On September 28, 2017, WIB-San Francisco Bay Area hosted a panel discussion at Foley and Lardner, Palo Alto featuring four panelists and a moderator from companies leading in diverse areas of Digital health.
Moderator Michelle Zeman, Clinical Genomics Scientist at Invitae, started the discussion where each panelist--Deborah Kilpatrick (CEO, Evidation Health), Ida Shum (Senior Manager, Business Development at Samsung), Ruchita Sinha (Senior Director Investments, Sanofi Ventures) and Lucia Soares (VP, Healthcare Technology Programs and Delivery, J&J)--presented her perspective on what digital health encompasses in the context of her current role. The panelists highlighted key areas where digital health companies face significant hurdles and, therefore, potentially presenting opportunities for disruption. The relative infancy of the field of digital health presents unique challenges regarding a lack of established business models as well as a paucity of well-defined regulatory and approval guidelines.
Dr. Kilpatrick mentioned that the field is witnessing a cultural shift away from expecting consumers to pay for a service or device. From an investor’s standpoint, Ruchita Sinha mentioned that developing a new technology or application in the field of digital health is not about making a “shiny toy” anymore; instead, a product’s value is assessed by its ability to generate a tangible return of investment. Ida Shum emphasized the value in pairing wearable data with additional behavioral and health information, allowing the synthesis of meaningful connections which results in improved health outcomes for patients.
There is enormous potential for the digital health industry to revolutionize “over-the-counter” space and prevent hospital re-admissions by using patient’s health and behavioral data. Big data availability, however, presents its own unique challenges regarding data gathering, storage, access, and concerns over security and privacy issues, mentioned Lucia Soares. Potential employment opportunities require specific skill sets that include--but are not limited to--data mining, deep learning, artificial intelligence, and experience handling large data sets.
Attendees agreed that the insights provided by our expert panelists were thought provoking and resulted in meaningful discussions during and after the Q&A session. Many thanks to all the attendees, Michelle Zeman for steering the discussion, and the event sponsor, Foley and Lardner, LLP, for hosting us!