Day 3 - Health 2.0 Silicon Valley

Yesterday was Day 3, the final day of Health 2.0 Silicon Valley. Another day packed with demos, networking and cutting edge insights.  

The highlights of Day 3 for me were seeing the winner of the XPRIZE Nokia Sensing Challenge announced, the session on Clinical Trials and Research, Health 2.0 International session and the session on the Frontier of Health 2.0.  

Mark Winter, Senior Director, Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE came on stage and told us more about the competition, including how it was judged. 

The winner, Nanobiosym Health RADAR was also announced at the conference by Mark Winter. It must have been a difficult choice. The video below includes the announcement as well as hearing Anita Goel from the winning team speak about their journey.  

Peter Diamandis, CEO of XPRIZE came on stage, and he believes that in the future, patients will be saying, "Don't let that human touch me, he makes mistakes". The rise of machines, I guess.  

Mark Winter announces the winner of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE live at Health 2.0 Silicon Valley

Front page of Wall Street Journal - Oct 2nd 2013

Front page of Wall Street Journal - Oct 2nd 2013

The session on Tools and Platforms for Clinical Trials and Research was very good. Bill Silberg moderated the session, which included Harris Lygidakis, Roni Zeiger, Anna McColister-Slipp and Joseph Dustin. Demos from the panel members highlighting how their tools could impact clinical trials. Very timely, as yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a headline on how Merck is cutting 20% of it's workforce in the next 2 years. Having worked within GSK R&D until 2012, I've always believed that there are immense opportunities for startups to help pharma deliver the medicines that patients are waiting for. However, many people in pharmaceutical companies are terrified of even using the word 'Disruptive' in the same sentence as 'Innovation'.  

In the afternoon, in the international session, we heard from Poonacha Machaiah at Qyuki talking about The Weightloss Project. What a brilliant idea! People who are overweight and lose weight can help those in the world who are malnourished and don't have enough to eat. 

Poonacha Machaiah from Qyuki talking about The Weightloss Project

James Mathews, Chairman of Health 2.0 India posed the question - how do we bring Health 2.0 to Southern Sudan or to Syrian refugees? I'm glad he was challenging us to think of those around the world who are underserved. I remember a phrase he repeated multiple times, "Use simple tools to do great things". 

Southern Sudan

Southern Sudan

A Syrian refugee

A Syrian refugee

In Frontier of Health 2.0, moderated by David Ewing Duncan, I loved hearing from Pasquale Fedele who showed us BrainControl, a device that gives people the ability to control assistive technologies with their thoughts using a headset and a tablet.  

Pasquale Fedele, Founder & CEO of Liquidweb talking about BrainControl

Also heard from Louise-Philippe Morency, who shared his work with 'Ellie', a virtual interviewer specialising in facial recognition. Virtual humans in healthcare coming soon!   

Demo of 'Ellie' with Louise-Philippe Morency

Life isn't perfect, and neither are Health 2.0 conferences. Nearly all conferences I go to are packed with sessions, workshops, demos and exhibit halls. It's a challenge to try and fit everything in each day, as well as the all important networking with potential clients and collaborators. It's a personal choice, but if one wants to spend time meeting people at the conference, it can sometimes mean having to skip a session or two. Alternatively, some folks do their networking late into the night over a few beers or glasses of wine. Difficult choices, especially if one is jet lagged. Small things like having the Twitter handles of each speaker listed in the printed program would have made my life a lot easier. The wifi was hit and miss for me, I had problems connecting every day. It wasn't the fault of Health 2.0, I believe there were some attendees grabbing all the bandwidth. Whilst the venue had great facilities, the actual location was sort of like a big business park. Nothing to do or see if you wanted to stretch your legs and have a wander around. By and large, the conference was one of the better managed events I attend. A big thanks to all of the volunteers who were stationed around the convention centre all day and helping us get to the right room at the right time. 


