What is the exponential future of healthcare? John Nosta, a faculty member at Singularity University, speaks with CXOTalk about the changing environment of healthcare and technology solutions, from artificial intelligence to wearables.
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Nosta is the founder of NOSTALAB, a digital health think tank, and regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in science, medicine and innovation. He’s also a popular speaker on digital health trends, is a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, and has written for Forbes’ Health Critical column.
From the transcript:
(00:02:26) Certainly. The end goal certainly is for patients to do better, but it’s complicated. I often start a lot of my talks by telling people that they’re lucky to be alive today. It’s a special time in human history. Our evolution has been defined by certain key activities: the Industrial Age, the Technology Age.
(00:02:52) We are entering an era of human health defined by life extension and life expansion. It’s interesting because people have often talked about this in the context of the famous inflection point or even the Gutenberg moment. That comes up all the time. For me, it’s not a Gutenberg moment. That’s really underselling the significance of what’s going on in health and medicine today.
(00:03:19) We’re seeing a variety of factors emerging, not the least of which is the social strife around aging, around Alzheimer’s disease, around obesity, around paying for the costs of health. That in and of itself is enough of a human struggle to provide a significant inflection point, but that’s not good enough. Add to that the technological changes. They are amazing, from nanoparticles to CRISPR gene editing to sensors and monitoring. That’s another layer that’s added onto this.
(00:03:57) Interestingly, there’s actually two more from my perspective. There’s one that’s a social empowerment. Today we talk about the democratization of healthcare. People are no longer passive participants in health.
(00:04:09) Think about this, Michael. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, we’d go to the doctor. We’d take the pill that HE gave us, and would be on our way. There was a very one-way direction to that dynamic. Control was in the domain of the physician. I said “he” because that was the classic example of the male physician.
(00:04:34) Today, we’re seeing a fundamental change. I can talk more about that, but there’s another layer, and the layer is very, very interesting because it’s a sense of wonder. This is the less tangible of these factors that are causing this profound human inflection point, but it’s the one that connects not only our brains with the changes but our heart. You have to go no further than the end of your arm to realize this dynamic, and that’s the smartphone.
(00:17:01) Well, yeah, I think that you can take a shot at the United States if you want to and look at it in the healthcare perspective, but the nature of innovation, business, and finance has shaped the globe like no other country in the world. Yes, there’s waste. Yes, there’s excess in the system. But I also think that there are profound, life-changing innovations.
(00:17:25) Let’s not take our eye off the ball. When we look at innovations in the life science industry, we’re looking at things like CRISP gene editing, which is changing the game. Things like immunotherapy: immunotherapy is a fascinating way to treat cancer. It takes your own immune system, revises it subtly, gives it back to you, and you fight your own cancer.
(00:17:50) Think about that. Think about that in the context of traditional chemotherapeutic agents, which are basically metabolic poisons. It’s a poison that kills everything. Because cancer cells divide quicker than other cells, it kind of kills that first, and then we hope you survive on the other end of that equation.
(00:18:06) I think we’re seeing profound innovations in healthcare that can lead to extraordinary cost savings. I’ll give you two classic examples right now. One is this simple, little device that takes your EKG. It was invented by a company called AliveCor. It uses your smartphone and it looks for an arrhythmia, a beating abnormality in your heart. It looks for a variety of them, but one is called atrial fibrillation, which contributes to stroke.