400 people, 91 speakers, 11 580 (+55%) tweets, 1 million steps.
Over two sun-filled days at Paris’ Cité Internationale Universitaire, Doctors 2.0 2014 provided a state-of-the-digital health nation by some of the world’s leading voices in healthcare social media. A choice of more than 20 parallel sessions called for tough decisions, while Day 2’s plenary left attendees inspired with the sheer scale of potential for the future of health – miniature robots in your bloodstream anyone? A RL meeting of online minds lent the event a feeling of intimacy – and as the only digital health conference where patients are included, each fascinating perspective of our digital health future usually came back to where it all begins, with the patient.
MedCrunch brings you our pick of the trends and highlights.
“The Internet of things” New Connectedness/Integration
With 26 billion devices by 2020 according to Gartner research,, “integration” was a conference buzzword. How to get these devices to talk to one another? On her whistle-stop tour of the digital health explosion, the inspirational conference organiser Denise Silber, of Basil Strategies singled out integration as a foremost trend. “Healthcare is part of a world of innovation, which is moving towards a future where everything is connected.” Take Bellabeat – a pregnancy tracking and foetal monitoring device in-one so future dad can hear baby over the phone or Respir@dom, a connected CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) use of a serious game to explain sleep apnea – as the height of integration.
What to wear?
From the get-go, it was clear wearable technology is coming into its own. Attendees sported smart watches -iHealth activity trackers- for a conference-wide walking challenge, Google Glass explorers demonstrated the device’s use in surgery while the plenary session name-checked cutting-edge wearable tech –from the Zephyr Bio-Patch heart rate monitor to Interaxon’s Muse, the brain-sensing headband. For Dr. Marlies Schijven –a pioneering Google Glass surgeon at Amsterdam Medical Center, the device “Gets technology out of the way.” Working as an instant translation tool, Google Glass displays a patient’s medical records when the doctor enters the patient’s room, thereby transforming the typical head-in-computer consultation into eye-to-(Google)-eye contact with the patient. “It doesn’t make you smarter,” Schijven said. “You don’t become a better surgeon, but it makes you a better doctor because you’ve got more time.”
Medicine’s place in the future? Your home.
With 80% of the 1 billion U.S. office visits a year not requiring touch – according to Dr. Rafael Grossmann, the first surgeon to conduct an operation using Google Glass, this growth in health devices has the potential to empower patients to manage their conditions at home. Patient uses for Google Glass, for instance, could be as diverse as enabling sufferers of dementia, Parkinsons or Alzheimers – to stay at home longer – to providing an early warning system – detecting eye movements – in epilepsy sufferers. In another truly futuristic example of the trend, Silber described Cue’s Lab in a box: a fully integrated home-testing laboratory at a molecular level which promises “the most information about your body ever available outside a lab.”
The Game is on
Even before the fascinating insight that young students’ brain activity during class most closely matches that while watching TV –thank you Jurrian van Rijswijk of Games for Health Europe– gaming had moved up the digital health agenda to take on a whole new level of importance. “We should be introducing gaming principles into everything we do, otherwise solutions aren’t going to be used by people,” Silber urged. Top players included: Funny Friends, a super-hero adventure to take the ‘boring’ out of respiratory therapy for children with cystic fibrosis- – a co-creation between Spain’s Hospital San Juan de Dios, Omada and Icnita. The hospital’s Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia also described the success of FitBit, incentivizing exercise in obese children by giving them and their parents a tracking device, to foster competition and set targets like walking the equivalent of to Paris and back. And one the kid in everyone, Relive, an adrenalin-rushed first person 3-D adventure to train people in CPR will be launched in Italy in October. With Games for Health Europe’s announcement of a 30 million euro budget to invest in Applied Games projects –the games are just beginning.
The Tech giants are coming
Headlined by Apple’s partnership with the Mayo Clinic for its’ Healthkit, growing Big Tech involvement in digital health: from Google’s acquisition of all the Artificial Intelligence Companies – and its smart contact lens – to the future Samsung Galaxy S5 Voice of Body and Facebook’s acquisition of virtual reality firm Oculus: has the power to make healthcare sexy. “Sickness isn’t sexy” pointed out Uwe Diegel of iHealth Labs. “To have a company like Apple coming in is cool.”
Big data: “Sunlight is the best antiseptic”
Stop squandering data was the message from Mark Davies, European Medical Director for MedeAnalytics – formerly director at the NHS –naming data as the NHS’s most valuable resource after its staff. “Can the NHS afford to open up its data?” asked e-patient and blogger extraordinaire Michael Seres. “I don’t think it can afford to carry on without it,” was Davies response. Given the escalating cost of healthcare, “the effective use of linked data around outcomes – will save lives. If it’s something as important as healthcare, people should be able to see what’s going on. Sunlight is the best antiseptic.”
