March 16, 2019

The Big Apple and Healthcare: Building with Digital Bricks

Events
Chandana Fitzgerald

They say when you leave New York you ain’t going anywhere. Sadly enough, with a heavy heart, team HealthXL had to fly back to Ireland right after our Global Gathering on the 14th of March. But, we brought with us memories and learnings of a fantastic event, and we’re right on time for St. Patrick’s Day! Just Irish things.

Event Report & Attendees

Digital Therapeutics (DTx) - The Discussion Needs to Go On

In the months leading up to the Global Gathering in NYC with Northwell Health, we spent a good deal of time exploring themes and topics that we wanted to bring to discussion and honed in on two very immersive and juicy ones. Following the activity in 2018 focused on Digital Therapeutics (DTx), including preliminary discussions at our gatherings in London and Menlo Park, our big fat Digital Therapeutics Report and Analysis released in Dec 2018, we couldn’t not talk about DTx.

Megan Coder from the DTx Alliance set the scene and really drilled home a solid understanding of what a DTx is and is not, and how the Alliance are helping shape some standards that DTx should meet.

Bill Zeruld, Otsuka and Todd Thompson, Proteus tag-teamed on the next talk, and spoke of their partnership. As one of the front-runners in the digital medicines space, having been through ideation, regulatory milestones (or hurdles, if you will), piloting/ execution, culture differences between corporate and start-up, there are interesting observations and learnings to take home from the Otsuka- Proteus partnership without a doubt.

What followed was an engaging panel discussion led by Everett Crosland from AppliedVR with Megan, Bill, Todd and Brian Clancy, IQVIA and Jake Kerr from the University of Colorado. So, what did we learn? Partnering with pharma requires a growth mindset from both sides and as evidenced by Proteus and Otsuka - a long-term vision can lead to significant success; We are still crawling - the tools, frameworks, and success factors for scale are still being built and tested by our customers, our partners, our investors; We as an industry need to figure out how we rapidly validate the unique value of digital offerings (such as being able to gather real-time data). But the question remains - how do we ensure that our promises of unique value are backed up and supported by evidence in the same rapid and nearly real-time fashion.

Future of healthcare will be built on the shoulders of meaningful partnerships. It's time for them to come together.


Meet Consumers On Their Terms, Now, and Where They Are

The next session was focused on the opportunity for big tech companies in healthcare. We’ve been writing for months about this - on the pain points in the industry that we see the Amazons and Googles of the world addressing.

Sumit Nagpal from Comcast made a case for why these tech giants need to be in healthcare, and how they address the needs of the consumer who wants everything fast, affordable, and easy. Driving down costs is the biggest contribution these tech companies are going to make to healthcare because of their scale.

"Change doesn't happen if it doesn't impact cost"

David Berkowitz from Partners Healthcare spoke of the opportunities he sees (and is already using) in big tech as a pharmacist for making the right medication available to patients at the right time, track patients in real-time remotely, and get actionable data from this tracking. Through his make-believe patient Phil, he walked us through a heart failure treatment journey with help from our friends at Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Will it be successful this time around?

What ensued was a stimulating, controversial panel discussion led by David Feygin, Boston Scientific with Cris DeLuca from J&J, and Sara Holoubek of Luminary Labs. We’ve watched David before, and he was certainly in his element playing devil’s advocate, assessing the benefits and challenges of collaborations. This is the second wave for the big tech players to attempt an entry into healthcare. The team chimed in on the early indicators we have to signal that consumer tech's entrance into healthcare is working this time around, what signals will see them exit and what signals will we see them double down? Cost reduction, consumer trust in the brand, capabilities to scale, agility - these are the qualities of the tech incumbents that will make them a favorable partner in healthcare. Retail Pharma, logistics/ supply chain, new personal devices are the low hanging fruit that these tech players are best at and will steal from healthcare at the first chance.

Innovation in Northwell Health

Northwell Health’s Ventures arm is known to spark innovation and engagement among its physician entrepreneurs. Three accomplished doctors, two neurosurgeons and one ENT surgeon presented to an awe struck audience their innovations that are already helping their patients. Dr Kevin Tracey’s team has developed a bioelectrical vagus nerve stimulator, that can decrease the inflammatory processes in the bodies of people with rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, and other such conditions. This device is already helping people who are non-responders to very expensive medication achieve disease remission. Dr Peter Costatino has developed a patient identification shield, a temporary stamp that represents a modern, non-transferable, easily removable, cost-effective alternative to the ubiquitous but antiquated "hospital wrist band" for patient identification. The band is also being used beyond the hospital at concerts and amusement parks - talk about scaling! Dr David Langer was the last to take stage, but his solution touched the audience too. His company, Playback, intends to give more power to the patient through screen-capture, audio, video and other patient-specific multimedia that helps improve patient experience, satisfaction scores and clinical outcomes. Playback is already being used in the dept of Neurosurgey at Northwell Hospitals, and will expand into other departments and other hospitals in the coming years.

A Little Bit of History

Let’s talk a little bit about the venue at Lenox Hill where the Global Gathering was held. Opened in 1857, Northwell’s Lenox Hill Hospital used to be a German Hospital and Dispensary and was renamed in 1918 to its present name to distance the institution from German association post World War I. In 1897, the hospital installed one of the first X-ray machines in America. Ten years later, the hospital established the first physical therapy department in the country. In response to what was becoming a growing public health concern, it was the first general hospital in the U.S. to open a tuberculosis division. In 1973, the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma became the first hospital-based center in the nation for the study of sports medicine. It is a place of medical milestones, and was an apt venue for the session.

A stimulating day, with inspiring people. Couldn’t ask for more. It was also a day of breaking barriers and silos as clinicians and business people came together for fresh perspectives. Join us on our next Global Gathering in our home turf, Dublin, on 4th Sept 2019.