An experienced engineer, Dr. Matthews has worked in the industry at large companies and startups is currently starting companies focused on health technology. The panel focused on answering questions regarding three different topics: Remote Monitoring, Big Data Analytics, and Lifestyle Medicine.

Following the panel, the participants received informational material on these topics in order to form teams and brainstorm potential solutions to the affected areas in healthcare. Great discussions began at this point and were continued the following day.

Nursing Innovation Leader at Kaiser Permanente Dr. Dan Weberg, PhD, RN finished off Friday with his talk titled “Imaging Care Anywhere: Future of Healthcare Technology.” Dr. Weberg focused on innovation within Kaiser Permanente and how emerging technology is evaluated and tested in clinical situations. As the final speaker of the day, he gave key advice for product developers on how to integrate within the healthcare system, keeping in mind the electronic systems and the workflow.

Gordon Engineering Leadership Center Executive Director Dr. Ebonee Williams PhD and von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center Executive Director Dr. Rosibel Ochoa PhD welcomed participants back on Saturday with a quick recap of Friday’s talks and an introduction of the day’s first speaker, Dr. Erik Viirre, MD, PhD. A UCSD Professor and Director of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, Dr. Viirre gave a phenomenal overview of the XPRIZE competitions and in particular how people can be empowered to change healthcare. He emphasized how the competition evaluates the devices not only based on functionality but also consumer appeal and understandability.

Next up, Dr. Royan Kamyar, MD, MBA, CEO of OWaves, explained his insight into the intersection of lifestyle medicine and entrepreneurship in this talk “New Vitals Signs and Opportunities in Mobile Health”. He emphasized how lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, and social connections are essential to living healthy. Dr. Kamyar now wants to empower patients with his app-based company OWaves which offers a method to track the time spent in various lifestyle facets.

After Dr. Kamyar’s talk, the participants split into three groups in order to tackling the issues in remote monitoring, big data analytics, and lifestyle medicine. The group focusing on lifestyle medicine came up with an idea to create a financially or academically motivated incentive system within university targeted at both undergraduate and graduate students. The Big Data Analytics team came up with a solution to use analytics to triage students with mental health issues in university settings. The remote monitoring group presented a solution to use a single lead EKG to monitor patients at risk for health failure. Dr. Mike Krupp, PhD, a Business and Technology Advisor to the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center, moderated the presentations.

Dr. Todd Coleman, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioengineering finished the day off with his talk titled “Three Paintbrushes.” Dr. Coleman spoke about utilizing technology, analytics, and medicine together to make a real-world impact. He focuses on wearable, unobtrusive technologies paired with clever machine learning algorithms as well as direct patient engagement in underserved communities.

Overall, the event had great speaker and participant engagement and fulfilled its goal of sharing different industries’ perspectives on healthcare.

Article by Neil Gandhi

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