Last week I went along to the Digital Health World Congress 2017. An interesting event because unlike, say, Wired Health, which looks at future trends from an unbiased point of view, DHWC is dominated by individual companies. I heard some very good speakers make some very good points. From a healthcare marketing agency perspective, here are some of the things I took away from the event.

1. The patient is everything (thankfully)

The Chief Medical Officer of Cambridge University Hospitals showcased MyPatient. This portal gives patients 100% visibility of their medical status. Viewing appointments, changing details, monitoring medications, seeing test results… It certainly puts the power back in the hands of the patient, allowing them to take responsibility for their own health. And yes, it will no doubt cut down some of the admin time of the GP. But will it raise ethical issues? Families could now see inherited conditions via shared family access, for example. And this kind of ‘patient-centric’ (the buzzword of the conference) approach could make it harder for clinicians to break and manage bad news.

2. The Internet of Things comes with a ‘but’

As you can see, IoT may well be the future of centric patient care. And I agree with Philip Hooker from Cumulocity that IoT can improve patient monitoring, increase nursing efficiency, improve tracking of capital equipment and, of course, improve the quality of life for patients. IoT is also, I believe, driving predictive analysis forward. But with open architecture and 50 billion devices talking to each other, there are big issues with security and accessibility, data privacy, cost efficiency and gold old-fashioned reliability. The future of healthcare is very much in the hands of tech giants, such as Siemens, Philips and IBM.

3. Chat bots are making quality healthcare available for all

Babylon Health discussed the development and advantages of chat bots in healthcare. Gone are the days of simple, standard triage. They’re moving towards something altogether more advanced. By accessing a patient’s records and collecting data from day to day they can help with diagnosis. The ultimate aim is to actually predict future health issues before they happen. Pretty amazing really. Thanks to powerful modelling and more sophisticated AI, it’s a big step forward to making healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone – it will no doubt have a huge impact on outcome based remuneration funding.

4. Data can do it all (one day)

The truth is, the role of AI in healthcare will grow and grow to offer a 3600 patient offering. From managing your health conditions to wellness, including things like genomics. Indeed, for me the overriding message from the two-day conference was that ‘data’ is the new ‘doctor’.

All in all it was a very enlightening event. I’m already looking forward to next year’s.