CNY at the Crossroads of 'Connected Health' Revolution

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


By Ali Tinazli, Ph.D.

Healthcare has always been driven by the advancement of science, technology and societies. A few key trends are reshaping today's healthcare landscape and shifting our industry toward decentralized, preventive and personalized treatment models. These trends include the convergence of technologies, empowered and engaged customers, significant regulatory changes, and the entry of non-traditional players disrupting today's market.

The convergence of healthcare diagnostics and information technology will lead to a paradigm shift in our understanding of human biology. The translation of physiological parameters into digital data to obtain contextual health information promises new insights and an improved implementation of companion diagnostics. The convergence of microfluidics, edge computing and commercial mobility with diagnostics, digital health, big data, precision medicine and theranostics will disrupt existing, established structures in our healthcare system. This will allow new models of partnerships among the technology, bioscience and medical technology industries.

Today, chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60 percent of all deaths and 70 percent of healthcare costs. Healthcare systems are not sustainable anymore and costs in most countries are rising faster than their gross domestic product (GDP). The world has changed substantially in the past 50 years, while the healthcare systems have stayed mostly stagnant. However, seismic shifts in the healthcare industry have recently begun: large-scale alliances across industry segments are driving innovation to disrupt the unsustainable existing healthcare system, lower cost and increase access to personalized medical information. The abundance of technology, availability of genomics, health and lifestyle data coming to the market every day helps us monitor, measure and adjust our habits to improve our health and the outcomes of treatment.

The new era of connected health will enable everyone to access personalized medical information.

New imperatives of healthcare are focusing on prevention, personalization of diagnostics and treatment and democratization, including access to everyone, anywhere, anytime at a low cost. HP's recently released HP Elite X3is an example of the next wave of computing and commercial mobility. Attaching a miniature diagnostic lab to your smart device will instantly turn it into a data center capable of processing on-site healthcare data into contextual information. The new era of connected health will enable everyone to access personalized medical information and ultimately, lead to an improvement in healthcare delivery, compliance and treatment outcomes.

Locally, Welch Allyn and its parent company Hill-Rom, are also leveraging the convergence of medical technology and digital health through "connected health" to improve health outcomes. Welch Allyn is uniquely positioned to deliver connected health solutions that are patient-centered and physician/provider driven to treat chronic illness.

Their patient-focused innovation has allowed them to couple past infrastructure projects such as mechanical engineering and ergonomics with the connective software and sensor platforms of today to enhance outcomes and deliver mobile interfaces and predictive analytics. Their leadership presence in the physician / clinic space will also help drive patient engagement and adoption. Further, Welch Allyn's extensive experience in streamlining workflow for nurses and doctors through capabilities and relationships in electronic medical record (EMR) integration will be a key enabler. Most recently, Welch Allyn has just committed to adding 100 jobs to its Skaneateles Falls facility in Central New York, furthering its commitment to these solutions and more.

According to the Central New York (CNY) Regional Economic Development Council's 2015 report, "CNY Rising from the Ground Up," biomedical, digital and electronic devices, health services and software and internet services have been classified as key CNY industry concentrations. These industry clusters not only represent total employment growth but serve as opportunity indicators that cannot be ignored. In fact, regional employment growth in the biomedical industry has outpaced the national average.

Concentrating on these crucial industries allows for the introduction of massive growth prospects including the healthcare-Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices; personalized and precision medicine, encompassing medical devices and other biomedical technologies. CNY is an innovative community with potential to fuel economic growth in multiple industries. The region has been tasked with creating a sustainable plan to further develop these industries. I challenge the individuals in this ecosystem to stimulate, develop and productively harness the collective intelligence and the inherent innovative qualities of its people to surpass your potential.

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