Building self-monitoring healthcare technology into everyday living
"I was delighted to be invited to present in two sessions at this year's World Economic Forum. The theme of this year's meeting was 'The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business'. The overall aim of the event was to develop insights, initiatives and actions necessary to respond to current and emerging challenges.
The first session in which I gave a presentation was a one-hour Betazone session which discussed how engineering, chemistry and biology can combine to create digital health. I explained how the digital health platforms which we are developing in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and with Oxehealth can transform the management of chronic diseases in the next decade. I also moderated the session, and my co-presenters were Andrew Thompson, the CEO of Proteus Digital Health and Dr Steve Cole a biologist from UCLA. Together we showed how developments in science, technology and machine learning can lead to a step change in the way we maintain health and well-being.
For what can only be described as a packed IdeasLab the next morning, I was joined by fellow Oxford academics to discuss 'Data, Machines and the Human Factor'. The line-up for the discussion was as follows: Professor Ian Golding on the future of machine intelligence, Dr Chris Linott discussing citizen science and its application in real-life situations, and Professor Helen Margetts discussing how we now take collective action in an online society. I spoke about building self-monitoring healthcare technology into everyday lives.
I explained that telehealth had so far mostly failed, because it relied on patients using self-monitoring equipment in their own homes, with little or no support. Machine intelligence is required to help patients understand their readings in the context of their disease and its current trends. Digital health platforms have to be made user-friendly so that they can be fully integrated into people's lives. This includes making the data collection as easy as possible. I introduced non-contact vital-sign monitoring, which was a new concept to most of the audience. I was able to give a brief explanation of how the Oxecam software is able to monitor the breathing rate, heart rate and oxygen levels of individuals via a camera, with no sensors or electrodes attached to them. You can watch my presentation and others from the conference on YouTube.
These talks on digital health generated a lot of interest and so my four days in Davos were very busy, with many stimulating discussions. There is no doubt that digital health, the application of machine intelligence to health and well-being, is now firmly on the agenda in both Europe and the US, especially now that Obamacare is starting to make a difference on the ground."