Artificial Intelligence
April 23–25, 2018
Boston, MA • United States

Reflections on Day 1 of the World Medical Innovation Forum

Neurocare - 1

The almost $700 billion annual spend in neurodegenerative diseases tells a story of a global community struck by an array of stubborn neurological conditions and challenged by drug discovery, delivery, care, regulatory protocols, and economic and organizational practices serving at cross-purposes. Yet, there was something inspirational and I dare say hopeful about the presenters’ opinions of what’s to come.

Technology, transparency, and passion appeared central to the secret sauce. Much was stated about the power of smart devices allowing the organic evolution of large data sets to evolve and yield insight and action in a scalable fashion not seen till now.

Second, transparency, or specifically data and process transparency, appeared thematic as another dimension supporting progress. That is, having enhanced access and data deployment through analytics, machine interfaces, and control mechanisms further influenced interventions. This may, in cases, lead to more precise mapping, stimulating, manipulating, and modulating of circuits, genes, and varied organs in a more predictive, synergistic fashion — yielding greater value and utility.

Additionally, the collective process and arrangement of organized inquiry, aggregation, experimentation, and delivery may interestingly be compared to a very different but similarly transparent process.

In the food and beverage industry, the fast-casual restaurant segment is very popular. Chipotle Restaurant, the leader in this segment, allows diners to self-select and view the assembling of an array of diverse ingredients for a given order. The interaction effects of the employee and customer publicly engaging in the co-design and build effort yields more satisfaction, efficiency, and taste with both creator and consumer, as noted in the restaurant surveys. Similarly, in health care research, such increased process transparency is no less immaterial in the discovery-delivery value chain.

Third, it seems the very human quality of passion and / or emotion, can also play an out-sized role in the direction and dynamics of next gen neuroscience. Many stories about the fear surrounding Alzheimer’s is self-evident here. As described, we have all heard of some version of the hapless wonderer in the parking lot seeking their car, keys or both, much to one’s frustration. This example, perhaps associated with Alzheimer’s, can easily and obviously be substituted with other neurodegenerative diseases, as well.

On the hopeful side, passion was referenced as a motivator that has led to an activist public seeking answers. Their intent has further engaged some to experiment in varied ways that on occasion has yielded surprising, timely, and consequential data.

While there is much to hope for, there are equally many daunting challenges requiring attention. Certainly, as always, understanding the fundamental root causes, relationships, pathways, and protocols of the disease state is central. However, just as daunting on a more macro-level is the institutional – organizational arrangement in moving beyond silos to varied operating forms of collaboration, coordination, “co-opitition,” and disruption.

The clarion call for innovation at a cellular or genomic level can also be matched with one for social innovation. That is the experimentation for team and organizational architectures to have more appropriately employed decision rights, accountability mechanisms, resource management, and role agility — all in the service of empowering knowledge creation and application in a more expedient, practical and generative fashion when called for.

Finally, economic innovation is perhaps recognized as an equally stubborn yet central player in creating an optimal future for balancing the incentives for payers, payees, and providers. Agile business and operating models, governance mechanisms, and investment models will need to be created and adjusted as the field continues to mature at different stages of capability and practice.

Posted By Mark Sullivan, PhD