The power of the patient story
Demonstrating that “patient-themed” conversations drove the most tweets at the 2013 edition of Doctors 2.0, Thomas Lee and Audun Utengen of Symplur showed “there are no stories more powerful than those told by patients.” And powerful stories were heard. From Francesca Fedeli and Roerto D’Angelo’s inspiring talk on helping pediatric stroke survivors after their own son’s stroke, to Vanessa Carter, moderator of HCSMSA –and an advocate for people with facial difference to Christine Bienvenu who set up two patient communities – for women with breast cancer and Asperger Syndrome after her eldest son was diagnosed.
Imagine a story can save a life
“In 2014, the information age, innocent people are dying because of a lack of information.” With that opener, Dr Luc Colemont of Stop Colon Cancer outlined how 95% of colon cancer is curable if detected early. The colon’s status as not the most attractive organ – turns this type of cancer into a silent killer. His social media mega hit – a happy 50th birthday, now get tested message to Brad Pitt – grew from 314 supporters to reach 1.251851 million people via Thunderclap with ultimately an estimated 5.4 million people learning about the easy home early detection test. “By sharing knowledge, we can save lives.”
If you’re managing a community, let the community do the talking
Thibault Guymard of MSD France/Merck Univadis gave a fascinating overview into Comuniti, a pilot Facebook-like site for French physicians, while GE Healthcare is working on its own digital community. Jamie Tripp Utitis, an e-patient whose post-MS diagnosis blogging landed her the job as a pharma community manager in 97 countries advised future community managers that “Patients are smarter than we give them credit for. They’re prudent in their choice of information. They know what’s valuable and what isn’t.” Her advice to anyone starting a community: “Let the patients lead. Wait for the patients to show you what they need, and they will.”
Not just any old content
Dismissing the threat from a network like Comuniti arriving in China, because “they can’t remember the URL,” Tiantian Li of China’s biggest health network DXY, warned “You can buy content, but it’s not necessarily good content.” DXY partnered with the likes of IPSOS and McKinsey and capitalized on the popularity of China’s Twitter Weibo and WeChat to reach doctors even in rural areas, to reach 3.5 million members including 1.2 million clinicians. Health content, advised Colemont should be FOCUSed: Friendly, Original, Credible, Useful and Serious.”
How to partner is our challenge.
In a sobering reminder that the patient as partner has been on healthcare’s agenda for more than a decade, Dr. Tessa Richards, of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed a BMJ cover entitled “Embracing partnership,” published back in 1999. Speaking as a patient from a country which doesn’t give patients access to their own health records, Richards called for new thinking and a new approach to medical education to help doctors, who stop listening on average 11 seconds into the consultation, to make the tough transition “from Gods to guides.” Meanwhile, the theme of partnership was explored across the disciplines: would pharma companies collaborate with each other to work with hospitals?
Most health apps aren’t used.
Finding out that many in the audience have more than 10 health Apps on their phones and don’t use most of them, Erik van der Zilden and Erich Taubert of Synappz Medical Apps, announced their solution – Papps, a personalized patient-specific medical app.
Privacy is ever at-risk
A patient advocate questioned the right of Carenity, France’s patient community to use patients verbatim – the site’s small print informs users it will do so. The first question to Blabla Doctor’s Jacques Durand plan to introduce photo-sharing on his Indonesia-based free online consultation service was: “What about privacy?” While one suggested future use for Google Glass to check on patient compliance lent the device an unsavoury new spying potential.
“Nobody is prepared for what’s coming next”
Not the doctors, nor the patients, nor the policymakers according to Dr. Bertalan Mesko who provided a glimpse into an at-once exciting and terrifying future, from miniature robots capable of releasing oxygen into blood in an emergency to a 3-D printer for organs. From Tellspec a tool to analyse food for calories and toxins to Withings, a DNA analysis to assess the chance of Diabetes 2, lung cancer or Crohn’s disease. Genomic data. The key is to integrate technology AND the human touch. “Whenever I use online channels, I am never alone. When every doctor can say that. That’s the biggest innovation for medicine.” And in a vote for Europe, Dr. Homero Rivas, of Stanford Medical School said Innovation happens outside the U.S. “We are more risk averse.”
The Start-up Winner: Medivizor
From a 7 competitor line-up including an e-cigarette to track and ultimately reduce your smoking – to a second opinion service for patients in Germany uncertain of their primary diagnosis, Medivizor – a bespoke information service providing the latest research updates, took home first prize in Doctors 2.0 Start-up competition. Ceo Tal Givoly designed the service to help people diagnosed with serious illnesses to get current and relevant information. “If you’re told you have breast cancer, you become a chronic web researcher. You type breast cancer into google, you get 135 million results. How does that help you? You don’t know what’s relevant, what’s current. It’s overwhelming.” Aiming to be “the voice of sanity,” Medivizor provides personalized health information – including The fine print – an analysis of potential research shortcomings or bias – and includes a “share with my doctor” feature.