New Technologies Presented at Medicine X

New Technologies Presented at Medicine X

I recently had the opportunity to attend Medicine X that ran between September 28 and 30.  Held at Stanford Univeristy, this academic meeting is described at being “a catalyst for new ideas about the future of medicine and emerging technologies.”

Throughout the meeting, I had the opportunity to hear about amazing new technologies and meet incredible thought leaders.  Perhaps most exciting was the chance to meet Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) and discuss the role Google Glass will play in clinical medicine.


Sergey Brin at Medicine X

Sergey Brin at Medicine X

I will highlight a few technologies that I thought could be utilized in our renal program to enhance care or improve efficiencies.


The first technology that impressed me was a service called Medigram.  They are trying to replace archaic and functionally deficient pagers and faxes with a mobile and desktop application that allows meaningful communication that moves patient care forward.

Key features:

  • Eliminate pagers and faxing. Start a team discussion and exchange messages instantly with your colleagues.
  • Share multimedia contact (eg skin lesion, EKG or laceration) with colleagues quickly and easily. All medical images are stored and can be accessed securely.
  • Accessible to the entire health care team.  They have a  native app for iOS or Android platforms and offer access to the service from any computer or tablet device with web access.

Given that members of our program often work at geographically distant sites, we clearly need a better communication tool than pagers.  Maybe Medigram could provide the solution.

Clinicast is an exciting data analysis tool.  Data crunching sounds boring, but our program is currently struggling under the weight of data analysis.  Most of our analysis has to be done manually and can’t easily be applied on patient by patient basis.

Imagine if we had a system that allowed us to crunch our massive database, and tell us on a patient by patient basis which individuals would benefit from additional care or interventions.  Imagine a system that allowed us to determine which PD patients needed a assisted home PD or a respite bed for a while to prevent modality failure.  Or which HD patients needed home care to avoid a hospital admission.  Currently, we use our judgement to decide on allocation of scarce resources.  While the gut feeling of an experienced clinician is extremely valuable, we often fail to be consistent.  Sometimes patients don’t get the additional care they may benefit from and on ocassion, we invest additional resources which likely aren’t critically necesary.

Clinicast is a system which solves these problems using advanced data analytics.

From the company website, “ARTO™ uses machine learning algorithms to create a solution that adapts to each client’s specific needs, delivering individualized recommendations of interventions that are most effective in preventing hospitalization for that client’s patients and care settings.”

I actually had a chance to speak to company co-founder, Jack Challis.  It turns out the company is interested in exploring care optimization for patients with kidney disease.  I’m hoping there will be an opportunity to work with Jack and his team to improve care for our patients with CKD while reducing preventable hospitalization.

Of note, there was a rather critical presentation on the performance of the BC PITO EMR program.  The findings of these researchers certainly meshes with the experience of many nephrologists who have participated in the PITO program.

Overall, the meeting was an exciting but sobering one.  While there are clear opportunities to use technology to improve patient care and efficiency, we need to be sure we implement thoughtfully and with clear deliverables in mind.

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