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Tech leaders aim to curb obesity at Medical Innovation Summit


With diabetes and obesity at the center of the 2013 Medical Innovation Summit in Cleveland, Ohio, it was clear that evolving patient care using technology was on the minds of the thought leaders who spoke at the 3-day event.


With diabetes and obesity at the center of the 2013 Medical Innovation Summit in Cleveland, Ohio, October 14-16, it was clear that evolving patient care using technology was on the minds of the thought leaders who spoke at the 3-day event. Panelists discussed how rapidly the doctor's office and responsibilities are changing.

Many of the healthcare leaders at the event stressed that providers need a change in attitude about treatment, aided by technology advances as a way to slow obesity.

“Effficiency and coordination are the big stories in innovation,” says George Barrett, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cardinal Health.

New technology to help physicians manage obesity and diabetes care were unvieled at the event, including a mobile app that scans the eye to measure glucose, an anti-gravity foot brace for diabetics, and less invasive and cost-cutting technologies for bariatric surgery to assist with weight loss.

Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, CEO of The Cleveland Clinic says that innovation is a big part of managing obesity and diabetes, which he called “public enemy No. 1.”

“Organizations need to honor their innovators, and allow them to make mistakes,” Cosgrove says, adding that the evolving understanding of obesity as a disease in the past five years has contributed to more resources being allocated to finding solutions for patients. 

“Obesity represents 10% of healthcare costs, so cutting them without treating the disease will hurt doctors and patients,” Cosgrove says.

At the “Health IT and the Patient Experience” panel, experts explained how technology, big data, gaming, and machine-based clinical decisions could make room for more meaningful interactions between physicians and their patients.

Watson, IBM’s robot made famous by outsmarting some of the country’s top Jeopardy winners in 2011, was also present at the event. Watson now has the ability to make clinical decisions and explain it sources and reasoning behind its conclusions.

“We need machines to do appropriate work,” says Martin Harris, MD, MBA, chief information officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “Gaming has to be a part of the patient’s life through mobile or TV to be effective.”

Peter Tippett, MD, PhD, chief medical officer of Verizon Communications, described a future in healthcare technology free of usernames, passwords, and keystrokes that would make the basic functions of interacting with patients more meaningful, while being HIPAA compliant. The healthcare industry has to be more open to embracing innovators from other sectors of technology to build technology around government constraints.

“If we could remove 80% of the (HIPAA compliant) problem from the developer community and just let that burden ride with somebody that’s big and willing to take the risk, I think that could accelerate the whole ecosystem,” Tippett said.

The innovation summit included a session on the top 10 medical innovations for 2014, as selected by the Cleveland Clinic. Of particular interest to primary care physicians were:

1. Direct acting antiviral oral Hepatitis C drugs

Sofosbuvir, the first all-oral hepatitis C treatment, is moving through the final stages of FDA approval. It would be the first of a new generation of hepatitis C drugs called direct-acting antivirals (DAA). Oral DAAs have the potential to improve what for many patients has been a difficult treatment regimen that can take up to 48 weeks and requires injections of interferon, a drug that is difficult to tolerate. DAAs can improve treatment response rates to 90% or higher.

2. Treating C. diff with fecal microbiotia transplantation

C. diff is typically combated with one of two antibiotics: Vancomycin or metronidazole. However, many gastroenterologists are now employing fecal microbiota transplantation-the use of human stool transplants-to battle C.diff in those patients who do not respond to standard drug therapy. This bacteriotherapy typically entails a colonoscopy or enema to transfer a liquid suspension made from a healthy person’s fecal matter into a sick person’s colon in order to restore bacterial balance and cure a specific disease.

3. Relaxin for acute heart failure

Serelaxin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone, human relaxin-2, has proven that it can improve acute heart failure symptoms after being infused over a 48-hour period in the hospital following a heart failure episode or a heart attack.

Once approved, serelaxin-the first in a new class of drugs that acts through a mechanism in the heart and kidneys-will become the first treatment breakthrough for acute heart failure in 2 decades

4. Computer-assisted personalized sedation system

A new computer-assisted personalized sedation device that delivers the prescription drug propofol for sedation via intravenous infusion received premarket approval from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.

The new sedation system enables non-anesthesia professionals to administer the drug propofol during colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedures as long as they have professional training and use the machine where an anesthesia professional is immediately available.

The complete list of the top 10 medical innovations is available on the 2013  Medical Innovation Summit website at http://bit.ly/17bRvc9


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