Posts Tagged Digital Health

Disruptive Innovation on Boundaries of Disciplines – TiEcon tracks & Discount Code


Are you still playing inside the boundaries of disciplines?  Play on the boundaries, instead.  There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation on the boundaries of disciplines.  All industries are impacted and transformed by the increasing interconnectedness with technological advances in IoT, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning and more.  This transformation is most apparent in  heavily regulated and somewhat slower to change industries like, “Oil and Gas” and “Healthcare”.  Any industry that worked in a silo before is likely to leap forward into the new age.   These areas are likely to experience most disruptive innovation and are  brimming with opportunities for entrepreneurs thinking outside the discipline boundaries.

Oil & Gas industry is on the verge of major transformation.  Entrepreneurs with industry specific innovations to enhance operational efficiency and minimize negative environmental impact, will score big.  Most recent environmental concerns have been around the impact of fracking or hydraulic fracturing, a process by which water and sand mixture is pumped deep below the earth’s surface, into earth’s dense shale rock formations.  Fracking produces many long narrow fractures in the rock formation and helps convert organic matter embedded within the rock to synthetic oil and gas.  It has vastly improved oil production.  It is estimated that what can be produced by a vertical well in 30 to 35 years, can be done in a horizontal well, in as short a span as 6 months.  However, recent studies indicate that fracking has led to an increase in seismic activity.  Thus far the activity was minimal but it has now been growing in both strength and number, with increase in fracking.  Many Oil and Gas companies have established innovation centers in Silicon Valley to assess and garner technological help to expedite learning about environmental impact and explore if technology might help intervene to minimize negative impact, in addition to enhancing operational efficiency. 

Healhcare has also emerged as the most attractive area, pulling in major investment dollars.  Internet of things, for instance, will help bring in focus, the prospect of connected health.  As increasingly incentives are tied to preventative medicine, providers will look for opportunities for seamless, integrated care.   Cloud and big data will enhance the possibility to learn from collective knowledge, access wisdom of the crowd, and enhance quality of health with lesser investment of resources.  Big pharmaceutical companies and biotech will look to utilizing technology in bringing therapies to market, with minimal wastage of resources and dollars.  Opportunities exist to transform the process of drug development http://bit.ly/1xzpdFx& http://bit.ly/14pkhRO , to digital health advances enabling early identification and treatment of diseases http://bit.ly/11MlM9e , to even better monitoring of medical adherence.  While reimbursement is increasingly emerging as a major challenge, insurance providers will look for disruptive, and long term, cost saving innovations.

TiEcon 2015, largest entrepreneurship conference, taking place at Santa Clara Convention Center on May 15 and 16, will feature these new tracks on healthcare http://bit.ly/1OOCV9Z and oil and gas http://bit.ly/1HqQkoc, in addition to featuring companies and speakers making waves in Data Economy, Internet of Things, and Cloud Security tracks.

Register for TiEcon and come and play on the boundaries of disciplines; jump from track to track, network with multi-track participants, angels, VCs, and learn and get inspired.  TiEcon will take place at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA on May 15 and 16.  Register through this link  https://www.123signup.com/register?id=ygszb&ref=4182698 to get a $100 discount on the two-day conference at the non-member rate.  When prompted, enter the promo code VOL500 at checkout.

PS –  I am looking to fill a number of full time and contract engineering opportunities in mechanical, quality, software, electrical, firmware engineering in CA & TX.  Details are posted in JOBS category at www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com .   Some of my full time opportunities are very exciting with a huge potential upside and truly disruptive technology.  Resumes can be sent to wd_darshana at hotmail dot com

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Healthcare Track Preview at TiEcon 2015


Healthcare industry is poised to go through impressive transformation, in the coming decade.  What some experts have dubbed a 3D transformation, changes in life sciences are happening through massive changes in Diagnostics, Digital Devices, and Data.

English: USNS COMFORT (Feb. 15, 2010) Maj. Tom...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider this.  TiEcon, the largest entrepreneurship conference, focused for several years on computing, storage, hardware, software, firmware, semi conductors, gaming and mobile technologies.  HealthTech was not the focus at TiEcon.  But HeathTech has recently emerged as one of the hottest areas to invest. Besides offering a special healthcare focused track, on day 2, May 16th, healthtech is integrally woven in most of the other tracks, at TiEcon 2015.  Technology has impacted all areas of our lives such that no entrepreneur could look at any industry as a silo.  To register go to https://www.123signup.com/register?id=ygszb&ref=4182698 to get a $100 discount on the two-day conference at the non-member rate.  When prompted, enter the promo code VOL500 at checkout:

In fact, most of the disruptive innovation is happening on the boundaries of disciplines.  This is most pertinent in life science, hospitals and healthcare, healthtech, biotech, pharma, drug development, medtech, digital health, mobile health, wearables space.  Every new intersection point between health and an emerging technology, brings its own terminology.  Collectively, the aim is to positively transform the quality of lives of healthy and sick people.  So how is life science focus woven across several tracks at TiEcon?

