The Atlantic Conference: Inventing The Future of Healthcare

November 4, 2015

By: Samar Ladhib

On October 15th 2015, a town hall focused on reinventing the future of healthcare was hosted by the prestigious journal The Atlantic in New York City. The event, held at the New Museum,  drew a group of entrepreneurs, doctors, researchers, business leaders, health advocates and health officials to discuss what truly data-driven health care will look like — and how it could lead to a healthier population and more prosperous economy.

Big data has garnered a massive amount of interest from the healthcare industry over the last decade. Data from patients has been captured, stored and analyzed in the hopes of improving their experience and delivering an optimal solution to their needs. The use of big data brings the promise of nothing short of a revolution in a space that stands to greatly benefit from an increase in productivity, effectiveness and precision. A myriad of newly formed digital healthcare companies are working hard on leveraging big data analytics to deliver just that.

However, despite the spectacular strides that have been made in collecting data, delays in analysis and long lead times before extracting actionable insights have cast a shadow over the possibility of changing things any time soon.

Renowned healthcare professionals debated these very questions at the town hall: How to generate real insights from data to improve outcomes? How can healthcare stakeholders take advantage of big data? How can we insure that everyone in this system stands to profit from these insights? And finally, what are the patients’ expectations from data mining and big data analytics?


Steve Clemons (Washington Editor-at-Large, the Atlantic), Christopher Boone (CEO of Health Data consortium), Esther Dyson (Chairman at EDV Venture), Allan Pollard (CEO of Vitality Group) Photo Credit:  Elena Olivo Photography



After a warm welcome from Emily Akhtarzandi (Managing Director of The Atlantic Live), the first panel kicked off the proceedings by discussing “The Commercialization and Personalization of Space”. Christopher Boone (CEO of Health Data consortium) emphasized on the huge interest not only from the healthcare providers but also from the general public, while Esther Dyson (Chairman at EDV Venture) stressed the importance of having a holistic approach to analyzing big data as well as putting this information into context when interpreting it. Allan Pollard (CEO of Vitality Group) shared his strategy and revealed how giving incentives to insurers ultimately produces better engagement level from patients.

Mary Louise Kelly (Contributing Editor, the Atlantic), Leonard Kish (Principal, VivaPhi), Ryan Panchadsaram (Deputy CTO at the Excecutive Office of the President), Katherine Hempstead (Director of Health Insurance Coverage, robert Wood Johnson Foundation), Ashish Atreja (Director of Sinai AppLab and CTO and engagement officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center) Photo Credit:  Elena Olivo Photography



A second discussion panel brought together representatives from government agencies, startups and hospital innovation labs to discuss the importance of designing solutions around patients and how to integrate them into the process of creation. The panel also discussed how new technologies and data collection are democratizing the way we innovate and empowering the patients. On that topic, Ryan Panchadsaram (Deputy CTO at the Executive Office of the President) argued that empowering patients allowed innovators to create better services and applications. Panchadsaram also stressed the importance of creating feedback loops to further improve the iterative process as well the importance of actually tying data to actions: delivering the right data to right person at the right time. Leonard Kish (VivaPhi) and Ashish Atreja (Director of Sinai AppLab and CTO and engagement officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center) discussed data access and ownership: who owns the data and what is the best way to share such information.

One could not have attended the event in New York City without being struck by how often terms such as “user experience”, “user-centric” or “patient empowerment” were used to describe health and wellness solutions. Such a vocabulary has rarely been associated with healthcare in the past, and its more recent use is one of many manifestations of a true shift in power from experts, namely healthcare providers, to patients, the ultimate consumers. The relationship is no longer vertical and authoritative, but rather one where the patient becomes an integral part of the process.

Today’s transformational solutions in healthcare, whether they rely on big data analytics, specific medicine or patient engagement platforms, all place the patient at the heart of the ideation and design process, a place patients fought hard to get to and will not easily relinquish. The progress we are witnessing in healthcare today is far from being just technological or scientific in nature; it goes far beyond that and actually reflects a deep change in the mindset of an industry that has finally accepted the patient at the heart of its work, and effectively paved the way for many amazing initiatives and solutions that will do nothing short of revolutionizing the way we live healthcare and well-being.

A special thank you to  Lyndsay Polloway for the invitation and to Dr. Michele Hindi-Alexander for the support.


Written by: Samar Ladhib, Pharmacist & Strategic Designer, Master in Strategic Design & Management



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