2015 February SXSWorld


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2 6 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M ith smart wearables, genius adhesives and sav v y embedded- tech gear, it is indeed a brave new world in medical technology. As media outlets buzz with the latest advances, many observers believe telemedicine promises a bona fide revolution in both con- sumers' physical and financial well-being. A cursory trawl through the tech world ether reveals incredible sportables beeping and signaling on the horizon: breast cancer detecting bras, smart socks that alert dia- betics, ingestibles that digitally track our medications, skin adhesives that monitor epilepsy, heart disease, Parkinson's Disease and other health conditions. There is even an embedded-tech mattress band that will gauge one's quality of sleep and connect that data to the snoozer's smart phone, which then offers helpful hints for a better night's rest. We already have wrist bling galore telling us how many calories we have burned, and the pro sports world is jammed with highly effective neuro-tracking protec- tive gear for athletes. These devices were unfathomable for most only a few years ago, but they are becoming the new normal. And while some of the above-mentioned are still trudging through clinical studies and Food and Drug Administration approval, they hold the over- arching possibility that in the near future, the data produced by such technology can coalesce and save lives, via the "Internet of Everything." But as cool and helpful as many of these devices already are, that future is not yet here, though according to Cisco chief futurist Dave Evans, the components are aligning. Last year, Evans blogged that in the next decade, more than 50 billion "things" will be connected around the planet, with trillions of connections linking them. As he wrote in 2013, "While sensors and machine- to-machine communication are important parts of these solutions, it's not just the 'Internet of Things' that is making all of this possible — it's the 'Internet of Everything' — the networked connection of people, pro- cess, data, and things." Mini Kahlon, vice dean for partnerships and strategy at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical Center, believes that seamless connectivity is the missing piece in the high-stakes med-tech jigsaw puzzle. "The real question is, how do these devices save lives, and how do they save us money? Those questions are key in this med-tech revolution today. There are fan- tastic successes at the periphery resulting in reams of data that are not being used by anybody, because the (healthcare) system is titanic. It's hard to move and change, and today, we don't yet have systems in place that can benefit from all the data." Dr. Kahlon sees opportunities on the horizon for communities to integrate this mega data in practical ways, creating a healthier citizenry and a more cost-effective healthcare system. But she believes that time is still a few years away: "You have things such as the wireless blood pressure monitor that allows for mon- itoring at home, which is fantastic, because it means you don't have to go to the physi- cian's office for that minor procedure. But a lot of the physicians are not receiving that information ... So, the big challenge now is how do we best use all this data that's being generated? First of all, devices such as wire- less blood pressure monitors (in and of themselves) have not been validated by the existing system. We need to be able to plug it into a system that can track it. The second thing is, you have to create new opportu- nity for innovation. We need a new software system that can read all this information and determine when do the triggers go off that alert healthcare providers that a patient needs care pronto." Only then, when the patient meets with his or her physician, are they actually having a meaningful conversation, Dr. Kahlon says -- one in which the patient can take steps to improve his condition and take preventative measures. "That's the nature of what should be hap- pening," Dr. Kahlon says. "Then we can answer the question: Are the new innova- tions actually improving health? I think innovations today have to have the dual end of, are we improving health and are we doing so while reducing costs — so that we have more and better for more people. I love cool, don't get me wrong," she concludes. "But at some point we have to bring people into a system that's actually using all the data that's being generated." Cisco's director of healthcare, Barbara Casey, agrees with that assessment to some extent. "It's a huge question, where healthcare is right now. I think it's going to take three to five years before you really start to see anything with any critical mass. However, immediately, there are things that can have an impact. There are case studies of orga- nizations that are doing unique things. And many devices — bathroom scales, fitness wearables, heart monitors, maternal-fetal monitors — are absolutely in practice today, and (caregivers) are collecting that data from a patient's home or environment and using it to alert for any violations of thresh- olds being normal ..." Still, the historic model of healthcare needs to change and move more toward a retail, consumer-satisfaction approach, Casey says. "I think healthcare can borrow some wisdom from other industries. Just with the sheer number of stakeholders involved, they haven't always focused on the patient or the consumer ... My point of view is, they need to look at customer relations management as much as anything, as a way to really cat- egorize what's happening with patients and what their preferences are and how they like to communicate." The SX Health and MedTech Expo will take place March 16-17 in the 2nd Floor Exhibition Hall at the JW Marriott Hotel (110 E. Second St). Can the Internet of Everything Revolutionize Medicine? by shermakaye bass W To p: M ini Ka hlo n B ot to m: B a rb a r a C a s ey

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