John Kapoor, a serial entrepreneur, who is number 577 on Forbes Billionaire List, is going to give a grand keynote address on day 2, Saturday.  Kapoor, whose net worth is estimated at $3.5B, has founded and guided two pharmaceutical companies, Insys Therapeutics and Akorn Pharmaceuticals and led them to exceptional success.  Pharmaceutical industry is slowly but surely changing to innovate faster, cheaper, more cost efficient process of drug development.  Here is link to my recent blog on novel approaches to drug development http://bit.ly/1xzpdFx .

English: South façade of the White House, the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is another interesting keynote to watch out for.  After helping coin the term, “Data Scientist”, while still in the academia, D. J. Patil did some initial work on deciphering the complexity of the weather patterns and impact of bioweapons proliferation in Central Asia.  Here is link to my blog on Patil in 2013 http://bit.ly/YYyOxd .  After stints in eBay, PayPal and LinkedIn, Patil was appointed by President Obama, as Chief Data Scientist at the White House. Among other responsibilities, Patil will work on the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, focusing on utilizing advances in data to enable clinicians select most effective treatments.  Here IBM’s Watson, an artificial intelligence system with access to millions and millions of pages of structured and unstructured data, to help in efficient diagnosis and suggest possible avenues for treatment, deserves special mention.  Here is my link to Dave Farucci’s keynote at TiEcon, several years ago http://bit.ly/JOZmwH .

Besides the keynotes and healthcare representation on panels in other tracks, Day 2 focused Healthcare track panels will address such varied topics as role of “Medical Devices in a Changing Landscape” and “Trials and Tribulations of Adopting Technology in Hospitals”.  Eminent speakers include, MD and CEO at Good Samaritan Hospital, Paul Beaupre;  Anupam Pathak, Founder & CEO of Lift Labs, acquired by Google X, Brett Knappe, Senior Director of Strategy at Medtronic; Satnam Alag, VP, Software, Illumina; and Darius Naigamwalla, President at Campbell Alliance.  Representation from technology rich companies such as IBM, GE, Google X, and Tibco, in discussions on healthcare, along with medtech and big pharma companies like Medtronic, J&J, 23&me, Illumina and Genentech AND representation from healthcare providers like Good Sam, will make for very rich dialogue.  Register for TiEcon at https://www.123signup.com/register?id=ygszb&ref=4182698 to get a $100 discount on the two-day conference at the non-member rate.  When prompted, enter the promo code VOL500 at checkout:

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Tackling Global Health – (Kim Bush, Gates Foundation) Keynote Preview at EPPICon 2015


With Obamacare, the discussion about national health has moved to front and center stage.  But what about the status of global health; what are the opportunities and challenges?   Just about a decade ago, availability of resources was the biggest problem in the arena of global health.  But with the rise in public and private giving, to a large part due to unprecedented giving by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, the challenge has now shifted to better coordination of resources for “equitable, inclusive & sustainable solutions”.  According to Council on Foreign Affairs, “for the first time in history, the world is poised to spend enormous resources to conquer the diseases of the poor”.

Logo da fundação Bill & Melinda Gates

Logo da fundação Bill & Melinda Gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Kim C. Bush, director of Life Sciences Partnerships at Gates Foundation, is leading the efforts to broaden and deepen the foundation’s engagement and partnership initiatives with various healthcare industry sectors.  With an objective to address the critical global health challenges with speed and effectiveness, the foundation is bringing in the industry in this dialog, in a systemic manner.  The goal of the Gates foundation is to match global health priorities with the industry capabilities.  

Kim Bush will be giving a keynote address at 2015 EPPIC Annual Conference, on March 28th at Santa Clara Convention Center.   Entrepreneurs in life science arena, committed to solving some of the major health challenges of our times, may get big insights into where the gaps and the glaring problems are, as well as where the resources are being channeled.

Lineup of speakers on all panels at EPPIcon 2015, is very exciting, with plenty of networking opportunities thrown in.  Here is a link to the preview of one of the panels on Digital Health – http://bit.ly/1EQtd5y .  No doubt, connected, digital health will also play a prime role in advancing global health.  Come and participate in the dialog, network with like minded professionals in Silicon Valley, and hear from key opinion leaders, angel and VC investors and other industry leaders.  Early bird registration will expire at midnight today, March, 16.  Register today at www.eppicglobal.org .

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Also a plug for http://www.healthtechnologyforum.com 2015 annual conference on May 27 and 28 in Burlingame, CA. Early bird pricing will be effective till March, 31.  Panels include Innovations for the Underserved, Resilient Communities, Population Health Management, and the conference has a dedicated focus on making a positive difference and transforming health globally.  Register soon for an opportunity to hear great speakers and network with professionals committed to making a difference.

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Digital Health Panel Preview – EPPICon 2015


EPPIC annual conference is on March, 28 and early bird pricing will end on Monday, March 16.  Here is a sneak peek at one of the panels.  

