GeekWire Summit Recap: Stars of the Regence Health Tech Stage

October 12, 2018
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By Kendal Kemery

Image courtesy Geekwire/Kevin Lisota

The 2018 GeekWire Summit in Seattle welcomed technologists across industries for three days of thought-provoking talks, and Regence was honored to sponsor the summit’s first-ever dedicated Health Tech stage. The stage provided a collaborative forum for researchers, clinicians, startups, providers and techies alike to share perspectives on the future of health. Will medical data ever reach the point of continuous capture and distribution, breaking down siloed health information? How much of physician care can – and should – be replaced with machine learning and artificial intelligence? Is balance between research and timely execution possible in a system synonymous with regulations and bureaucracy? These were just a few of the questions asked of 12 panel experts at this year’s summit.

StarTrek-like diagnoses

In the first session, Luke Timmerman of Timmerman Report pried open the collaborative diagnostic partnership of Microsoft’s Desney Tan and Adaptive Biotechnologies’ Chad Robins. Powered with Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure and AI analysis capabilities, Adaptive’s decade of chemistry and biotechnology experience uses blood analysis to look at the adaptive immune system. As the ultimate sensor, the human body presents a diagnostic opportunity akin to Star Trek’s fabled tricorder; sharing medical history and telltale signs of emerging conditions as it interacts and adapts.

Genetics, diet and living to 200

T.A. McCann of Pioneer Square Labs moderated the second session based on his How to Live to 200 podcast. He questioned the inevitability of aging with regenerative evidence from Arivale CEO Clayton Lewis and M3 Biotechnology CEO Leen Kawas. Health trends put wellness on a pedestal in the common but aren’t sustainable long term. Lewis shared his experience following a paleo diet with limited results, only to discover later through Arivale’s testing, his high-fat low-carb diet wasn’t the optimal fuel for his genetic blueprint. The directional, not definitive nature of a person’s genome defines only the first chapter of health; diet, exercise, lifestyle, and environmental exposures determine how the code is translated. With more wellness data at a consumer’s fingertips than ever before, it is important to connect that well of information with actionable goals. Kawas reminded the audience not to fixate on any one datapoint, and that consumers control their tools – not the other way around.

Making medicine (more) personalized

The final morning session, The Power of Personalized Medicine, brought together Corey Schmid, general partner at Seven Peaks Ventures, Jay Shendure, a genome sciences professor at the University of Washington, Vineti co-founder Heidi Hagen, and Elizabeth Krakow, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Each explained their use applications for extracting unique patient data from aggregations to provide more tailored treatments. Shendure discussed UW’s genome science advancements with CRISPR, allowing creation and testing of risks across all possible mutations of unknown genome marker variances. Immersed in the business of CAR-T therapies, Hagen provided a commercial take on the reintroduction of a cancer patient’s edited T-cells that can be individually reprogrammed to dismantle tumors. Dr. Krakow encapsulated her work using statistical methods and machine learning match more successful bone marrow transplants.

The critical role of primary care

Primary care can be thought of as the gatekeeper of the $3 trillion health care industry, and a jumping-off point for specialty care recommendations. If automation were to take over, what would the implications be for the journey as a whole? GeekWire’s Clare McGrane moderated the panel and sought answers from 98point6 CEO Robbie Cape, One Medical Group CTO Kimber Lockhart and Vera Whole Health CEO Ryan Schmid in the Future of Primary Care panel. Estimating a shortage of 20,000 doctors in the US, Schmid argued machines will become key players in closing the gap. Cape summed up the challenge for technologists as fusing the opportunities of deep technology with the value of a medical professional’s training and experience.

Technology and predictive learning

In the final panel, Echo Health Ventures Partner and moderator Anisha Sood posed questions to Saykara CEO Harjinder Singh and Mindshare Medical CTO Michael Calhoun around AI’s applications for health care.

Predictive learning can reduce physician burnout, using Saykara’s voice recognition to streamline electronic medical recordkeeping, and more accurately characterize imaging anomalies, with Mindshare’s visual diagnostic algorithms. Sood reminded the audience: “Data is a key point. There is a lot of bias that underlies the data we have. AI can potentially expose or accentuate that.” Singh and Calhoun agreed that medical developments and the ways providers tend to their patients are best informed by data.

Keeping the health tech conversation going

The Summit may be over, but Regence is committed to keeping the discussion on health technology advancement going. We are proud to announce an ongoing partnership with GeekWire as a Health and Life Sciences underwriting sponsor. Starting this fall, readers can expect bylines from our top executives and medical professionals bringing insight to tomorrow’s health systems.

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