World Medical Innovation Forum – COVID-19, AI, and the future of Medicine

This was one of most impressive virtual events that I’ve participated in over the last period. There were more than 11,000 attendees from 93 countries, 46 states, and 3200 organizations. I feel certain that communities were established surrounding many pressing topics, which will continue long into the future. World Medical Innovation Forum was established to reaffirm the importance of collaborative innovation— academia, industry, and government working together to create solutions to some of medicine’s greatest challenges.

Most impressive was that all of this was done without flying to Boston, and even though the event went into the late hours of the night here in Israel, I enjoyed the sessions during the next days during the times that worked for me. I like this way of learning new things!

I would like to focus on some interesting topics that stood out to me.

Technology Solutions Now and in the Future

During the panel, the following questions were discussed: What technology categories are most important? What tools are healthcare organizations, biopharmaceutical companies, and other organizations leveraging to battle this crisis? How will those tools evolve? And, importantly, how can technology inform the medical response to future pandemics? What were the biggest technology surprises during the current Coronavirus response?

Again, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are more questions than answers. The forum was represented by clinicians, researchers, and industry professionals.

The technology-focused categories were the most important and made for interesting discussions:

From clinician’s perspective, the sharing of information, mass notification, mass information, data management without manual intervention solutions bring added value to the current situation and must stay with us in the future. Features like testing over mobile devices, data transformation, and testing accessibility are great advantages.

From a research perspective, platform trials – for clinical trials simulations, drugs development principles, technological innovations simulations, and an integration of data from different sources are currently the most pressing issues.

Monitoring tools, such as connected thermometers, pulse oximeters, or any other wearable tool that communicates to one central database can provide better monitoring, and slow the spread of the disease.

But with all technological progress, there are risks that much be considers, such as how to use contract tracing via private cell phones without encroaching in individual privacies? It was no surprise that the answer varied depending on constrains integration of medical, economy, and privacy.

The complexity that comes with new technologies requires the coordination of many technical and operational pieces in order to create the solution we need in the time we need it.

When learning from this period on Micro (patient) and Macro (echo-system) levels, we have to rely on AI, in order to properly collect all the data and understand what we are given in order to make relevant decisions.

Digital Health Becomes a Pillar: Tools, Payment and Data

Why is that significant? How and why did it happen? What are the essential tools and components? How is the electronic health record and other health data contributing to this digital movement? Are there novel use cases for telehealth that arose during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic? How can digital technologies help enable a full return to work? Thinking ahead to the fall and a possible second wave, are there things we should be doing today to ensure this technology to better detect and profile a resurgence and enhance the patient benefit?

Deployed in the crucible of the Coronavirus pandemic, digital health has now become an essential pillar in the delivery of care. The COVID-19 outbreak has provided a sort of perfect storm to accelerate digital health adaption and use.

So, the historical perspective of the digital health over the past five or so years.

·       Boosting and innovating: what are the digital health models and technologies that were augmented and developed as a result of the crisis?

o  Virtual solutions for clinical problems, consultations between clinical specialists to themselves and to patients

o  Physical separation of patients and clinical providers

o  Monitoring tools for ambulatory and remote monitoring

o  Look for concerning trends and intervene early before deterioration began

o  Automation, like heath-bots, getting information out through interactive voice response

o  Years-years of work happen in a matter of weeks

·       Preparation: how would we need to digitally upscale all of these activities?

o  Very fast adaptation

o  Making changes and decisions on the fly

o  Technology innovations rapidly deployment

o  Relationship with different providers, industry, clinics and institutions

·       Risks of individual health care providers, with upscaling what are the risks around things like reimbursement and the regulatory concerns and equity

o  Reimbursement is a huge issue. We can lose the praised digital health innovations because of the reimbursement issues.

o  We have to learn from the experience of the telemedicine and digital health during the Covid-19 crisis and adopt it for the future

o  Sustainability of the key features of the digital health and telemedicine

·       Assumptions and adaptations that have happened over the last couple of months

o  Older people wouldn’t accommodate to video medicine or language barriers will be the problem. We found it as wrong assumption

The Role of AI & Big Data in Fighting COVID-19

AI is a key weapon used to fight COVID-19. What are the biggest successes so far? Which applications show the most promise for the future? Can it help allow for a mass return to work? Can AI help predict and even prevent the next global health care crisis?

A significant silver lining amid this crisis, is the willingness for stakeholders to share and collaborate on what would otherwise be proprietary information. Even Apple and Google, two bitter rivals, are developing a common API for data collection.

Big Tech and Digital Health

Tech giants are dedicating their vast resources to aid in the global response to the Coronavirus. This panel highlighted how the big data and computational power of major tech companies is being deployed to help contain the current pandemic through new technologies and services, enable return to work, and how it could help prevent future ones.

IT was an amazing forum conference, allowing the sharing of knowledge about COVID-19’s new reality and new opportunities.

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