Technology is impacting health in interesting ways and many exciting innovations in digital health are expected to change how diseases are tracked, reduce inefficiency in healthcare delivery, reduce costs, improve access to healthcare, increase quality, save resources, and make medicine more personalized.  Digital health panel at EPPICon 2015 has diverse and interesting lineup of speakers.

wpid-20150304_162558.jpgDr. David Persing, EVP, CMO, and CTO at Cepheid, had made an early resolve to have a positive impact on the world.  Guided by intellectual curiosity, while doing his pre-med, he discovered “the power of diagnostics”.  The company’s mission at Cepheid is to use the power of molecular diagnostics such that it would enable medical providers to identify and treat diseases early, increasing opportunities to improve patients’ survival and quality of life. Their cloud based platform, “The Digital Miasma” for monitoring of emerging infections earlier, is just launched and is in the implementation phase.

wpid-20150304_163547.jpgPanelist Deborah Profit is Director of Corporate Projects – Global Clinical & Business Operations for Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization.   OPC, is headquartered in Tokyo and is known for popular sports drink Pocari Sweat and energy drink Oronamin C.  OPC also developed Abilify, an approved drug treatment for certain mental illnesses, and as of 2013, annual sales of Abilify were over $8 billion a year, making it the highest grossing drug worldwide.  You would wonder what has that to do with digital health, until you consider the fact that patient non-compliance is one of the biggest challenges in many illnesses but specifically in mental illnesses.  Otsuka has recently made a deal with Proteus Digital Health for tracking medical adherence.  Proteus system includes sensor-enabled pills that embed intelligence into the pills so that their ingestion can be precisely tracked.  Personally, I am totally against drugs for mental illnesses, many of which do not work as expected; placebo effects are not well identified, clinical studies are often sponsored by drug companies and the list of side effects is daunting and being a psychologist, having seen side effects and heard them being discussed by my colleagues, I have developed absolute disgust for drugs for mental disorders.

Proteus “ingestible sensor” technology however, holds enormous promise for various indications, specifically for treatment and management of chronic conditions.  Otsuka plans to make use of Proteus Digital Health’s feedback system in its clinical R&D, presumably for its oncology products.

The next panelist, Dr. Marsha Rose Gillentine is Director of Biotechnology/ Chemical Group at Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox, LLP and has intimate knowledge and understanding of patent litigation strategy in small molecules, ploymorphs, chemical synthesis, pharmaceutical formulations, methods of treatment, drug delivery devices, animal models, vaccines, polymers and more.  Her experience encompasses working with clients to implement lifecycle management strategies, specifically at it relates to personalized medicine patent portfolios.

Members of the Paris Medical Faculty (1904) An...

Members of the Paris Medical Faculty (1904) André Chantemesse (1851–1919) Georges Pouchet (1833–1894) Paul Poirier (1853–1907) Georges Dieulafoy (1839–1911) Georges Maurice Debove (1845–1920) Paul Brouardel (1837–1906) Samuel Pozzi (1846–1918) Paul Jules Tillaux (1834–1904) Georges Hayem (1841–1933) Victor Cornil (1837–1908) Paul Berger (1845–1908) Jean Casimir Félix Guyon (1831–1920) Pierre-Emile Launois (1856–1914) Adolphe Pinard (1844–1934) Pierre-Constant Budin (1846–1907) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jared Heyman is founder and CEO of CrowdMed, a brilliant innovative site that takes connected health to a whole new plane.  Often individuals afflicted with rare or neglected diseases, go from doctor to doctor, from pillar to post, just to accurate diagnosis and then they face whole set of new challenges for treatment.  CrowdMed is seeking to solve most challenging medical cases, worldwide, with speed and accuracy online, by harnessing the collective wisdom of the crowd.

The Digital Health Panel at EPPICon 2015, will be an exciting panel.  Agenda for the entire day looks very interesting and there will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to network and mingle with like-minded professionals.  The conference is on Saturday, March 28th at Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, CA.  Early bird pricing has been extended till March, 16.  Please register for the event at the link http://tinyurl.com/o4cj3ow or from www.eppicglobal.org .

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Digital Health Trailblazers – event preview of upcoming EPPICGLOBAL event


US healthcare and healthcare globally,  faces some major challenges in the form of cost containment, effective coordination of care, and battling the spread of chronic diseases.  Can digital health give us leverage and tools for addressing these challenges?  At next EPPIC (www.eppicglobal.org) event, two innovative leaders in digital health, will share their perspectives.

Michelle Longmire is founder of Medable, a cloud platform that provides HIPAA compliant services to mobile and web applications.  Developers can build applications that communicate securely with Medable’s cloud platform using the Medable API.  Medable services are hosted on scalable, fault tolerant platform system.

