Big Ideas for Health IT from Hood, Smarr, Lazowska: Highlights of the OVP Tech Summit
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a disruption in health care, in which people will shift their thinking toward wellness. Instead of roughly saying eat less, exercise more, people will be able to quantitatively measure over time how they are doing in far greater detail than anything you can get by stepping on a bathroom scale every day.
“It will force every sector of the healthcare industry to fundamentally change their biz plan over next 10 years,” Hood said.
This change can’t happen soon enough, Lazowska said. He talked about how he rode his bicycle over to the OVP summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Seattle, and it bugs him that he can’t really get a good measurable sense of how that activity affects his health compared with, say, driving there. In other words, medicine has a long way to go before IT can start driving exponential growth like it has for other fields, Lazowska said.
“It bothers me a lot that my car is a much better instrument than I am. You can go to a mechanic and he’ll plug a diagnostic tool in, and it will tell you everything that happened in the last six months,” Lazowska said. “On the rare occasion when I visit a doctor, it starts with something like ‘Where does it hurt?”
The movement toward evidence-based medicine needs to start helping physicians translate all this data into actionable knowledge. It’s like “machine learning for medicine, telling you what works and what doesn’t work.” The way entrepreneurs could think of this, Lazowska said, is by coming up with tools to provide “cognitive assistance for physicians. There’s been surprisingly little progress in helping doctors with what they should do in a situation. There’s a huge amount of work to do there.”
Smarr used a personal anecdote to talk about the opportunity he sees in businesses that can enable a revolution in wellness. He is personally keeping track of 30-40 parameters in his blood on a regular basis, sharing the information with his doctor, and using that information to adjust the type of food he eats and exercise he does, to stay healthy. This takes a lot of time and effort now. But when nanotech advances enough to make it possible to capture that sort of data in a fingerprick of blood on a handheld device, look out. The way Smarr talks, this will be way more attractive than just asking everybody to pop the latest weight loss pill.
“The counter-revolution to obesity is centered there. People will be able to tune their bodies,” Smarr said.