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Keynote Embracing Innovation and Disruption

Keynote speaker Daniel Kraft, Faculty Chair for Medicine at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think-tank which he cofounded a decade ago, focused his presentation on the need for healthcare systems to embrace and utilize disruptive and innovative technologies. He said that systems can seem somewhat stuck in the past, operating a model “sick care” instead of “health care.” Data is being gathered on patients, but it tends to be intermittent and episodic, which creates a reactive system “where we wait for the patient to show up with a heart attack or a stroke.” Moving forward, the goal is to have more “precision care,” one where prescription drugs, for example, are effective for most of the patients who take them, not just some. It also means prioritizing wellness, prevention, and early diagnosis, and making therapies less expensive and more widely available.

The key is not to focus on one specific innovation but rather to “connect the dots” between the many innovations already out there, he said. Digital technologies embedded in smartphones are empowering consumers to compare prices and outcomes for healthcare services, such the care they receive at hospitals and clinics. Smartphones have become healthcare devices in of themselves, creating a new lens for accessing information and doing diagnostics. “The data from these devices and tools are exploding in volume but are still often very siloed and not shared” with clinicians trained to make use of it, he said. Ensuring quality care is a huge challenge, Kraft noted, citing a recent Lancet study that found five million people die each year due to lack of good care as opposed to lack of any care.

“You want to be ubering yourself before you become kodaked.”

In this world with ripe with technological disruption, “you want to be ubering yourself before you become kodaked,” he said, meaning it is important to integrate useful new technologies and not ignore them. Pivotal to ensuring this is a sharing of knowledge across sectors and regions: “How do we cross-fertilize and learn what might have worked in Bangladesh that can be applied to Miami?” In addition, it is essential to advance beyond the “quantified self” where various apps collate interesting datasets like how many steps you take per day, to “quantified health” where the datasets are used to measure and optimize health, do early diagnostics, and manage disease. Healthcare needs something equivalent to the “check engine light” visible on cars, where a wearable device predicts if a patient is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. In addition, it can use “digital coaches” that nudge consumers toward the kinds of behaviors that lead to optimal health.

The key is not to focus on one specific innovation but rather to "connect the dots" between the many innovations already out there.

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