On October 15th and 16th an extraordinary group of more than 200 experts and thought-leaders from medicine, science, technology, and business gathered for the Wired Health Conference – a two-day commentary, analysis, and discussion on the future of healthcare. The impressive list of speakers included:
- Stephen Wolfram -creator of Mathematica
- J. Craig Venter – founder of Celera Genomics (that company that sequenced the complete human genome)
- Nicholas Christakis – Director of Human Nature Laboratory, Harvard University
- Eric Topol – Director of Scripps Translational Science Institute
- Gigi Hirsch – Executive Director of the Center for Biomedical Innovation, MIT
- Andy Grove – former chairman and CEO of Intel
- Tim Ferriss – author of The 4 Hour Workweek and the 4-Hour Body
The Wired Health Conference: Living By Numbers is grounded on the belief that better data will lead to better healthcare. The conference examined the many opportunities in healthcare where scalable, innovative technologies could advance medicine and improve care. The widely varied backgrounds of the conference’s speakers provided a broad span of commentary topics and discussions.
Andy Grove, the former Intel Chairman who is currently fighting Parkinson’s disease, argued for comprehensive price transparency throughout healthcare. Army Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, MD, the former director of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Initiative, explained the ways data can be deployed to improve the health and wellness of the United States Armed Forces including in the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nicholas Christakis, the director of the Human Nature Laboratory at Harvard University, discussed his research on the “way that networks of people affect each other’s health”. Using giant data sets from long-term projects like the Framingham Heart Study and vast amounts of depersonalized Facebook data, Christakis analyzed the ways “clusters” of people (groups of friends or colleagues) affect the frequencies of obesity, smoking, and more. For example Christakis determined that if a person’s friend becomes obese, that person is 57% more likely to become obese as well. From a public health perspective, this type of data mining and analytics has incredible potential.
This conference was just a glimpse of the opportunities in healthcare where technology could have a revolutionary role, but it was an important glimpse. As investments and innovations in health tech continue to soar, I hope to see the actualization of this potential transformation sooner rather than later.
Videos of the conference presentations can be viewed at http://fora.tv/conference/wired_health_conference_living_by_numbers.