Michelle Longmire is a physician-scientist, with a background in image analysis and processing and holds patents in machine learning as applied to medical diagnostics.  Currently she is training in dermatology at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Anoo Nathan is Founder and CEO of Smart Montior, a device designed to provide monitoring and tracking solutions for people with chronic health conditions.  Blending sensor, mobile, and cloud technologies with big data analytics, Smart Monitor offers solutions that enhance safety and autonomy for people with chronic conditions.

Anoo Nathan is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded 2 companies, taking them from inception to profitability to exit and is an inventor on several patents.

The event will be at Lowenstein Sandler, LLP, 390 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301, on October 7 at 6pm.  Price for EPPIC members is $10 and for non members is $20.  Register for this event at www.eppicglobal.org.
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Also tomorrow, September 30th at 8:30 am CEO & Founder of Corvectra, Chris Melton will speak on “Rocket Science Meets Biotech at the Frontier of Digital Health” at http://www.bio2devicegroup.org event at 456 West Olive Avenue, Sunnyvale.  This is a free event.  Walk-ins welcome.

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John Mattison, CMO, Kaiser Permanente, will speak at #TiEcon and at #HealthTechForum  


While he has pursued a wide range of activities in health and wellness, Dr. John Mattison, Chief Medical Officer at Kaiser Permanente, in his own words, is an “accidental informatist”.  Very early in his own practice and prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, Mattison implemented electronic record system at his family practice, in 1984.  Soon thereafter, he was drafted with a mandate to advance Health Information Technology, at Kaiser, and to advance health policy at both state and federal levels.

Mattison firmly believes that integrated care is extremely important, though he concedes that achieving it is not simple.  However, if you are a member of Kaiser then this oft-quoted example may not appear farfetched, where an optometrist was able to make a life saving intervention.  Apparently a woman went to an optometrist and optometrist noticed that she was due for her mammogram and helped schedule it for the same day, and her abnormality was caught in time.  Time and again I have had similar experiences (though not as dramatic), at Kaiser, where I would go in for a physical and they notice that I am due for a mamo or pap and seamlessly it is scheduled and completed, in one visit.

Mattison believes that available technology can enable health providers to make seamless, integrated care possible, whether it is through Electronic Medical Records, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, Mobile Health Apps, or social gaming.  Mattison also firmly believes that patient engagement is the key to superior health outcomes.  (As a health services consumer, I would say that it is so much easier to be an empowered and engaged patient, when care is integrated and seamless).  Mattison’s objective is to harvest the exponential growth of knowledge about health and use it to help individuals become more engaged in their own health, and then to go a step further and engage communities in promoting health outcomes.

CrossCity Connect, Clinical Commissioning Grou...

CrossCity Connect, Clinical Commissioning Group Patient Engagement Event (Photo credit: podnosh)

Mattison is leading many innovative and exciting projects at Kaiser Permanente, with a potential to change the dialog on health.  He is also currently launching a project to transform how complex data sets including genomic, microbiomics, exposomics, socialomics, and phenomics can be transformed through visualization, into intuitive representations, that support shared decision making and enhanced patient engagement.  If any of this seems like a mouthful or too far-fetched then see below two great opportunities to hear him speak in May, 2014 at #TiEcon and at #HealthTechForum conference.

www.tiecon.org – If you are a professional  in #healthIT, #digital health,  #internetofthings, #cloud, #bigdata or related, I would say this is the conference, you don’t want to miss – It offers a fabulous opportunity to network with 3000+ professionals and listen to top notch speakers and panelists.  You can register for #TiEcon (May 16 & 17 at Santa ClaraConvention Center) at link http://tinyurl.com/kr2hkcw  as my guest & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount.

Healthtechnology Forum conference http://www.healthtechnologyforum.com, focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health, is on May 20 in SF. Please register for the conference as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.  Also check out & participate in code-a-thon on patient engagement, for May 8.  Over 20K+ in prizes.

JOBS: are posted at the link http://bit.ly/1o85CTM

 

 

 

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Rakeysh Mehra, famed Bollywood Filmmaker will speak at TiEcon 2014


Rakeysh Mehra, highly acclaimed Bollywood Filmmaker & Screenwriter, will speak at TiEcon 2014.  Have you registered?  You can register as my guest through the link http://tinyurl.com/kr2hkcw and enter code “TiEvalue” to get $100 off.

The process of filmmaking begins with a great story and then the filmmaker or the producer needs to work with the screenwriter to develop the story or screenplay they have just purchased.  Rakeysh Mehra is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, known for writing and directing such films as Rang De Basanti (he won Best Director Filmfare Award for it in 2006) and directing blockbuster “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, starring Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh, India’s legendary runner (here’s link to my review  http://bit.ly/1cUwG4o).  “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” acquired international fame and was nominated for 10 awards. Obtaining the right script and developing it into a good screenplay and then directing it into a successful film, is a highly challenging process, in the cut throat film world.  One needs to understand and develop the characters, ensure the dialogues are not lame, understand the story structure, identify the genre or the blend of genres and Mehra is brilliant, with each of the steps of filmmaking.