This must have been one of the healthiest conferences I attended. According to my Misfits Shine activity tracker, I walked 2.8 miles during Day 3 of the conference. The layout of the hotel and convention centre meant a lot of walking! Coming from a walking city like London, it didn't bother me, but I could see that amount of walking bothered some American attendees.  

Why have I attended Health 2.0 conferences in the USA, Dubai, Berlin and Delhi? Why did I start the Health 2.0 Chapter in London? There is something unique in the vibe, that Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya bring to each conference. Especially as they are far more down to earth and friendly than a lot of conference organisers I've met. That translates into an enjoyable experience for attendees! At other Health tech events, I've found sometimes, other attendees won't speak with you unless you are from a well known corporation or Venture Capital firm. 

I personally prefer the Health 2.0 Europe conference to the one in California. Why? Smaller group and I like smaller groups. As conferences become more popular they grow, it's inevitable. I prefer the 'intimacy' of conversations in a smaller group. When I run my Chapter meetings in London, I limit each event to 40 attendees, which means we aren't overwhelmed by having to meet 150 people during an evening. For me, it's about bringing diverse groups of people together and building a community that makes amazing stuff happen. 


Health 2.0 Europe was in Berlin last year, but this year, it's in my city, London. I'm grateful to have been given the chance to run a pre-conference workshop on Nov 17th on 'Health 2.0 Tools for the Elderly'. The increase in the aging population, and the burden on society as a result is one of the biggest crises in Global Health, the world faces in the next 50 years, and I sincerely believe we need to act NOW! If you are interested in demoing at my workshop and/or want to discounted entry into the entire conference, please get in touch. I'll do my best to help you. 




[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with any of the companies mentioned above, apart from Health 2.0, which from time to time uses me as a consultant] 


Beyond the mobile phone?

So, this week has been extremely intense. On Tuesday, I gave a talk to the pharmaceutical industry at the Mobile Innovation Summit in Philadelphia. The talk was on whether emerging technologies can help patients to engage with their own health. I then headed out to Silicon Valley, and I've just attended Day 1 of Singularity University's 5 year anniversary & Alumni reunion.  

Mobile Innovation Summit  


This was a conference with senior decision makers attending mostly from Sales & Marketing functions from the big pharmaceutical firms. My talk was on Day 1 very early in the day.

In my talk, I shared my thoughts on what I've seen in Digital Health, and what I expect to see in Digital Health, from a mobile perspective, but with a focus on increasing compliance and adherence, and reducing medication errors. During my research, I was staggered to find statistics such as 125,000 Americans die each year because they don't adhere to their medications. The cost of non-adherence to American healthcare is $290 billion. Many people believe that Digital Health technologies can solve these problems with a click of a button.

I don't. Much of the technology I come across I consider as hype, with little or no evidence to suggest that it could solve these big problems. Not all new technology is equal. I believe in evidence based Digital Health, not just Digital Health. 

I wasn't prepared for the silence, both during the talk as I engaged with the audience, and afterwards in Q&A. I thought perhaps my talk was not well received, but actually, it turns out that for many attendees, the technologies I cited were downright scary. In the world of startups that I inhabit, smart pills that automatically record that you ingested a pill, smart clothes that monitor your vital signs and apps that know you are sick before you do, are just 'normal' for me. The silence told me that these technologies were not on the radar screen for many members of the audience. I guess that's why conferences invite 'Digital Health Futurists' like myself.

Beddit Sleep sensor that makes your bed 'smart'

Beddit Sleep sensor that makes your bed 'smart'

Now, the pharma industry are refining their corporate strategy for using mobile phones in their efforts to engage with patients, and I told them that it's not long before Wearable Computing takes us beyond the mobile phone. I also told them that 'unobtrusive' monitoring WILL be the future, not the current crop of crude and clumsy gadgets that track your activity and sleep. Products such as the sleep sensor from Beddit and MC-10's biostamp are definitely are step in the right direction.

