A few days ago I’ve published an interview with Maneesh Juneja – one of the most influential people in Digital Health. Now, I’ve asked the same questions Fabrice Angelini – Trainer and Digital Projects Manager SEUR at Thermo Fisher Scientific. I invite you to read this interesting interview with a person who for many years has been operating in a medical environment in various positions. Same questions, different point of view.
What are the biggest challenges in modern healthcare?
One of the main hurdles today in healthcare is a lack of resources globally in the system. The actual paradigm is about to change, as with high constraints on cost-effectiveness hospitals and highly technical healthcare facilities tend to be overcrowded. This is highly impacting their capacity of innovation, since most of the patients presenting there come due to the lack of General practitioners and only require low-level care. So we have a system with a huge complexity due to the growing mass of patients diluting the severe pathologies, often coming at early stages, making it challenging to clearly diagnose and assign them to the most appropriate ward.
The fact that we live in an hyper-connected world isn’t actually helping: everyone hears of potential evolution in treatments that could eradicate some of the most deadly pathologies that humanity has faced in the last century, but the news spreads so fast that often a preliminary result is presented to the masses that can’t critically analyze studies.
Remember when the tritherapies appeared on the market and the HIV infection regained strength as people lowered their focus on prevention. We could face the same issues in the near future if people get distracted by either fake news or sensationalism.
So we have a many-faceted challenge coming: reforming the healthcare system from a pathology to a prevention system, whilst controlling mass media informations and their potential impact on public health politics… And of course, all of this comes in the context of making patients the managers of their healthcare. Many companies are starting to put emphasis on empowering patients with the help of apps, placing bets on AI as the driver of this evolution.
What trends in digital healthcare will dominate in the coming years?
Of course, once we discussed the global picture of having a change of perspective on the notion of healthcare itself, it’s transparent to anyone paying attention to technological evolution that AI is the next disruptive innovation. And we talk about AI as a deep evolution of every technology we use, not only a tool with a narrow scope of applications. We live in a society driven by information, and the complexity of both mass and technicity of knowledge generated in healthcare is making it nearly impossible to keep up to date for even the best specialists.
The advent of personalized/precision medicine has also shown that we’re moving towards a patient-centric system per se. Powering devices (like patches running on blood glucose itself), improving connection capacity (project loon being a good example), focusing on mixed reality as a valid user interface (Google glasses weren’t successful but it wasn’t a mass market objective) and cloud computing tailored for AI, for example… We’re moving towards a world where everyone will be able to get its individual adaptative and evolutive data steward with the capacity to not only measure, but also analyze and give recommendations to the user – and healthcare will be one of the areas most benefiting from using these.
Telemedicine and virtual care are becoming major topics for insurance companies across Europe. Insurers stopped caring about cost-saving innovations and started to take care of patients and the quality of healthcare they are providing. Healthcare is becoming more patient-centered than ever before. You are from France, what it’s your opinion about this?
You’re right, in some aspects cost saving is not really a motivation anymore since some companies understood that when it comes to technological evolution, early adopters are always keen on spending much more for sometimes only a marginal benefit. Healthcare shouldn’t be different, but we also see a lot of extremely influential and rich people investing a lot in the domain and it drives innovation forward without having the pressure on cost as much as it could.
You mention Europe and it’s right we can also see some ambiguous perception on telemedicine: in highly regulated markets like Europe, USA and western countries globally, we have a huge stress placed on data privacy and regulation on software that might slow down the progress of innovation with a benefit in the long term for the users. In not-so-strictly regulated markets (Africa and some parts of Asia, etc), the immediate benefit can require giving up some data to innovating companies, but the need is urgent and it’s the only solution.
How will digital health look like in next 5 years?
Predicting the future has always been something people wanted to do. Everyone has an opinion on it but we are often either falling in a science fiction optimistic vision, or a pessimistic vision that considers things don’t change in less than 20 years.
One way to look at predictions is taking the rear view approach. What has changed in the last 5 years? And then it becomes clear that 5, even 2 or 3 years, is enough time for some great changes to happen! For me, AI is diffusing everywhere and it’ll be in our phones and homes way before the 5-year mark. Having it available 24/7 with a personal interface will vastly improve access and use of health data. Feeding on objective data, it also means sensors are the next frontier, and that’s where the battle will be fought in the next 2/3 years. And it’s not new: our world is a world of information and data – healthcare won’t be any different!
What are the best places to get information about digital health and TechMed innovations?
I have a routine of sources I use everyday, and it takes me approximately 2 hours to get a view on what was posted. A great but challenging source is Twitter. There is a fantastic advantage there: you can check the source and the person that tweeted. And the feedback is so fast that sometimes you have the info and the critiques on it at the same time. Amongst other sources, you can check my curation website: thegrid.ai/singulaire
About Fabrice Angelini
Fabrice is interested in many aspects of science and medicine, such as infectious diseases and molecular genetics, I’m passionate about the evolution of new technologies, focusing on singularity and the potential implication of next-generation devices/software for our world.
After a PhD in Molecular Genetics at Bordeaux University (France) on the identification of Helicobacter pylori virulence genes, he joined the medical diagnostic industry in a sales team. That experience helped him to understand the deep mechanics of the French healthcare system and also the clinician’s needs and strategies for patient management.
He has then worked as a Product Specialist for an extremely used biomarker and has been in charge of the digital marketing initiatives for French-speaking countries for 7 years. After setting up our clinicians’ oriented information website, he managed iPhone and iPad applications projects; one customer oriented and one other for internal use, prescribing and modelling field marketing and digital tools that put the right information in the right place at the right time.