Takeaways from The #DigitalHealth Conference 2013


I recently attended and moderated at my first Digital Health Conference in New York, hosted by the New York e Health Collaborative. I was impressed with the quality of the speakers but more impressed with how this year, in my view, truly signals the implementation of digital health technologies we have long discussed as technology of the future.

1.    Analytics are the key to the power of Big Data.  Much has been said about Big data. However, Big Data is as useless without good analytics is as weather data is without forecasting models. The keynote speech by Kaiser’s George Halvorson was powerful.  He provided examples of how analytics (retrospective and more so real-time) are powerful in both formulating hypotheses and providing answers needed to drive better patient outcomes. It was the emphasis on outcomes which mesmerized me as a physician and a proponent of the use of digital technology to solve real clinical problems.

2.    Interoperability was addressed at multiple sessions. In one session, standards for interoperability were discussed by speakers from the ONC as well as commercial entities. Representatives from The North Shore-LIJ Health system discussed how interoperability is utilized to facilitate continuity of quality care across different areas (pre-natal, labor and delivery, and post-delivery) in another. Interoperability was also a focus of an excellent session entitled “Freeing the Data: Driving Value from Using Clinical, Claims, and Device Data”, moderated by Dr. Deborah Estrin. The importance of interoperability was highlighted at a session which I moderated as well, “Mobile Health Technology: The Future is Now.” Another big session focused on interoperability as a key component of care coordination where patient hand-offs and care coordination planning were discussed.  It was made clear (and comforting to me) from the conference that interoperability is no longer seen as a luxury but an integral part in the projected success of digital health technology.

3.    Tools of the future were discussed.  The development and potential use for Google Glass and 3D printing in healthcare were artfully presented by early adopters and developers. The enthusiasm of early adopters was infectious and palpable in the crowded rooms.

4.  Presentations relating to the patient perspective made me proud to be a part of the faculty of this conference.  Sessions on the Blue Button Initiative (direct patient access to data) and patient portals from leading experts in the public and private sectors were informative and inspiring.  It is my hope that all healthcare conferences (including professional society meetings) include patient perspectives. Shared decision-making will necessitate such collaborative collective learning.

5.   The role of digital technologies in producing better patient outcomes via new care models was highlighted in a couple of sessions. The value of the use of digital tech by Medicaid patients and their providers and how IT will be critical to ACOs were discussed.  The importance of IT as an engine of efficient and cost-reducing new care models cannot be overstated. Patient and disease tracking, individualized medicine, and patient safety hang in the balance.

I am glad that we are finally talking about how digital heath technology is not a separate silo in the healthcare ecosystem. Not only is it an integral part of the fabric of all silos, but it signals the dissolution of many silos themselves. Patient care is now seen as a continuum with the weight shifting from institutions to the home and from physicians to other providers, heralding the importance of shared decision-making and highlighting the role of the caregiver. I look forward to contributing to other pivotal conferences, namely mHealth Summit 2013 and HIMSS 2014 as well. Bring it on!

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About davidleescher

David Lee Scher, MD is Director at DLS HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, LLC, which specializes in helping digital health technology companies, their partners and clients. As a former cardiac electrophysiologist and pioneer adopter of remote patient monitoring, he is uniquely qualified to address both clinical and operational concerns of clients. Scher was Chair of Happtique's Blue Ribbon Panel which established standards for certification of medical apps in the categories of safety, operability, privacy, and content. He is a well-respected expert in mobile and other digital health technologies and lectures worldwide on technology and its impact on patients and healthcare systems.
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7 Responses to Takeaways from The #DigitalHealth Conference 2013

  1. Arlen Meyers says:

    One of the rules of Othercare: use new business models incorporating digital health technologies. If only the regulators, lawyers and payers would understand

    • Thanks for your comment, Arlen. The government is on board and fully endorse new care models which incorporate digital tech. It is the premise of ACOs and HITECH. It is the regulations which get in the way of the way in whihc the technology is adopted. In addition, interoperability, as discussed in the post is critical and the responsibility for this is as much the commercial sector’s as it is the regulators’.

      • All the stakeholders have creasted barriers to adoption and penetration: industry has not created a complete , usable solution, regulators have created rules that lag technology, lawyers create liability risks, doctors are willilng or unable to change how they practice, patients have unrealistic expectations and are unwilling to assume responsibility for their health, and payers won’t pay for change that is effective.

      • All true to some extent. Stakeholders must come together to solve these problems. Politics and finances, as usual come into the mix which are the biggest obstacles.

      • I’m tired of hearing about the possibilities. Let’s focus on the solutions and get them done. For example,
        1. A federal telemedicine reform act that creates a national medical license
        2. Mandatory telemedicine payment parity
        3. Innovation and entrepreneurship medical education reform
        4. Industy standards for integration and UX/UI for medical records
        5. Broadband expansion throughout the US to close the digital health divide
        6. A digital health clinical trials infrastructure
        7. Support for all forms of practice, included physician owned practices
        8. VA healthcare outsourcing and reform
        9. Creation of entrepreneurial medical schools and AMCs
        10. Recruting, training and retaining entrepreneurs to lead healthcare, not managers

  2. Kevin Jones says:

    Sounds like a great conference. Re: your point: “The importance of IT as an engine of efficient and cost-reducing new care models cannot be overstated.” I couldn’t agree more. Once incentives are aligned (like is happening with ACOs), it’s possible to reduce cost AND improve outcomes using proven care models enabled by modern IT. Data interoperability enables best of breed technology to be assembled to need.

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