The 'biostamp'

The 'biostamp'

If you are a patient, what would you prefer? A monitoring device that you have to charge every day and sync with bluetooth, or something that requires no change in your behaviour to set it up and use it? Ultimately, one of the questions that resonated in nearly every talk given about the use of innovative mobile technology was, "Who's going to pay for it?". Finding the answer is proving to be a challenge.

5 year anniversary & Alumni Reunion

After attending FutureMed earlier this year at Singularity University, I wasn't planning on returning this year. However, the chance to help celebrate 5 years of impact, hear the pitches from this summer's Graduate Studies Program students and to mingle with alumni from around the globe was too difficult to resist. Oh, I got to hear talks from the Faculty including Peter Diamandis. At the end of Day 1, my brain hurts, after absorbing information on the new technologies coming soon that promise to change our world on a dramatic scale. Digital Biology, Artificial Intelligence, Robots, 3D printing and much more. There are innovations heading our way in the years ahead that offer the chance to meet some the grandest challenges facing humanity. Americans, particularly those in California are quite an optimistic bunch, but the folks at Singularity take it to a whole new level. I felt humbled to be in the company of so many smart individuals. 

Peter Diamandis's evening lecture on Day 1

Peter Diamandis's evening lecture on Day 1

Interestingly enough, in the evening lecture, Peter Diamandis repeated my vision that I had mentioned earlier in the week to pharma, when he talked about 'dematerialization'. He asked the question, "Will 'dematerialization' make smartphones disappear and integrate them into smart clothing?". For those of you, whose products are dependent upon the mobile phone, are you prepared for the shift to Wearable Computing? 

I finally got to try Glass! 

I finally got to try Glass! 

I also tried Google Glass for the first time. For those of you who have not tried Google Glass, find someone who has it and try it for yourself. Most people underestimate the potential of this new era in Computing. People will laugh and say, do we need this particular innovation? Remember, people laughed at Carl Benz in 1886 and asked why do we need motorized carriages when we have horses that pulls carriages. We now have 1 billion cars on the planet. 

Marc Goodman talks about 'smart' floors

Marc Goodman talks about 'smart' floors

I'm becoming more curious about privacy and security of our data. It was fascinating to hear an update from Marc Goodman. I had no idea that 'smart floor' technology exists that allows you to be identified based upon the way you walk. So, for example, smart floors could be used to permit access to a room in a hospital only to authorized individuals.  

Not everything about the day was amazing. Just like FutureMed program I attended, the schedule is packed full of talks and demos, and for me personally, I'd like a bit more time for networking and absorbing the often highly scientific knowledge that is being shared on each slide.  

Timeless wisdom

Timeless wisdom

Two very different events this week. One with risk averse pharma companies who work in an extremely complex regulated environment, and another with companies founded at Singularity University willing to take the biggest risks in human history.



Which companies will survive and which companies will become dinosaurs of the 21st century?  

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with any of the companies mentioned in this post] 

7 billion Citizen Scientists?

So, my TEDx talk has now been uploaded! 

A big Thank You to all the feedback from people around the world who have viewed my talk. I acknowledge that some might argue with the specifics of my vision, but I believe that the direction of my vision is accurate. People who have seen me speak before did say I look nervous at points during the talk. Yup, I'm human, I was nervous giving a talk to 1,200 people. In hindsight, I'd invest in working with a 'public speaking' coach prior to giving such a talk. 

Someone from Germany who watched my talk, contacted me recently. It was rewarding to hear that the ideas mentioned in my talk had inspired him to consider founding a startup in the arena of patient data.  

Who owns, accesses and profits from our health data? 

In the 21st century, the only people really thinking about the power of 'Big Data' are governments and corporations. 

