Digital Health Leaders Offer Invaluable Insights to Being Successful in a Booming Marketplace

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Main Takeaways from Day One of the Digital Health Summer Summit in San Francisco

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It’s critical that academic medical centers continue to be included in this next phase of innovation in healthcare because if they’re not, patients will lose choice and access to some of the best minds in medicine

The Digital Health Summer Summit kicked off in San Francisco yesterday with a series of pre-conference workshops designed to arm attendees with the tools needed to run a successful digital health venture. The summit continues today with a look at what’s in store for the industry through the lens of futurist Joe Flower, sessions offering insight into the crucial elements of building a successful digital health industry, and three case studies that showcase the growing importance of partnerships. Friday, June 20, the agenda will begin with a keynote address from Jeff Arnold, founder of WebMD & Sharecare, and includes an exclusive report from Frost & Sullivan on today’s top growth opportunities. The summit will wrap up with a rare gathering of leading technology innovation centers, UCSF, Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente, showcasing the cutting edge innovations enabling them to address critical healthcare issues. Onsite registration will be available both days.


The “Health Innovators Startup Bootcamp,” produced in collaboration with Rock Health, the leading digital health full-service seed fund, brought together frontline regulatory and technical experts to tackle everything from new payment models, to the technology needed to support patient access to their own data, to open federal data and app security.

New Payment Models

Among the hot topics addressed, ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations), partnerships among various providers created to better manage healthcare and take on financial risk for specific populations.

“Healthcare is getting too expensive and, from the patient perspective, it’s fragmented and uncoordinated,” said Dr. Ami Parekh, Medical Director, Health System Innovation, UCSF. “We think ACOs are part of the solution to these problems and a step toward true healthcare delivery innovation.”

Dr. Parekh stressed, “It’s critical that academic medical centers continue to be included in this next phase of innovation in healthcare because if they’re not, patients will lose choice and access to some of the best minds in medicine.”

“It's great to see the payment models shift toward value because it is unleashing a new wave of healthcare IT companies, which will benefit both the patients and the providers,” said Eric Page, CEO, Amplify Health. “With the shift to value-based payment models, it's critically important that providers use data to determine what is effective and what isn't, and also invest in the right analytics infrastructure to ensure that they are optimizing outcomes.”

Blue Button, the Patient Access Movement & Consumer Information Exchange

Participants also discussed Blue Button, the initiative that allows patients to easily and securely access their health records online, and the supporting portfolio of standards that will lower the cost of entry and complexity for developers, and also drive value for patients.

“Data is the fuel that will drive innovation in healthcare,” said Doug Frisdma, MD, PhD, Chief Science Officer & Director, Office of Science and Technology in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). “We need to partner with the developer and innovation community to formulate standards, services and policies to access data so that patients can securely access their personal health information and serve as change agents for their own healthcare.”

Open Federal Data

Open Cancer Network presented a case study on the benefits of using Open Federal Data, discussing their app and mission to create a 360 degree non-clinical patient platform.

“Open Federal Data has been available for several years now, yet it’s underutilized by app developers,” said Dr. Maksim Tsvetovat, CTO, Open Cancer Network. “It’s critical to drive awareness of the data that’s out there, make it usable, and communicate the value to using it in the development of healthcare related apps. It can and should be used by app developers.”

“There is enormous opportunity hidden within open federal datasets, but there is also enormous opportunity to be part of the movement to free additional data, ensure it’s usable through open data formats and standards, and demonstrate its value,” said Rebecca Coelius, MD, Health Vertical Lead, Code for America.

Building Privacy and Security into Your App    

Fenwick and West LLP and Aptible addressed two of the key issues on developers’ minds: privacy, the legal issues surrounding health data, as well as security, preventing unauthorized access to this data.

“Startups in the healthcare mobile environment must set privacy and security as top priorities in order to be successful,” said Stefano Quintini, Partner, Technology Transactions, Fenwick and West LLP. “Data is a key business asset for companies in this space; however, it is only by building trust around the use of data that startups can attract customers and ultimately collect the data they need.”

“Startups and companies trying to innovate need to collect as much data as possible, as they won’t know what data is meaningful until they experiment with it,” said Chas Ballew, CEO & co-founder of Aptible. “The best startups embrace the regulatory burden and risks of owning that data. They use their security and compliance processes as a competitive advantage when selling to hospitals, health insurance companies, and self-insured employers.”

Product Development Lab

Ximedica, a leading healthcare product development accelerator, and 3Derm led a “Product Development Lab” designed to educate researchers, designers and development teams on how to successfully bring a product to market while also ensuring continued product success following launch.

“Startups need to understand all the boxes they have to check in order to take a product to market under FDA guidelines is key to their ultimate success,” said Aidan Petrie, Chief Innovation Officer, Ximedica. “Without fully planning resource needs and timelines, they can run out of runway and dilute their equity unnecessarily.”

“The biggest challenge for startups in the digital health space is that they have minimal funding,” said Liz Asai, CEO and Co-founder, 3Derm. “Investors want to see your technology, your team and your customer base, which doesn’t leave many dollars for regulatory, something that may not pay off for another five to ten years.”

Asai advised, “Many startups see the FDA as the enemy, one that takes your money and stalls you; however, as a startup, investing in regulatory can be the biggest differentiator and the one that helps you beat out the company that hacked an app together over the weekend. The FDA can be your friend.”

About Living in Digital Times
Founded by veteran technology journalist Robin Raskin, Living in Digital Times brings together the most knowledgeable leaders and the latest innovations impacting both technology and lifestyle. It helps companies identify and act on emerging trends, create compelling company narratives, and do better business through strong network connections. Living in Digital Times produces the following conferences, exhibits and events at International CES and other locations throughout the year: Digital Health Summit, Silvers Summit, Sports & Fitness Tech Summit, TransformingEDU, Kids@Play Summit, MommyTech Summit, Battle of the Bands, Mobile Apps Showdown, Last Gadget Standing, FashionWare, Robotics on the Runway, and the KAPi Awards. For more information, visit

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