Innovators at Interface Summit Forecast Paradigm Shift in Personalization of Tech and Healthcare

Innovators in digital healthcare assembled at Sanotron’s third annual Interface Summit at Vancouver Convention Centre to wrap up the last couple of days of September and to connect technology leaps to global wellness.

A collective voice from many influential speakers addressed a strong demand for practicality in digital health innovations. No longer are stakeholders, practitioners and patients looking for “cool,” “complex” gadgets—they are looking for devices and treatment that “empower” people in all markets and wellness to take better care of themselves.

One area of technology worth highlighting is the design aspect. According to Dr. David Dunne of Rotman School of Business, in digital healthcare designers need to understand three key aspects in order to enhance the user’s experience and achieve the desired outcome: reframing the problem, understanding the user and the context and making is the way of thinking.

“Doctors are empathetic about diseases, they know what diseases and the effects are,” said Dr. Dunne. “I would argue that doctors’ empathy is about the effects, while designers’ empathy is about the experience.”

For chronic diseases, such as diabetes, patients don’t approach therapy and treatment as the “centre of their life.” People get disconnected with the treatment they have, so it is critical that digital healthcare—in order to be effective—must approach treatment through the user’s lifestyle.

Which leads us to the revolving-door-pharmaceutical experience, something we’re all familiar with. After all, approximately 600,000 Canadians visit a pharmacy in a day. We drop out and pick up with little to no information acquired. We take the daily dose as prescribed and cross our fingers, no questions asked. In an aging demographic, it becomes ever more important that doctors, pharmacists and the patients themselves participate in both the monitoring of health and the follow-up stages to ensure that the treatment is performing as planned.

Pharmacist and UBC grad Aaron Sihota believes the dispensary transaction-based paradigm has to change: “I heard a lot today about telehealth and telemedicine, but not too much about telepharmacy. There is huge potential. Take for example the clinic model; you can have the pharmacy work alongside the prescriber to identify safe and effective therapy. Once that’s been done, the person can just fire it off to a vending machine, where a technician can dispense it or that machine can automatically dispense it and do a live feed counseling. So it’s a completely different practice model. I don’t envision it taking over mainstream dispensary, but definitely working alongside it.”

Moreover, much of pharmaceutical medicine is trial and error, an ancient method that has lasted to this day. In a world where automobiles are tested repeatedly before hitting the showroom and airplanes are soaring 35,000 feet in the sky, it’s hard to accept that doctors and pharmacist are still playing the guessing game with our wellbeing. It seems that only technology can change that, and all that will start with experts from different fields joining hands.

“We have to understand that as much as we have to think about the cause, the solution is very important,” said Ali Tehrani, Zymeworks, “and that is the marriage of high-tech and bio-tech.”

Ultimately, changing one aspect will affect another. In the case of global health, there is much to be done in developing countries. If affordable treatments are a problem here in our industrialized world, it is seemingly impossible for those in third worlds. Digital healthcare should not, and cannot, be exclusive to the rich. Therefore, business models need to change along with the technology created.

“There is a view that you can only deal with these problems in developing worlds by having the money endlessly poured in by Gates Foundation or Grand Challenges Canada,” said Loki Jorgenson, LionsGate Technologies, “and it’ll simply be something the market will never be interested in. And so what we have defined as our mission is to make that market work; it’s a business innovation. How do we make money going into developing worlds? And make a lot of money saving those lives? The reason they die and continue to die is because the market is never interested. Why not?”

Digital healthcare is making significant strides, but there are still many leagues to go, a fact proven by all the paradigm shifts suggested at Interface Summit. If a product, a treatment or a solution wants to succeed and help people in the digital health space then it must be guided by those in need of it. After all, the coolest technologies are the one that saves lives.

Interface 2013 Hosts Top Innovative Companies Changing the Landscape of Digital Health

Formerly published in Techvibes. 

Michael Bidu, CEO of Sanotron opened the second annual event on October 9 and 10 in hopes of creating a dialogue around the ever-changing landscape of digital health—an idea that effects every person in the modern world.

But what is digital health?

“In simple terms,” a video presented at Interface 2013 explains, “digital health is the convergence of digital and genetic revolution of health and healthcare. The essential elements include wireless devices, hardware sensors and software sensing technologies, microprocessors and integrated circuits, the Internet, social networking, mobile and body area network, health information technology, genomics and personal genetic information.”

Top innovators across the continent highlighted the two-day event by showcasing their apps, wearables, concepts, and other progressive products to the crowd at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Some of the notable companies making moves towards the future of digital health are:

 

AYOGO

An app that enables users to control their own healthcare lifestyle through an interactive game.

“We believe that the classic ‘play’ is the most important quality of the human being,” said Michael Fergusson, founder and CEO of Ayogo Health. “It differentiates us from most other creatures in the world. Human beings have used play throughout history to explore our world, to learn new skills, to contact and communicate with each other.”

Ayogo is applying that concept into the monotonous chore of managing our health needs. The largest healthcare problem in the world is that patients aren’t applying what they know to take better care of themselves. Hyperbolic discounting causes people not to see the impact of each decision they make. But by incorporating all the requirements for healthy living into a game, patients will feel more engage to take their medicine, interact with others coping with the same health condition and see improvements in their lives.

 

FATIGUE SCIENCE

The Readiband is a wearable device that tracks sleep patterns and fatigue levels to enhance healthy living.

“We don’t believe wearable technology should be about the calories you burn or the steps you take, the floors you hike or amount of hours you entered into a log, saying ‘I’ve slept six or seven hours last night,’” said Sean Kerklann, CEO of Fatigue Science. “It’s all about making wearable technology more valuable to you as an end user. To make you achieve the results you want to achieve or to avoid the risk of what fatigue can cause.”

The Readiband data logs the quality and the hours of sleep an individual has and uses an algorithm to measure the sleep debt. Using the information gathered, the user will be able to see when his peak performance hours are, as well as his moments of impairments due to fatigue. Pilots, truck drivers, professional athletes and normal every day people can all benefit from understanding their sleep patterns.

 

BIOBEATS

An application that helps us understand our vital signs by generating music with our heart beat.

Although Nadeem Kassam, co-founder of BioBeats, was unable to attend the event, the promotional video BioBeats presented gave a glance at the possibilities at our fingertips—it’s close to science fiction.

“David [Plans, co-founder of BioBeats] sent me the application from London,” said Kassam on the video, “I put my finger on the back of the camera—I can see the waveform of my heart. And he sonified my heartbeat through a bass. And for the first time I listened to the bass kick of my heart. Just that was moving—and then he turned it into jungle UK house music. And I had no reaction, but to dance. I jumped for joy and as I jumped for joy my heart rate accelerated…and I watched it, the music accelerated.”

 

MEDEO

The health platform’s first feature is video conferencing, which allows the circle of care to collaborate online to assess your needs. That means no more procrastinating about going to see the doctor, no more flipping through magazines in the waiting room and no more agonizing trips back and forth from specialist to physician to pharmacist.

“The doctors tell us that between 30% to 50% of all of the visits they do right now in their office can be done by video,” said Ryan Wilson, CEO of Medeo Corp. “Imagine what percentage of the visit can be done by Telehealth once we have all these incredible sensors in the medicine cabinet at home.”

The world is constantly evolving for better and worst, but with new innovations geared toward our health and the advancement of technology—we hope to be approaching a solution and distancing ourselves from the problems.