On June the 30th, I organized a Connected Event in partnership with EPFL, Foundation Campus Biotech and the Economic Promotion of Geneva on the topic of Connected Health. The objectives were firstly to share knowledge amongst the rich ecosystem and secondly to stimulate new projects in our Romandie “Health Valley”.
In today’s article, I want to share some of my learnings in the following three areas:
- Wearables, the rise of bio-sensing technology
- Patient 2.0, informed and demanding patients
- Smart data, health data is pervasive
Wearables: focusing on solving big issues
We are moving from “fitness wearables” to “medical wearables”. Two challenges appear by moving into that area:
- So far, medical devices have been made for use by doctors. Therefore, to succeed as a consumer medical device, the product must be easy to use without the need of reading a full user manual
- Reliable data needs standards and regulations in order to bring confidence to consumers and doctors
A very promising startup in that field is Leman Micro Devices (LMD) based at the Innovation Park of EPFL: LMD is developing a sensor integrated into a smartphone that measures blood pressure. They already have a working prototype and target mass production in 2017.
Why to start with blood pressure ?
Even though the lack of any physical activity is causing 5.4% of all deaths, hyper tension is equal to even 16.2% of all deaths according to UK’s National Health Service. Therefore, the ability to monitor your blood pressure on regular basis using your mobile phone will enable to reduce that risk by taking preventive action on time.
Nowadays, medical doctors cannot anymore disregard the fact that patients are using digital technology to look after their health. This change is driven by:
- Internet: 80% of patients are nowadays looking for medical advice on the internet
- Telemedicine: A company like Medgate in Switzerland has more than 1 million video and phone teleconsultations per year
- New affordable diagnostic tools: Many tools which were only available in clinic are now moving to the hand of the patient directly. For example, you can get a dermatoscope for couple of hundred Euro online and perform your own melanoma detection
The appearance of this new generation of wearable devices is also an opportunity for hospitals to reduce the level of rehospitalization by monitoring the patient recovery phase at home. Patients might also be able to return home quicker. A company like Domosafety initially developed solutions to enable elderly people to stay longer at home. They are now working closely with hospitals to apply their solution for patients returning home after a surgery.
Smart Data: for a predictive or even preventive medicine
Advances of DNA sequencing technology is making data driven medicine a reality, however, in order to get the full potential:
- Value is created if all the information is being shared in a secured and privacy controlled way: Predictive and preventive medicine can only be achieved, if we can run an analysis on a large set of data
- A very promising field is oncology, but since we need the collection of a lot of data, who is going to finance the sequencing of the DNA?
Furthermore, working with the human genome leads to a lot of ethical questions, impacting also the patient-doctor relationship: Doctors might have to handle the fact that they can predict a disease, but not necessarily yet propose a prevention therapy.
I also want to mention the great potential of digital epidemiology: Digital traces created by individuals on internet includes a lot of epidemiologically relevant behaviors such as reporting disease symptoms. This new approach will support health organization to monitor how infections are spreading.
Finally, to make all the above happening and hopefully leading to an improved quality of life as well as higher efficiency in our health system, interdisciplinary teams should be created, which is one of the goal of the health 2030 initiative. Moving forward, as being involved in Smart Data innovation, I am going to look particularly at how fast we can take advantage of all these pervasive health data, who is going to master it, if traditional players can transform themselves successfully and what will the role of the internet/mobile companies will be.
Link: Presentation of the Connected event, 30th of June, Campus Biotech Geneva.