Delhi 6 Premiere

Delhi 6 Premiere (Photo credit: muckster)

Currently, India, the largest democracy in the world, is busy with the process of deciding its new leader.  Voting is in full swing, in India.  Mehra has been a critic of the vote bank politics and currently he is campaigning to introduce e-voting to facilitate voting by travelers.  Mehra is also deeply committed to children and the education system in India.  Regarding “Bhaag Milkha Baag”, Mehra said that to see the movie connect with children as young as six and eight, was the biggest part of his success with the movie that he is proud of.  He has criticized marks-driven, education system in India saying that it emphasizes test scores over actual learning and achievement.  Perhaps his next movie will address this issue?  The filmmaker was location hunting recently in Jodhpur, for his upcoming film.  Will there be announcements?  Mehra will give keynote address on the morning of day 2 of the conference.

See discount codes to register for TiEcon 2014, www.tiecon.org and for Health Technology Forum

www.tiecon.org – If you are a professional  in #healthIT, #digital health,  #internetofthings, #cloud, #bigdata or related, then this is the conference, you don’t want to miss – It offers a fabulous opportunity to network with 3000+ professionals and listen to top notch speakers and panelists.  Register for #TiEcon (May 16 & 17 at Santa ClaraConvention Center) as my guest, at link http://tinyurl.com/kr2hkcw  & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount.

Healthtechnology Forum conference http://www.healthtechnologyforum.com, focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health, is on May 20 in SF. Please register for the conference as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.  Also check out & participate in code-a-thon on patient engagement, for May 8.  Over 20K+ in prizes.

JOBS: are posted at the link http://bit.ly/1o85CTM

 

 

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OneMedForum – San Francisco, 2014


The OneMed forum conference was launched in January of 2008, when economy was showing all signs of progressing to new heights, with an objective to showcase innovation in medtech.  The conference aimed to bring together the companies and investors, during the large influx of healthcare investors and executives, during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, in San Franciso.  Fast forward to 2014 and we are perhaps just emerging from one of the worst recessions; a downturn that hit the medtech sector more than any other industry segment.

This year, the location of OneMed Forum was changed and the venue was moved further away from the JP Morgan Conference.  Since the weather in SF was gorgeous, it was not a problem; but if the venue continues to be further away in future, and in the event of cold and rainy weather, it can have an impact and lower the attendance at future OneMed events.  This year also OneMed event seemed to be sparsely attended, although that appearance might also be enhanced because the meeting rooms were spread out on two different floors and there wasn’t a single spill out location for the participants to meet and network – another problem with the venue.

There was also a palpable difference between the JP Morgan conference and the OneMed Forum, this year, in terms of optimism.  While biotech and pharma sector is returning to pre-recession levels with a large number of IPOs and higher numbers of dollars raised, medical technology companies have yet to see significant investment dollars.  On talking with the participants, I heard a note of disappointment regarding low attendance from VCs and other investors, just like in the last few years.

However, despite slow pickup and staggering growth in the medtech sector, it is transforming and the companies are learning to operate more efficiently.  It is also recognized that healthcare is at a critical point and medical innovation will have to address some key challenges.  Various panels and speakers at the OneMed Forum, addressed the changing healthcare landscape and how the future of health and medicine will need to be shaped, in the coming years to address the key issues. 

Major Highlights

Personalized Medicine Panel discussed the promise offered by customized diagnosis and treatments, in lowering the cost and increasing effectiveness.  Panel sessions addressing the JOBS Act and the Affordable Care Act, explored the impact of the legislation on cost of care and access to care.  Companies and solutions that may be poised to offer effective healthcare solutions and may also present interesting investment opportunities were highlighted.  In somewhat grim medtech landscape, digital health is emerging as the hottest new trend, with much potential.  The Digital Health panel discussed the impact of Affordable Care Act in increasing information transparency and empowered consumers taking greater control of their health information.  The changing role of the patients/ consumers will require change in the healthcare delivery and transformation in the business model.

A panel addressing “reimbursement strategy after the affordable care act”, discussed impact of medicare payment rules on medtech and hospital markets.  The panel also discussed trends in coverage and payment for newly emerging molecular diagnostic tests.  One key advice from the panel was that thinking upfront about the reimbursement strategy will be increasingly more important for companies with new, innovative products.  A panelist also suggested that during clinical trials, companies can also think about reimbursement and instead of doing only what may be required by the FDA, if they can also collect reimbursement data then they would come out ahead.  During innovation, the companies should relentlessly focus on disease management, and that would lead to them to appropriate and effective reimbursement strategy, advised the panel.

