FutureMed: Hanging Out With the Smartest People in Health Care

Patricia Salber

Posted 2/9/12 on The Doctor Weighs In

Last fall, I decided to splurge on tuition for FutureMed (FM), Singularity University’s week long celebration of all things cutting edge in healthcare and bioscience.  It is only day four of the six day course and already my brain is stuffed with enough info on innovation to last a life time.  Just when I think it can’t get any better, FM rolls out a new speaker on yet another mind-boggling topic: cancer genomics, synthetic biology, robotics, the impact of virtual reality on behavior,  exponential thinking, and more.  Unbelievable…and fun.

We have had the privilege of being inspired by Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize and co-founder (together with Ray Kurzweil) of Singularity University.  Paul Yock, MD shared the experience of the Biodesign Department at Stanford and the work he has been doing with young innovators across the globe.  Richard Satava blew our minds with health related technology developed at DARPA (unmanned rescue helicopters, unmanned ORs, and other aspects of the hospital of the future) and Amir Belson chatted about some of the 64 medical device companies he has founded, each one bringing to market innovations that change medical practice for the better (a modular endoscope that takes the curves with ease, a sure-fire catheter to get the IV in the first time).

We have had demos from startups showing us software and hardware to help us meditate better, do DIY eye refractions, and help stroke victims rehab quicker.  There were first time entrepreneurs (Sensored-a RockHealth nurtured company) sharing space with more experienced entrepreneurs (Tibion).  We got to play with Autodesk software and use a 3D printer (so cool-someday we will print out new organs or maybe even download new shoes).

As if all of this lecture/demo stuff wasn’t enough, FM also treated us to a field trip (yeah):  We spent time trying to do design at Triple Ring Technology with the help of the IDEO folks, cruised around Kaiser’s Garfield Innovation Center with Yan Chow, MD; and marveled at the museum (not sure they used that word) of Autodesk’s global contributions in architecture, film, car/motorcycle design, biology and health….over the top.

We even had a talk by an expert in technology-related crimes (Marc Goodman of Future Crimes) tell us about all the ways that organized crime and others on the dark side can hack into our medical reords and medical devices and blackmail us for fun and money….”Hey Lady, I have hacked your daughters insulin pump and I will kill her if you don’t hand over squadnillion dollars….Hey Doc, I hacked your EMR and will put your patients data on the net if you don’t…well you get the idea…mind boggling and scary.

FM is not a one way “push” of information to a willing group of participants.  Breaktimes and the “Unconference Evening” were buzzing with folks exchanging their ideas for new businesses and new innovations they believe will change healthcare forever (something all of us agree needs to happen sooner rather than later).

Evidently, the participants were “chosen” from a pool of applicants (thank you FM for including me).  Our group included seasoned healthcare executives (from Medco, GE, & Microsoft); entrepreneurs (start-ups and serial ventures), and funders (VC from Israel and Angels).  It also included medical students from around the world (Australia, Italy, and Chile).  We are learning from each other in addition to learning from the incredible faculty.  Good planning, FM.

Singularity University and its health-focused executive program, FutureMed are changing the way we think, learn, interact, innovate, grow businesses and-not to be dismissed-learn to love healthcare all over again.

Thanks to you Daniel Kraft MD (Director of FutureMed), Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder of Singularity University, and all of the terrific staff and faculty of what is one of the most amazing educational experiences of my life.  What a trip….

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