2018 Digital Health Panel: Is Digital Health at an Inflection Point?

A packed session in the Colonial Room at the J.P.Morgan Healthcare Conference heard a panel of scientists, investors and entrepreneurs moderated by Lloyd B.Minor M.D., Dean, Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Stanford University School of Medicine (we hope to add panel members’ names later), discuss the emerging technology of digital health. The interest appeared much greater than in previous year maybe because IT, cellular capabilities  and software has moved  to a stage that makes advances more feasible for development. The healthcare system is exploding with information and data that must be integrated but the tools are slow to keep pace except in large hospital and medical group IT systems.

Members of the panel thought that maybe one reason a major product has not been introduced was because :  a “physician inventor” type or retired “wealthy google type” did not have an interdisciplinary team with expanded capabilities to bring a product to market.

About $35B has been invested in early stage start-ups over the past 5 years but progress has been slow.

Here are some takeaways from the session:

  • There is a need to bring all the sources of healthcare and disease information together to empower the consumer/patient.
  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes should be the initial focus but all data sources such as epidemiology, test results and therapies cannot be easily integrated.
  • The objective is to empower patients with new tools to bring commitment and engagement but not necessarily result in behavioral change which would be difficult.
  • EHR (electronic health records) are becoming widely used but can be time-consuming and a tough task for primary care physicians. Primary care physicians are overloaded with admin tasks.But how do you get data out of the EHR for diseases analysis ?
  • Interpretation of real-time test results from medical devices can be simplified and made more accurate with advanced software such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Applications mentioned were EKGs, diabetic retinopathy, and imaging data.
  • Many other applications come to mind where “direct to consumer” testing and feedback can be executed and cardio-apps on a cellular device are already in development.
  • An application that has been suggested from other sources is for “wellness” that could focus consumers on individual health issues.

Panelists: Sundeep Bhan
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Prognos

Jessica L. Mega, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer, Verily Life Sciences

Hemant Taneja
Managing Director, General Catalyst

Glen Tullman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Livongo

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