Financing and IPO issues were addressed in various panels.  One interesting panel on Crowdfunding discussed a handful of portals that are beginning to raise some capital for emerging growth companies.  One investor who was attending the panel, later told me, that it is too early to give an opinion on what kind of success this strategy would yield, but he had some grave concerns.    AdvaMed CEO’s Unplugged Panel featured some of top leaders of the MedTech industry, who shared their insights on key challenges facing the industry.  Stuart Randle, CEO of GI Dynamics advised startups to focus on crucial healthcare issues including obesity.  He also advise companies to pursue capital intensive strategy, and at least initially sell products outside the US.  Scott Brooks, CEO of Regenesis Biomedical, advised startups to get good legal and regulatory counsel early on.  Patrick Daly, CEO of Cohera Medical was optimistic about the future of MedTech.  “IPOs are coming back, M&A is picking up, and dollars are rolling in, big companies have record levels of cash, and I feel positive”, he said.

One of the most prolific financiers, Bill Hambrecht gave a keynote address.  Hambrecht has over 500 IPO’s to his credit that include seed level funding in nascent industries.  Although I did not attend the keynote, I heard some highly positive comments from an attendee.  Steven Burrill, who has been at the helm of innovation in healthcare and shares and who regularly shares his insights through his annual reports, gave a second keynote.  Again, I missed the address but both keynotes were major highlights of the event.  Throughout the conference, over 800 emerging companies gave presentations.  Following the presentations, partnering and breakout sessions gave the opportunity for conference delegates to meet the CEO’s of these companies.

Although it may seem hard to believe, it appears that now the MedTech sector has nowhere to go but up.  The industry has learned some hard lessons, the companies are lean, operating with greater efficiency, spending cash wisely, and instead of hawking next new technology, they are focused on key problems facing the healthcare industry, and on providing effective solutions.  If the healthcare providers are not eager to incorporate some of the solutions, then it will happen out of necessity.  It will become incumbent upon the healthcare industry to implement solutions offering greater ROI in terms of improved health and lower cost.  Healthcare providers will be looking for solutions that provide digital and point of care diagnosis and health monitoring and treatment options and solutions from personalized medicine and genomic health.  Let us stay tuned for some cool innovations from the MedTech sector in 2014.  Senior Analyst at Wells Fargo, Larry Biegelsen has also observed that not only acceleration in healthcare spending is expected in 2014 but there are number of other tailwinds including, “emerging technologies and emerging markets contributing more to growth and a more industry-friendly FDA, which should lead to faster approval times for medical devices”.   

 

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Promise & Challenges of Digital Health


Digital Health has been an emerging sector in medical device arena.  A panel at Wilson Sonsini Medical Device Conference (www.wsgr/news/medicaldevice.com) discussed the challenges and opportunities in this area.  Moderator Milena Adamian is founder and executive director of the Life Sciences Angel Network, which is focused on early-stage investing and entrepreneurial activities in medical devices and healthcare information technology arena.   Having spent 20 years in medical device development, she brings the perspective of a clinician and academic researcher and opened the panel with historical background and broad overview.  Panelists included Chilukuri Sastry, Associated Principal at McKinsey & Co., Jonathan Javitt, CEO & Vice Chairman at Telcare, Jay Silverstein, Co-founder of Oxford Health Plans, and Lisa Suennen, Co-founder and managing member of Psiolos Group.

Silverstein raised a key question, right upfront.  “Show me it works”, he said.  While there are some neat ideas and lot of hope, it is not yet backed up by reality, he said.  Sastry said, there is an evolution under way, with a focus on data interpretation from earlier focus on data accumulation.  According to Javitt, it is a matter of making a business case and applying technology, to increasing efficiency.  Suennen pointed out the shift that is happening broadly in the industry, with the entrepreneurs focusing on enabling consumers to engage in matters of their health, more cheaply.  Currently, 7 out of 10 dollars in healthcare are spent on management of chronic diseases and about 5 thousand kids with asthma, die on the way to the hospital, where there is an opportunity to make an impact, pointed out Javitt.  The challenge is to make healthcare sensing as ubiquitous as auto sensing.  Disconnected medical devices will not help transform healthcare, he said.

Silverstein pointed to the gorilla in the room, the challenge of patient engagement.  The panelists had several perspectives on dealing with this challenge.  Silverstein stressed the need to incentivize health, Javitt suggested combining healthcare with gaming.  Suennen pointed out that gaming might attract short term focus that may not have a lasting impact, as people get bored of games.  Silverstein emphasized the need for segmentation so that there can be constant communication, marketing, and efforts to engage patients with specific needs, on a continuing basis.  Sastry said, while behavior modification is challenging, the new and emerging technology will allow for better patient engagement.

Sharing advice for entrepreneurs in this sector, Silverstein suggested that they carefully pick customers and value proposition.  They should not claim to be good for payer, investor, physician, but instead find a niche.  Suennen said, right now it is too easy to start a company in this area; all they need is an iPhone and a starbucks card; but failure is also fast.  A big lesson, observed Javitt, is that a lot of great ideas are poorly marketed and poorly packaged and do not take into account that an average consumer needs 3+ touches, to be noticed.  Sastry stressed the need to become a data scientist.

