Sunday, March 17, 2013

South By Southwest 2013: An EndoGoddess Perspective

I am a patient, doctor, and a technology consumer early adopter (aka geek).

As a technology consumer early adopter, my life is comfortable and modern: I communicate with friends across the world in an instant, I deposit checks using my smartphone and I find anything I want to buy and then purchase it too. As a doctor, whether I like it or not, I must use archaic technology such as fax machines to confirm letters of medical necessity, prescriptions with pharmacies, and communication with school nurses. As a patient, I must actively advocate and fight for what I need with multiple long phone calls: making a claim with my health insurance, keeping up with my mail order medication refills, making an appointment, finding out my lab results.

Currently, I occupy all worlds at separate times. However, at South By Southwest, it was possible to imagine living in all worlds at the same time…and to randomly audition for a movie role too (yes, on a lunch break, I did just that). Here are a few of my favorite examples from this year’s meeting that really sparked my imagination as a doctor, patient, and technology consumer:

Despite an electric atmosphere of optimism, South By started out with a message of caution from All Gore. He discussed both the opportunities and the responsibilities specific to new technologies that are making their way into the future from South By. Specifically, he pointed out some of the ‘stalker-like technology’ social applications as well as ground-breaking genetic science technologies that must be created and used with caution: identity theft, security concerns, ethical concerns.

Aetna had a big presence at South By this year reflecting their dedication to making the newest and the best technology products. CarePass Sync is a new platform they have launched this month which helps move health-related data between apps that Aetna has curated. Once an Aetna patient has downloaded a CarePass Sync enabled app, they can choose to enable sync, and agree to give the app permission to accessed certain components of their CarePass Sync “personal health cloud”, as Aetna calls it. Each patient's personal data then automatically populates the apps that each user wants to download.

Portable 3D printers roamed around the conference center advertising easy, modern, personalized creations and communication. Tons of implications for healthcare but in this day and age it would just be nice to replace the fax machine for communication.

Neurowear was one of my favorites in the exhibit hall. Brain wave analysis through headphones were translated to a representative song choice: mine was a space invader song after viewing the Minecraft and gaming expo; but the guy standing in line to try Neurowear right before me had Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' on his mind...nonetheless, a fun way to interpret and personalize health quantifications.

Anyone wearing google glasses were instant celebrities such as this guy who posed for my picture. Google glasses are a high profile example of wearable tech which had a big presence. Translations to healthcare and virtual gaming are currently only fantasy but likely to be reality in 1-2 years.

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, uses data to personalize and modernize tasks. One of my favorite examples was TempoAI which analyzes your email, phone conversations, and calendar behaviors to push the link or phone number you need right before your conference call meeting. Certainly, the data provided from wearable sensors like google glass could have large implications for healthcare. However, progress is stalled in the field of AI and healthcare until liability is better understood. Thus, AI will only be applied to calendars and personal assistants at the moment.

A low tech, high touch favorite moment of mine was meeting grumpy cat at the Mashable station. Sometimes a cute frown and a low tech star at a high tech meeting are just the right ironies.

As a participant since the beginning of the health track at South By in 2011, it is thrilling to see how health tech has grown. The excitement in the air was electric this year! We are certainly witnessing the start of a new era and future as patients, doctors, and technology consumers which looks to be not only comfortable and modern but fun and personalized too!