The healthcare industry has completely changed over the past few years: disruptive and innovative solutions bring benefits to patients but also practitioners. Innovation, data, m-health, risk and aging were the topics discussed by international and local experts at the Healthcare Summit organized during ICT Spring Europe 2016.
Opening the Connected Health Conference, Carlo Duprel, Director, Deloitte Luxembourg, and moderator during the afternoon, focused on new communication channels: “Internet, Social Media and smartphones facilitate the interaction between healthcare providers and patients. The population is more and more connected and data informed, the patients see themselves as consumers and want to make sure they make the right choices when it comes to their health situation and means”. But as Carlo Duprel explained, technology is not the only element which are driving the unprecedented shifts in our healthcare system: “we should also take into account demography, economy and society”.
Dr. Philippe Pouletty, Co-Founder, Truffle Capital, gave a presentation entitled “Innovation is less risky”. He noted that “lots of companies, innovators and investors still prefer to take less risks and develop faster”. He described this attitude as a big mistake: “if you want to succeed, you should do something that no one or only a few do. You have to be a pioneer”. As his company invested in the Carmat Heart, the first artificial heart, he also explained how it is complicated to mimic the human heart. Concerning the future, he claims that the big challenge of the next 50 years will be about brain functions: “Should we try to improve them or not?”
Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director, BioMed X Innovation Center, started his speech (“A new open innovation model at the interface between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry”) in line with the one of Philippe Pouletty: “innovation is something unpredictable. You have to take risks but you don’t know if you will be successful”. After this introduction, he suggested that the “innovation potential of a local R&D hub is proportional to the local density of talent, the local diversity of talent and the innovation conduciveness of the local environment”. As the pharmaceutical industry has a decline of productivity, he pointed out that his company developed a new innovation model at the corner of academia and industry, and combines global crowdsourcing with local incubation of brightest ideas and talents.
“Big Data and Computation Platform of the Luxembourg Parkinson’s Disease Cohort” was the title of the presentation given by Reinhardt Schneider, Head of Bioinformatics Core facility, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedecine (LCSB). After giving an overview of the LCSB’s activities, he specifically discussed the 8-year research program (NCER-PD) which focuses on the early-stage diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and the IT and data management setup for this project. As lots of data are required to complete this research program, and as they should be securely protected, Reinhardt Schneider concluded that “Luxembourg has a big advantage because the country can rely on high security data centres”.
Carlos Jaime, Head of Health & Medical Equipment Division, Samsung Electronic France, highlighted how Samsung is implicated in the healthcare industry (“Samsung vision of Digital Health “Connected”). Claiming that “the health is definitively in Samsung’s DNA”, he explained that m-health will change dramatically the relations between patients and doctors: “The knowledge is not anymore in doctors’ hands, but in the digital providers’ hands. Thanks to digital health, doctors will get more time to provide personalized treatment”. He also stressed out that patients will stay more and more at home instead of hospitals, thanks to multiple mobile devices which will monitor them.
Big Data has become a reality: they may be useful to accelerate research in connected health. However, there are several bottlenecks in harnessing all this data, including information security considerations or privacy restrictions. During her presentation entitled “The Human Bottlenecks in Big Data”, Maxine Mackintosh, Managing Director, HeathTech Women, emphasized that Big Data is a mystery for most people: “big data is like teenage sex. Everyone talks about it. But nobody really knows how to do it. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it. So everyone claims they are doing it”.
Aubrey De Grey, Chief Science Officer, Sens Research Foundation, started his presentation (“Rejuvenation Biotechnology) by what he called a “success story”: a graph presenting the percentage of the U.S population over age 65 between 1950 and 2050. “This percentage is bigger and bigger, notably because of medications. But if most infectious diseases have been easily prevented, why are age diseases not?” After redefining the term “aging”, he exposed that Alzheimer, cancer or atherosclerosis should be considered as aging and not as diseases, contrary to what people ordinarily think. After he enumerated progresses in research, he concluded by saying that during life, a maintenance approach should be operate: “I compare that to a car maintenance. To extend your life, you have to repair each damages of your body by a unique approach.”
“Is 100 the new 80? Preparing Europe for healthy centenarians” was the presentation given by Sylvie Bove, CEO, EIT Health. After explaining that “each generation get 4 or 5 additional years of life expectancy” and that “health is a very strong challenge in Europe”, she presented the organisation she works for : “The role of EIT Health is to promote entrepreneurship and innovates in healthy living and active ageing, with the aim to improve quality of life and healthcare across Europe”. To ensure this mission, the organisation focuses on three challenges, the promotion of healthy live, the support of active ageing and the improvement of healthcare.
The panel discussion that followed was guided by questions asked by Carlo Duprel, the moderator of the afternoon. With Aubrey De Grey, Christian Tidona, Sylvie Bove and Maxine Mackintosh, they notably discussed about some other challenges of connected health and shared what they considered as the most exciting health project that they have recently seen. To conclude, Christian Tidona shared a comment about the future of our continent: “we are fragmented but we need, all of us, to focus on outstanding innovations. This is our only to see top world talents moving to Europe and to become competitive”.