Adamian concluded the panel saying that as an investor, she would consider the team, look at the market, sustainability, analytics and suggested that entrepreneurs be mindful of regulations and also focus on how to engage patients.  The area of preventative medicine is a whole other area that will be of a lot of interest, said Adamian.

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OneMedForum SF 2013 – Healthcare & Finance Conference Highlights


The 6th Annual OneMedForum http://www.onemedplace.com/forum/ conference featured a theme “Profiting from Distuptive Changes in Healthcare and Finance” and ran concurrently with the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, in San Francisco, CA. It was a gathering of some leading investors and the rest management of promising emerging life science companies in Asia and North America. Through panels, workshops, and up-close programming with top industry leaders, attendees explored strategies for company growth.

Overall, there was a palpable focus at this conference on how best to navigate the turbulent market changes and challenges. During individual company presentations, I saw and heard some cool technologies.  But during almost all the panels, one cannot avoid noticing that these are challenging times for medical device industry. Panels explored bootstrapping and non-traditional approaches to navigate the companies in the environment of limited resources, little VC funding, uncertain regulatory and reimbursement climate, and looming tax changes.  The attendees walked away from the panels with excellent advice, resources, and tools that could help them better steer their companies during this time.  See highlights below from some of the panels.

 
China Forum

The conference began with China Forum on January, 7. The objective in first two panels was to educate attendees on challenges and opportunities for emerging healthcare companies for doing business in China, while panel 3 aimed at providing tactical approach to innovate joint venture structures.

In his opening remarks, Bin Li, Managing Director & Senior Research Analyst for China Healthcare, Morgan Stanley Research, gave an overview of China’s healthcare landscape. China market is primarily pharma market and not a device market and is the 3rd largest market, right after US and Japan. China’s pharma / biotech market cap is at $200B, with chem/drugs being the biggest sub-sactor. Medical device industry is relatively small in China and hospital and services is an even smaller industry but is the most exciting sector to watch, in the next ten years, said Li. Hong Kong market is a big piece of the pie. China market is heavily regulated and is expected to grow 15-20% for the next 5 years. There are 3 major insurance programs and are sponsored by the Government. Almost entire population (97%) has some kind of coverage and it ensures that everyone in the value chain receives some benefits. Hospital patient traffic volume has now reached historical highs. Some of the challenges of the China pharma industry are; it is a highly fragmented market, it is too tightly controlled, there are price control issues, and there is fierce competition in the low end generic market. Some of the challenges of China medical device industry are; while it is the fastest growing sector, it is not well regulated yet, and there are price control issues.

China Case Study Panels

Several important points were made, during the first panel session, focused on entering the China market, moderated by David Chen, Managing Director with BFC Group. The panelists included, Alan Paau, VP & ED at Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise & Commercialization, Jay Dong, GM with Asia Pacific Region, Cell Signaling Technology & Vice Chairman of BayHelix, Mark Xu, GM at Trout Group, Shanghi and Peter Luo, Founder & CEO of Adagene. China has had success in innovative products and while it continues to grow and there are some first in class drugs, most drugs are “me too-s”. China had 7 NDAs approved in 2011, in comparison to 30 in US. Approval times have greatly shortened in China. In China, similar to US, the primary focus is in oncology, followed by CNS. Many panelists talked about the importance of building trust, in order to do business in China, but cautioned against blind trust and instead advised “trust but verify”.

The next panel focused on operational issues, once a company is on ground, in China. Panelists in the next panel included, Landon Lack, CEO of China MedConnect, Tony Zhang, Chair of BayHelix & Sr. Research Fello, Eli Lilly, Jimmy Zhang, Managing Director, MSD Early Investment, Greater China at Merck, and Jie Liu, Corporate VP of BD & Corp Communications and President of Simcere of America. One issue debated extensively was whether a company should find one credible, trustworthy distributor and hand over issues to them or find several regional distributors. The panelists suggested various other options that are in between the two extremes. Other options that were suggested include, setting up a small commercial team that does not take up a lot of capital; instead of a distributor, find a local company in the similar area and partner with them; and explore how a medical device US company can grow with pharma distributors in China. The panelists suggested frequent travel with extended stays, cautioning that flying visits were not enough. It was also strongly advised that a company entering China market get IP protection, both in US and in China, else few Chinese potential partners would be interested. It was also advised to prescreen potential partners, establish a firm control over the brand and market, go through regulatory process upfront and have a clear understanding of how the deal is structured and its tax implications.

 
“Connected Health” Panel

Connected Health panel discussed recent trends, implications, challenges and opportunities in technologies that provide patients with ways to monitor their own health. Whether through iPhone apps or through chips implanted in a patient’s body, these technologies are aimed at improving the quality of life. But are they making a big enough difference that payors will pay and investors will invest? These and other issues were discussed in this panel, moderated by Andrew Colbert, Senior VP at Ziegler. The panelists included, Jack Young, Director of Qualcomm Life Fund, Qualcomm Ventures; Peter Neupert, Operating Partner at Growth Buyout Fund, Health Evolution Partners; and Dirk Lammerts, Managing Director at Digital Health, Burrill & Company.

