In-Depth: News recap of Health 2.0's Fall Conference

By MobiHealthNews
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This week in Santa Clara marked the 10th anniversary for Health 2.0, a health tech conference held every year in Silicon Valley to explore the progress being made in the digital health space and the challenges that remain. MobiHealthNews was onsite all four days of the conference and below we’ve rounded up our coverage of the event, plus quite a few presentations and bits of news that didn’t make the newsletter earlier this week.
 
Snake oil revisited
 
Though the buzz has finally started to fade from the news cycle, Health 2.0 cofounder Matthew Holt couldn’t resist bringing American Medical Association CEO James Madara on stage to take him to task for his now famous “snake oil” comments from the spring.
 
“Last year, you sat here in this chair and you were super nice to us,” Holt joked. “Then, I’m on my vacation in Vietnam and my Twitter feed starts blowing up with this snake oil stuff. Do you love us or do you hate us?”
 
Madara responded that “there is love and there is hate”, citing the AMA’s work with Omada Health as an example of a digital health intervention he loved and the troublingly inaccurate blood pressure app Instant Blood Pressure as one he hated.
 
“Why raise a siren now with this intentionally used term ‘snake oil’? The reason now is I think we’re in a period of criticality for [digital health]. The criticality is that there’s no regulatory framework. I think digital health is going to be part of the transformation of healthcare. But if this is so important for healthcare, does anyone think that it’s going to continue to be unregulated?”
 
Madara thinks the industry needs self-regulation of apps and connected devices that’s robust enough that HHS will grant legitimacy to those efforts. He thinks relying too heavily on the FDA could result in regulations that are “heavy-handed, they overreach, and they’re one-size-fits-all”.
 
But also … snake bites?
 
One of the most interesting presentations at the pre-conference pharma roundtable was from Deloitte, which contracted with pharma company BTG to create Snakebite 911, an app to help users avoid snake bites and respond effectively in the event of a snake bite. BTG makes Crofab, an antivenom for North American pit viper bites.
 
Matthew Guest, head of digital strategy consulting at Deloitte, talked about how using a lean startup methodology helped BTG develop the app on a faster product cycle than the company was used to, and how a good understanding of the customer’s needs and behaviors informed the development.
 
“This one’s all about understanding your customers as human beings,” he said. “The snake tracker was very controversial, because we didn’t want people going to find snakes. That would probably have led to good use of the drug, but it’s not really the outcome we were looking for.”
 
Health 2.0 move over, Health 3.0 is here
 
A few days before the conference, healthcare investor Dave Chase and athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush teamed up to pen an editorial arguing that Health 1.0 — healthcare before computers was inefficient, but healthcare today (Health 2.0) has lost the human touch and made doctors spend too much time in service of EMRs and documentations. The next era in healthcare, they argue, will combine the best aspects of the two, and make technology serve patient care, rather than the other way around.
 
Bush took the stage on Wednesday and expounded on some more of the specifics of that idea, saying that it would take large EHR vendors committing to a real connectivity to allow the real value of digital health technologies to scale.
 
“You’ve got all these ideas, you do the demos, they make sense,” he said. “But they don’t explode, they don’t lift off. I think people will get out of enterprise software or the enterprise software companies will remake themselves. You’re already seeing the Mad Hatter talking about pulling the various instances of Epic together, making it more of a network. As that happens, that concept of an internet makes the ability to really blow out, to make money quickly a possibility in healthcare.”
 
Karen DeSalvo on the digital health revolution

The shift of government, the private sector and consumers of coming together to tackle the biggest problems in healthcare is starting to show, and the best indication is the innovation in digital health. But in order to do more, all parties must continue working together and providing opportunities in the form of policies, partnerships and information. That was the takeaway from a speech by Karen DeSalvo, HHS’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, at Health 2.0.
“We’ve seen some historic changes in the last eight years,” said DeSalvo. “And I think sometimes we begin to take them for granted, but it’s been an incredible opportunity to really put people first and recognize that they are at the center of all of this.” More