On the first day of CES I attended a Digital Health Summit panel discussion hosted by Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post. To introduce the discussion, she described Americans’ increase in antidepressants, sleep medications, and stress, and how 75% of healthcare spending is spent on preventable diseases, and 80% of medications are for pain. All of these conditions are preventable through other means, she said.
The panel discussed a perfect storm of multiple trends: (1) stress (and I’d add sleep deprivation) is a killer, (2) our broken & expensive sick care system, and (3) technology & wearable devices that can help us focus on health & wellness. Market researchers note that 30 million wearable devices shipped in 2012, going to 60 million in the next year. In addition, 44 million health apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets this year.
Arianna Huffington described the negative health effects of Stress and promoted her magazine’s new focus on Health & Wellness. She also offered to host important health conversations and promoted her new iPhone app, GPS for the Soul, which is free and based on two truths: (1) that we all have within us a centered place of harmony and balance, and (2) that we all veer away from that place again and again. Using your phone’s camera lens, the app measures your current stress levels, capturing heart rate and heart rate variability, and then connects you with the things that help you course-correct – from music & poetry to breathing exercises and pictures of your loved ones.
Deepak Chopra, Co-author “Super Brain” – spoke on the Mind / Brain / Body ecosystem and how new sensors can measure brain activity can provide neural feedback to help with meditation, sleep and wellness. His product, DreamWeaver (4:32 VIDEO) is electronic device that feeds music, audio signals, and affirmations, starting at 20Hz and than slowing to put wearer into deep sleep. Deepak’s new book, “Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream,” is coming out in May and is the latest effort in a lifelong mission to bring greater awareness to the connection between our bodies, minds and spirits. “People are so dependent on the magic-bullet approach,” he writes, “that they neglect prevention. The neglect of self-care is a massive killer, and that’s because of how interconnected our minds and bodies are. Every cell participates in how we live. No part of the body gets to opt out when you take a drink. Alcohol permeates the system. Yet so does depression. So does stress.”
Andrew Thompson, President & CEO Proteus Digital Health, believes that effective solutions must focus on Health rather than Sickness and engage patients with activities they’re familiar with, such as swallowing medicine. That’s why his company developed a digital pill that doubles as a radio and shares health data with patients and caregivers. This Europe & FDA-approved “Digital health feedback system” is activated by stomach fluids and transmits information about what you’ve eaten and how well you are to a patch worn on the abdomen, which then communicates with a smartphone app over Bluetooth. It will ship in just a few months. (1:07 VIDEO)
Sonny Vu, founder Misfit Wearables, which already had developed monitoring devices for people with diabetes and is now introducing the next stage of wearable sensors, the Misfit Shine. Shine is an elegant, all-metal activity tracker that syncs with your smartphone just by placing it on your phone screen. Find out how active you are every day, and set goals to become more active. It’s water proof, so you can wear it how you want, wherever you want. To see how active you’ve been throughout the day, simply tap Shine and a halo of lights shines through invisible micro-holes, laser drilled into the metal casing. There’s no cables, no Bluetooth pairing, no charging stations – just an easily replaceable battery that lasts about six months. (2:42 VIDEO)
David Daly, Head of Oncology for Life Technologies, spoke of game changing advancements in genomics and DNA analysis that will transform cancer treatment. He said that once care & treatment is done, there is a need to monitor recurrence through three main areas: DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and content. This is especially important for lung cancer, which has 15% survival rate versus 90% for breast cancer, often because of resulting/remaining diseases. More people die from lung cancer than all other cancers combined.
Reed V. Tuckson, MD and Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealth Group, opened with a passionate account of our nation’s rising health care costs, because there are no remaining public funds to pay for it. If we don’t address this problem, there will not be a dime of funding left for Education, Infrastructure & Research. There is too much preventative chronic illness. Too many people still smoke. Too many don’t exercise. He promoted Dance Dance Revolution (0:21 VIDEO), a prominently featured game that promotes exercise through social play, thus changing the mind/body experience. Typical medical innovation costs more and adds to existing procedures. Consumer tech innovation costs less and replaces that old approach.
After the panel discussion, I found my way over to the UnitedHealth exhibits and spoke with nearly everyone there, including Dr. Tuckson after he finished dancing on the fitness game.