According to Neupert, the whole area of connected Health is growing mature from delivery standpoint, with efficient and accessible technologies. However, the challenge is about inducing change. Additionally, lots of capabilities can generate a great deal of data but the industry has not matured enough to put this data to good use. They are weary of investing in this field. According to Young, however, this is the time to stay ahead of the curve and their fund has invested 50% or $1.4B of capital into digital health. This is invested into six sub segments; wellness & fitness, change driven management, transition care, aging in place, clinical trials, and primary care. There is a need for better data aggregation, said Young. According to Lammerts, the important question is; “what problem is a specific technology solving”? Its is not about cool engineering, but about identifying specific problem that is addressed.

In response to the question, if the area will develop as a payor provided or consumer engaged area, Lammerts said, it has to be consumer engaged, where the consumer is empowered with tools to better manage their health. According to Neupert, it is not about who pays but who has the skin in the game and if there is alignment of interest between physician, patients and provider. According to Neupert, budle payment model with pull adoptions may be the key to induce behavior change. In the end, the usefulness of growing wave of digital health technologies will materialize only through large scale adoption by consumers, and it seems, no one has yet unraveled the key to lasting behavior change.

“CEOs Unplugged” Panel

In a panel session moderated by Stephen Ubi, President & CEO of Advamed, the panelists, David Dvorak, President & CEO at Zimmer, Virginia Rybski, President, CEO, and Director at Regenesis, and Peer Schatz, Managing Director & CEO at QIAGEN, discussed some of the medical technology sector’s most critical issues with a great deal of initial focus on alternative sources of funding and cost containment in development, given the current paucity of VC funding.

Rybski shared that their company was cash positive but it required a lot of focus and instead of the VCs, they raised $15M over 10 years, from Angels. They are now looking into crowd funding opportunities. Also, if the product is for export then a company can get money from the Government to develop, said Rybski. According to Schatz, on the diagnostic side, even if there is clear value proposition, if the mechanism of reimbursement is not clear then it would be hard to get funding from any source. Dvorak shared that they contained costs through improving outcomes, helping hospitals better manage the inventory, and through better communication between the company, hospitals, and customers. “We have been more proactive at increasing operational efficiencies in all areas of our business”, said Dvorak. Rybski also shared that given the intense focus on cost containment, while they were not laying people off, they were also not hiring and not focusing on innovation but solely on sales.

The panelists discussed the importance of key partnerships as key source of information and sharing resources, to help navigate through the current challenges.

Bootstrapping: Bringing Medical Devices to Market with Limited Resources

Christian Haller, VP of Product Development at MPR Associates, moderated this panel and panelists included, Thom Rasche, Partner in Earlybird Ventures, Vicki Anastasi, Senior VP, Medical Devices at Aptiv Solutions and Ashley Wallin, VP of the Emerging Growth Company Council at AdvaMed.

FDA continues to be at the top of the challenge list for small companies. However, according to Wallin, FDA wants to support more innovation through various initiatives such as the Entrepreneurs in Residence program. Sequestration remains a threat, however, which has the potential to result in understaffing at FDA. Additionally, companies struggle with obtaining coverage and payment, and are even losing coverage they once had. Wallin suggested that companies look into reimbursement strategies, early on. Also companies need to keep track of what’s changing in terms of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, OUS regulations and so on. One example of a strategy companies use to bootstrap is to first commercialize lower class and consumer devices to get to revenue more quickly, which in turn supports commercialization of more complex devices downstream, said Wallin. Also, there are a number of free resources to be leveraged; in addition, a tax break for exported products can be leveraged.

“Don’t worry about reimbursement”, said Rasche. If a company has technology that would improve patients’ lives, then it will get reimbursed, he assured. The goal should not be to get in the US first, but eventually. And it would be hard to tell what reimbursement scenario would look like in next 5 years. Digital health technologies may have an easier regulatory path but would not be easy to get reimbursement. A company can get CE mark easily and get to proof of concept. However, funding situation in Europe is as challenging, as in the US, he cautioned. He noted that private pay models,would have looming challenges of commercialization and test marketing and even bigger challenge would be clinical adoption.  However, if the technology offers the opportunity to find a private pay model in which patients and physicians are aligned then the company should pursue this strongly, said Rasche.

He suggested, companies try to outsource what they can and if they find a vendor willing to share the risk then it also looks good to the VCs. The path he suggested was, get regulatory approval in Europe, then tap into Asia market, and then come to US.

According to Anastasi, commercialization path would depend on the technology.  For a technology to have faster approval process, it has to have fewer safety issues, preferably a single use with valid predicate. While entry into Europe can be easier, each market in Europe is different and one needs to be knowledgeable about the markets. And the same holds true of Asia, advised Anastasi.

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