Attendance at the second annual Driving the Future of Digital Health conference was more than twice as high as the previous year’s, with over 200 Ontario digital health professionals converging at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto to connect with and learn from speakers, panelists, exhibitors, and one another.
Digital Health Canada’s CEO Mark Casselman kickstarted the day by introducing opening keynote speaker Dr. Zayna Khayat, Future Strategist, SE Health. Dr. Khayat spoke about “The Future of Health(care) in a Digital World”. Massive change is coming to our health system in this era of digitization and democratization. However, our systems of healthcare were designed some 150 years ago and were neither built nor groomed to adapt to change at this scale. Dr. Zayna Khayat explored how new digital tools, consumer pull and unsustainable business models are accelerating the shift towards the future of health(care) and what steps we can take now to align/orient ourselves to this future.
Next up was a panel addressing “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Healthcare: The Future is Now”. This featured Tatiana Lomasko (Head of Operations and Strategic Partnerships, SOSCIP), who talked about “Driving Innovation with Advanced Computing” and Linda Kaleis (Lead Data Scientist, MEMOTEXT), who spoke about “Using Machine Learning to Design Precision Engagement”. Bill Simpson ( Medical Science Liaison, Winterlights Labs) spoke on “Monitoring Cognitive Health Through Speech”. Said Bill: “Drug development in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is hampered by our ability to identify at-risk groups before the onset of clinically significant symptoms. WinterLight Labs is addressing this problem by pioneering a speech-based AI technology which will help accurately predict and monitor risk for dementia years before a clinical diagnosis is obtained. Our approach has the potential to help researchers identify dementia in its earliest stages, improve our understanding of the illness and assist in the development of new drug interventions.”
After the break, a Virtual Keynote from the esteemed Dr. Walter Greenleaf (Research Neuroscientist and Medical Product Developer, Stanford University) was followed by a panel discussion on “Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – Changing Reality for the Patient”. Dr. Lora Appel (Post-doc Research Fellow, OpenLab) discussed the impressive results of using VR to help older patients with mood and mobility issues. Drs. Fahad Alam (Anesthesiologist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) and Clyde Matava (Anesthesiologist, The Hospital for Sick Children) discussed how their VR tool helps patients become accustomed to the operating room, reducing post-surgical stress and its resultant co-morbidities.
Michael Thibodeau (HoloLens & Mixed Reality Lead, Microsoft Canada) spoke about “Understanding how to leverage the spectrum of MR technologies in healthcare” and Mona Al-Rei (Research Associate, McMaster University) presented on “Automated 3D Brain Cancer Visualization” as part of the “Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality –Training and Education” panel.
Attendees took a break from listening by interacting with the exhibitors in the Experience Showcase, featuring some very cool AR/VR products as well as useful apps and demos from the digital health innovators at Novari, Gevity, Morneau Schepell, MEMOTEXT, CloudDX, iamsick, Mediseen, OPTT, ActiveSTAK, Deloitte, and INVIVO.
After lunch, Will Falk (Executive in Residence, Think Research) and Dr. Sacha Bhatia (Director, Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care, Women’s College Hospital) explored the concept of building a sensible policy framework for virtual care, to provide opportunities for a thriving community of Canadian digital companies to expand, while helping support doctors and nurses better care for patients in their plenary session: “How Virtual Care is Modernizing Canada’s Healthcare System to Meet the Needs of Patients and their Families.”
A presentation on “Bots and Robotics: Transformation and Innovation Challenges and Methods” from Emmanuel Casalino (Health Practice, Ernst and Young) and Janos Nadas (Sr Manager, Deloitte Canada) addressed how transforming an organization to embrace automation or identifying how to innovatively leverage robots is not a straightforward task.
Mark Rajack (Innovation and Partnerships, Niagara HealthDigital) fielded a number of questions from the audience after presenting “Trust and Mobile: Driving Scale and Unlocking Future Innovations of Connected Digital Health” – an overview of how emerging technologies and design patterns such as federated digital trust and blockchain will change how patients and providers interact with the healthcare system by delivering a truly scaled out secure ecosystem of mobile applications and services that will drive the connected digital health system of the future.
Sarah Hutchison (Chief Executive Officer, OntarioMD) asked tough questions like “how can we engage in dialogue, listen to ideas and understand the importance of integrating patient information to learn about what it takes to engage and support physicians and other healthcare providers with digital health? How to get their input so that they champion its value to their colleagues?” in her presentation “Not Without Me: The End User in the Digital Health System.”
The highly interactive closing panel on “Engaging Patients in Their Communities” featured Dr. Puneet Seth (Chief Medical Officer, InputHealth), Will Falk (Executive in Residence, Think Research), Dr. Sacha Bhatia (Director, WCH-WIHV), and Sarah Hutchison (OntarioMD) fielding relevant questions from the audience, still engaged and connected with a full day of new and critical ideas.
Digital Health Canada (@DigiHealthCA ) is an association that connects influential and diverse digital health professionals across industries through IT, advocating for the Canadian Digital Health industry. Read the highlights of last year’s conference here.