A student, a researcher and an entrepreneur walk into a bar attend Wired Health, and have a blast! Check out the event recap as seen through the eyes of Alice Vodden, Neil Graham and Becks Armstrong, our 2019 Wired Health competition winners.
It was a superb experience to attend Wired Health 2019 and catch up with some of the latest technological developments in healthcare. The event consisted of a variety of talks, presentations and panel discussions, all celebrating the power and potential of technology in revolutionising the future of our health system.
Paul Nurse, The Director of the Francis Crick Institute, gave the opening address, speaking specifically around the framework of trust required in order to effectively apply new technology within the NHS. This idea was also eluded too in several of the other talks throughout the day – particularly around the subjects of Artificial Intelligence and data sharing. Following this, Founder and CEO of Openwater, Mary Lou Jepsen, discussed her work in the development of portable high resolution medical imaging - more specifically the physics behind the the use of light to see deep inside our bodies and brains.
There is a well-established acceptance today that collaboration is key in order to harness the power of technology, and develop sustainable health ecosystems. Dean Mohamedally, Principal Fellow for Applied Software Engineering and Industry projects at University College London, brilliantly encapsulated this discussing the collaborative work between the NHS, academia and industry as part of the UCL Industry Exchange Network with Microsoft and NHS Digital. He spoke about the need to create a ‘AI Playground’ to permit the development of new, innovative solutions, as well as why all students should be sharing their research and data publicly in order to foster further collaboration within this space. Later in the morning, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder of Medical Realities Shafi Ahmed discussed the the need to bring data together in “an open architecture”, with the end goal of “better health outcomes at an individual level”. He highlighted the importance of data interoperability, and how it’s only by creating this ecosystem of linked data that can talk to each other, can we will truly capitalise on the value of this information.
The afternoon kicked off with a fireside chat with Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England, hosted by Jack Kreindler, Founder of CHHP. With “the gap between 'Healthspan' and lifespan increasing”, Dame Sally discussed the need for a measure of health expectancy to be a core objective, ensuring that people not only live longer, but live longer well. This was followed by an enlightening session led by Dr Pearse Keane on the collaborative work between Moorfields Eye Hospital and DeepMind. There is considerable excitement over the impact that AI / machine learning will have in healthcare, so a very nice example was a demo of DeepMind’s retinal OCT analysis tool, which analyses an eye scan before making a predication about likely diagnosis, and urgency of expert assessment. The strengths of their approach include transparency generally (the work has been published in Nature medicine) and specifically for each scan analysed (the algorithm shows where it is uncertain and highlights the uncertainty in any recommendations). Their team also recognises the vital partnership between physician and technology to deliver the best possible care.
Another highlight was seeing the rapid evolution in wearable technology. We often see people with epilepsy who are unclear about how often they have seizures. This can make adjusting medication doses in a rational manner very difficult, and this is important clinically as untreated seizures can be very dangerous to health. An unobtrusive wrist-worn monitor ‘embrace-2’ seems to have great potential to address this by monitoring convulsive seizures and keeping a log in a smartphone app, which can be shared with the treating doctor. If effective in our own populations (which needs to be assessed!), it would hugely useful.
The day ended with the announcement of the EY Startup Showcase Winner – FacePrint - an automated screening and monitoring tool for Parkinson’s disease using early-stage facial expression indicators.
Alice Vodden (Undergraduate student at the University of Warwick). Alice is studying (BSc) Global Sustainable Development with Business at the University of Warwick, with a particular interest in the role of data and technology in the development of sustainable health systems. Alice is currently working at Outcomes Based Healthcare in London as part of her third year placement, after which she will return to university to complete her final year in September.
Neil Graham is a clinical research fellow at Imperial College London and specialty trainee in neurology. Just as the underlying technological advances are important, he's a strong believer in the need for changes in how we think about the validation of treatments in this pre-symptomatic setting, with a shift towards the use of reliable biomarkers in contrast to traditional outcomes such as pen and paper memory tests.