Don't get me wrong, my TEDx talk is not against governments or corporations. It's about getting 7 BILLION patients on the planet to realise the VALUE and POWER of their health data, and to decide which scenario they prefer:

  1. Governments and a few corporations having all the power
  2. Governments and corporations 'sharing' the power with patients

The recent revelations about PRISM and our data is quite timely for having an open and mature dialogue about our health data? Maybe consumers aren't that bothered how many governments and corporations have access to their personal data? Watching this 30 minute talk by the CIA's CTO, Ira Hunt, even he concluded by saying we should be asking, 'What are our rights? Who owns our data?'. He mentions that by owning and using a mobile phone, we are already mobile sensor platforms, and will soon become mobile health platforms. I recently discovered the DataMap, by the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard University. If you're a patient in the USA, isn't it fascinating to see a map of the different entities that can get hold of your health data? THINK about it, this is BEFORE we start using the smartphone as the healthcare delivery platform.

7 billion citizen scientists. Merely a pipe dream?

In my talk, I mentioned   Our Health Data Cooperative and BRIDGE, two American initiatives that share many of the values of my vision.

I recently heard about a proposal to form a global alliance to build a data-sharing future for genomic data. This is exciting news, especially for those who want to discover cures for rare diseases [80% of rare diseases are caused by faulty genes] However, reading through their White Paper, I noticed this text on Page 5;

Patients need a trusted route for the altruistic sharing of personal genetic information to accelerate progress, including ways to manage privacy and consent 

I challenge the notion that patients should just donate their valuable health data for free to researchers in the name of advancing human health. What do YOU think? 

Then on Page 16, I noticed that Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft had been involved in one of their meetings held in Santa Cruz on Dec 20th, 2012. I'm not jumping to conclusions, but after recent events, I'm just a little bit more wary of certain US tech companies and my personal data. 

I still believe we need a new type of global data sharing organisation created by patients, run by patients and for the benefit of patients. A global patient data cooperative? In the 21st century, perhaps we need to establish the WPO (World Patient Organisation)? I searched to see if WPO already exists, it doesn't. However, I found IAPO (International Alliance of Patient Organisations). Anyone from IAPO reading this blog? 

If creating a new global patient run organisation seems impossible, perhaps a pragmatic path would be develop new health data exchange standards? For example, a group of 50,000 Diabetics in the US who have pooled their health data, would be able to pool their data with 100,000 Diabetics in India, and 100,000 Diabetics in China? Remember, I'm talking about the real-time health data that patients have captured from their bodies between visits to the doctor using their smartphones. Maybe the world isn't yet ready for 7 billion Citizen Scientists? 

A marketplace for patients to trade their health data? 

Late night discussions with a few people have led to the concept of an online marketplace in the future, where groups of patients around the world can sell 'access' to their health data? [Note. In my vision, patients will always own their health data]. Let's call it 'HDM', the Health Data Marketplace. 

When I have talked to people about the example from my talk of the patient in rural Africa who gets paid by a Western pharmaceutical company for access to their real-time health data captured by their phone, their first reaction is, 'How would the patient in rural Africa receive the payment?'. I mention M-Pesa, and explain that In sub-Saharan Africa, more people have a mobile money account than are are signed up for Facebook!

Given that we already have online patient communities centered around one or more related diseases such as Crohnology, CancerCommons, SmartPatients and RareShare, will those communities also be listing their datasets on the HDM? Who would own and run the HDM? How would ensure that the HDM was not used fraudently? How can we ensure the security and privacy of patient data? How would we verify that the data being listed is actually the data of those patients? Is the idea of a HDM even ethical? 

Just as in my talk, I acknowledge there are major barriers to any of my ideas becoming reality. Governance, regulation, standards, privacy, security and most importantly, interest. All my crazy ideas will go nowhere unless there is a critical mass of voices from around the globe.

I appreciate, I've raised more questions than answers. My vision is far off into the future, but if WE want it to happen, we have to start having the discussion NOW.

I'm really interested in your thoughts about my ideas. I invite you to leave a comment here, tweet me, or send me an email.