Wednesday, 28 August 2013

London's First Health Tech Forum Meet

The London chapter of the Health Technology Forum (HTF) met for the first time earlier this month and I was fortunate to speak at the event. The HTF is the brainchild of Silicon Valley health tech enthusiast and deal maker, Pronoy Saha, who has created an international network of HTF chapters based in the US, Singapore, India and now the UK. Pronoy hopes that this network of HTF chapters will answer the following question: How can technology be used to narrow the healthcare gap between rich and poor?
He believes that by bringing entrepreneurs, technologists, futurists, and clinicians together, answers to this and similar questions will be found in the health tech space. A feature of these meetings is the involvement of clinicians who play a vital role in the adoption of healthcare technologies.

My impressive co-speakers were Battenhall founder Drew Benvie, MedCrunch's Ben Heubl, and telehealth expert Charles Lowe. For me the talk of the evening was Drew Benvie's vision of the Quantified Self and how this will apply to digital health in the future. Continuous harvesting of personal data for maintaining personal fitness, disease prediction/avoidance and management of chronic illness is an exciting prospect. Applying these technologies to healthcare will no doubt lead to more personalised treatments during illness.
I spoke about how several technologies are being applied to the emergency treatment of heart attacks. These include technologies used during treatment (drug coated coronary stents, a variety of other invasive technologies, genetically engineered monoclonal antibody based drugs and so on) as well as for communication between ambulances (or helicopters) and coronary care units. A recent radio interview where I describe such a case can be heard here. Implantable devices which can be monitored remotely are routinely used in cardiology departments.
I also emphasised the role of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) in future digital health. The NHS is uniquely placed to apply new technologies to cost effective, patient centred healthcare. A nationwide healthcare system with comprehensive data capture has the ability to apply new treatments effectively, safely and rapidly to a huge number of patients, as it has done in the treatment of heart attacks.
Details regarding the London chapter of HTF are available here. Another review of this meet is available here.