On Saturday, February 9th, stakeholders in the Indian healthcare space gathered at the CMR Institute of Technology in Bangalore to discuss the opportunities and challenges of healthcare in the 21st century. The event, Health 2.0, was the second of its kind hosted in India, but one of a series of regional events that have taken place since 2007 in cities including San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, and Dubai.Indu Subaiya, Co-Chairman and CEO of Health 2.0, commenced the event with a keynote on Health 2.0 and India’s role in the global community.
The idea was born out of the Web 2.0 movement that began in the early 2000s. Web 2.0 refers to the transformation of the world wide web from being a passive and compartmentalized end-user experience to one of participation, collaboration and communication. “We wanted to apply this same principle to healthcare,” explained Subaiya.
A Health 2.0 technology, Subaiya went on to explain, is one that is adaptable to the medical community, that uses data to drive decisions, and that is focused on the end-user experience.
Following keynotes by Subaiya and Amar Urhekar, EVP for McCann Worldwide, Health 2.0 India Chairman James Mathews directed the event into a series of panel discussions based around six broad categories: “C-Level Entrepreneurs Unplugged,” “Content Mobile and Real Life,” “The Rise of Big Data and Quantified Self,” “Designing For Health Tech,” “Accelerating Health 2.0,” “Culture Technology and Unmentionables.” Each panel featured a diversity of representatives from the entrepreneur community, health-tech corporations, medical professionals, investment firms and design agencies.
The themes that emerged during these panel discussions, presentations, and product demos, shed light on the Health 2.0 movement and the paths being taken to transform modern healthcare.
There could be no better time in history for a Health 2.0 movement than now. The networks and interconnectivity enabled by the modern web has evolved into a space where data is constantly being produced, stored, and shared. Whether we like it or not, our constant exposure to digital data collection, particularly with the emergence of cloud and mobile technology, is leading us into a future in which our technology knows as much about ourselves as we do, and perhaps even more.The implications for healthcare are immense. As pointed to by Sreedhar Potarazu, Chairman of GoodChime!, the same process that Facebook uses to collect information on the lives, habits and preferences of its users is being used by Health 2.0 companies to better understand the health needs of specific demographics, with the potential to shape the space to better meet the demands of these people.
Web 2.0 got the data out there; the question of Health 2.0 is whether this data is useful or not. Sonny Vu, Founder and CEO of Misfit Wearables, noted during his Skype call from Silicon Valley, “It’s not about more data, it’s about better data.”
The question of how to collect more relevant data has received one answer from the number of companies emerging around the idea of the quantified self. Entrepreneurs everywhere are responding to the growing trend of consumers wanting to track their health in real time. “Up to 70% of Americans are somehow tracking their health,” explained Indu Subaiya during her keynote.
The result has been products like Healthify, one of the many products demoed at Health 2.0 on Saturday. Healthify, presented by Co-Founder and CEO Tushar Vashisht, is a mobile and web platform that provides users with an easy way to keep track of his or her consumption of calories, sugar, sodium, and more, simply by selecting each Indian dish they eat from a list built into the app.
A Skype call from Silicon Valley brought Sonny Vu live to Bangalore, where he discussed his own venture, Misfit Wearables, producer of a small clip-on metal device that syncs with your smartphone to allow you to track your daily activity, whether in steps, strides, swim strokes, or bicycle pedals.
Mark Friess, founder of Welvu Foundation, presented his soon to be launched product that enables doctors to share with the patient via mobile application all relevant information regarding the patient’s health, right down to the conversation they have during the appointment. With Welvu, a patient can keep his or her own medical records organized and on hand, ready to share with concerned family, or to present to another doctor for a second opinion.
Information SharingAn opportunity that has never had more promise of being addressed on a wide scale as it has with the emergence of mobile technology is the open sourced exchange of information. Within the realm of healthcare, access to information takes the form of awareness, of one’s body and health, of options for treatment or consultation, of others struggling with the same issue that one might be embarrassed or ashamed to discuss with people he or she knows.
At Health 2.0 a lot of discussion centered around the question of how to use 21st century technology to share health-related information, to spread awareness, and thus promote a healthier society. Two Health 2.0 companies, mDhil and 360Living, are using online and mobile platforms to disseminate information on both physical and mental health, and to generate discussion around taboo subjects most social circles are not bold enough to address.
If the healthcare industry of the 21st century proves to reflect the themes discussed during Health 2.0, it will, above all, be defined by collaboration among businesses, organizations, and individuals working through different means to achieve the same goal. Just as Web 2.0 has given rise to companies that have broken down geographical barriers to communication and information sharing, so will Health 2.0 continue to give rise to companies that break down barriers preventing the widespread adoption of healthcare best practices. Unlike Web 2.0, however, the Health 2.0 movement will depend on far more than an individual and his or her computer. It will depend on the combined, continuous efforts of new and innovative technology, trained medical professionals, dedicated individuals, corporates, and policy makers.
The idea was epitomized on Saturday during the airing of the trailer for upcoming documentary, On The Edge of Collaborative Science. In the trailer, Douglas Thomas, Professor of Cultural Studies of Technology at the Annenburg School for Communication, University of Southern California, references Heidegger’s notion that “the essence of technology is in no way technological; it’s human.”
Indeed, if the end of Health 2.0 is to maximize the quality and accessibility of healthcare around the world, technology alone will not suffice. The challenges at hand require the collaboration of large groups of individuals working with a diversity of technologies to solve different parts of the same puzzle. The gathering of players in the healthcare space at Health 2.0 India on Saturday gave us a glimpse of the potential such a movement has, and of what to look forward to from the Health 2.0 movement.