Recently MedCrunch attended the incredible Pioneers Festival, a startup & tech event hosted in our hometown of Vienna, Austria. The Festival was conceived by the amazing crew behind STARTEurope which curated an unparalleled experience, extending the world of technology and internet startups to a much broader audience.
At the Pioneers Festival we met up with Dr. Daniel Kraft , Executive Director of FutureMed at the Singularity University, who was invited to give a talk about “hacking the human body” and to share some of his thoughts on the future of health. MedCrunch was granted access to Dr. Kraft for a unique interview which was engaging and thoughtful. Our conversation took on a life of it’s own and yielded some surprising insights. The following is Part 1 of our interview: (Transcription below)
MedCrunch: Which life experiences have helped shape your perspective on medicine?
Daniel Kraft: It hasn’t been any one life experience, but I have been across several from the worlds at the NIH (National Institutes of Health), to standard academia at Brown, Harvard and Stanford; to a bit of the Internet Start-up World, during the bubble; to medical device engineering as well as the mix I have been lucky to get into with folks from the TED World and beyond. Also being involved in Aviation and the Military [has been an experience shaping my perspective on medicine]. So, I think part of it is bringing perspectives from other worlds and other people in healthcare where traditionally often physicians end up (sort of) in one little, or one relatively constrained clinical bucket and get their (sort of) blinders on to what is happening in other fields where potential cross-fertilizations are. [I am aware] this is a gross generalization. I think I have been fortunate to sort of live at cross-currents and to see some other models from other realms, and hopefully [I am able to] be a good connecter and hopefully a creative thinker to help put things together and synergize convergence when it is possible.
MedCrunch: Medicine inherently tends to be somewhat complex, there is a lot of information, a lot of data, and physicians in general tend to specialize. You are not the prototypical physician, you have a specialization (as an oncologist) but yet you are not bound to that particular mind-map or mental model; [rather] you are looking at cross-pollination of different ideas. I think that this what is important.
How would you encourage physicians who feel stagnant within their own field? What could they do to get this spark [that you have] and look at medicine innovatively?
Daniel Kraft: Well, I think […] we can leverage our friends and colleagues; It could be your friendly neighbour who happens to be an application software developer, or gamer. It can be a clinician colleague (from another specialty) that you [normally] refer patients to; [where you discuss the state of the art in your respective fields over a casual lunch] and discuss for example: ‘What is the cutting edge in what you are doing? What are the challenges you have in radiology that I don’t see in my world of dermatology, or oncology? I think often in the clinical subspecialties and even in academics, we tend to go to our own academic meetings and be surrounded by [other like minded people] and there are less (sort of) mix-it-up type meetings.
Some things which are simple things to do [to bring people together from different backgrounds and specialities] to bring [different] conferences together, to have brown-bag lunches, [to host] unconferences.
Our interview was interrupted by a surprise visitor who joined into our conversation and shared some amazing news. Stay tuned for Part 2 of a MedCrunch exclusive!