Digital doesn’t necessarily mean impersonal. At least not in the healthcare industry, according to Dapo Tomori, SF ’09, Senior Director of Medical Affairs, CNS, at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. “Digital tools give us the opportunity to personalize care to an unprecedented level,” he says. “Digital can be a better way to get information to patients, physicians, payers, and policymakers so that all of them, individually and in concert, can make more informed decisions with better outcomes.”
Dr. Tomori believes that the healthcare industry has a responsibility to continually tap the latest digital capabilities—a broad spectrum of technologies that are increasing the pertinence and personalization of information. “It’s important to channel the latest innovations in science and medicine to improve real-world patient and population outcomes. The digitization of the healthcare ecosystem improves communication on multiple levels, and communication is at the root of so many advances in healthcare. Technology innovation can enable what we call P4 medicine – predictive, preemptive, personalized, and participatory.”
It’s critically important, Dr. Tomori notes, to take into consideration behavioral factors and societal trends when developing technology-enabled patient solutions and gives as an example the current impulse to simplify our digital lives. “Our messaging, music, camera, and GPS are integrated now into a single device—our phone—which we carry with us everywhere out of necessity. People don’t want to have to keep track of additional devices, so inventing a new handheld gadget may be less helpful than inventing a phone app that accomplishes the same task.”
Radar. The word conjures up images of colossal metal dishes pointed toward impending danger. Anupam Nayak, SF ’10, is out to replace that old black and white picture we now have imprinted on our brains with images of fuzzy slippers and warm blankets. She and Lucas van Ewijk, former head of the radar department at TNO, the leading Dutch research institute, and a small group of entrepreneurs have decided it’s time to free radar from its confined military identity. Radar is a powerful, versatile tool, they believe, and can be a crucial game changer in other realms. Healthcare, for example.
“We realized we could install a radar device the size of a business card in a patient’s room—either at home or in the hospital—to monitor respiration and other vital signs,” Nayak says. The idea of continuous patient monitoring blossomed into the startup Applied Radar Technology, which successfully navigated three years of regulatory trials before attracting the attention of the marketplace. She and van Ewijk decided to set up a new entity, VDisha, that can truly expand radar research and commercialization into the healthcare realm. In collaboration with government-funded radar research groups in the Netherlands, their aim is to expand VDisha into a multi-million dollar international initiative, bringing in partners from research groups around the world.
Featured in FierceHealthcare’s “9 People to Watch in Healthcare,” David Rosenman, SF ’12, is changing the system one doctor at a time. Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Founding Director of the Preclinical Block at the Mayo Medical School, Rosenman is creating a new breed of physicians who are well rounded and patient-centered—as adept at communication as they are at diagnosis.
Rosenman oversees the preclinical block, a transition course for medical students that takes place at the very midpoint of their medical school experience, that all-important segue between the first two preclinical and second two clinical years. The Mayo Clinic’s preclinical block is the longest and most comprehensive in medical education, spanning the breadth of healthcare—pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, and a dozen other specialties.
Craig Bunnell, SF ’08, Chief Medical Officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has been negotiating the steep hills and deep valleys of government-mandated healthcare since Massachusetts became the first state to institute health insurance reform in 2006. As healthcare providers now fear about the Affordable Care Act, the revamped system and its subsequent amendments in 2008, 2010, and 2012, disrupted the status quo, forcing organizations and individuals to rethink their positions in the marketplace.
Although Bunnell acknowledges that new health insurance realities have posed prodigious difficulties, he’s not interested in rolling back time. “Change is difficult,” Bunnell says, “but necessary. We have an ethical and economic imperative to repair this nation’s healthcare system. Yes, we felt the disruption of the Massachusetts healthcare law, but we also saw the impact. After the legislation was introduced, that percentage of uninsured in Massachusetts dropped to one to two percent—the percentage of uninsured across the rest of the country is somewhere around 14 %.” [The federal percentage has been steadily dropping under the new healthcare law.]