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Outsiders Are In: The Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit Evolves

By Mandy Roth  
   October 20, 2019

The 2019 Summit reflects the changing healthcare landscape, as startups and outside players expand the realm of innovation beyond research, clinical care, and technology to challenge the status quo.

It's been 17 years since Cleveland Clinic hosted its first Medical Innovation Summit. As the 2019 version of conference officially launches Monday morning, its organizers say this year's gathering reflects the changing landscape of healthcare innovation—not only in terms of topics, such as sessions exploring AI, augmented reality, and virtual reality—but also in terms of who's standing at the dais and who's attending.

Through Wednesday, entrepreneurs from startup companies, investors, and payers will join the venerated researchers and practitioners who once were the primary focus of the Summit. Also present: key players from companies outside the traditional healthcare sector, including Amazon Web Services, CVS, Google, and Microsoft.

"While the technology is interesting, the bigger story is the die is not cast in terms of who will disrupt healthcare," says William Morris, MD, executive medical director, Cleveland Clinic Innovations. "Healthcare disruption will come from all angles. That's the power of this Innovation Summit."

For example, late Monday Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder and chairman of Groupon will present a keynote address. Four years ago, after Lefkofsky's wife was diagnosed with cancer, he founded Tempus to leverage data analytics, genomics, and artificial intelligence to provide precision medicine to patients. 

"Health issues touch all of us," says Morris, adding that today people and companies outside of traditional spheres of influence have been empowered to innovate and take action. "It's an interesting theme because it challenges the status quo."

On Tuesday, Morris says, Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the CEO of Microsoft, who is former chief research and strategy officer for the company, will discuss the role of technology in transforming the healthcare delivery industry.

"Again, it's very personal story, talking about the promises of new technologies and how they can actually benefit all patients," says Morris. "I think there's an interesting thread for an audience member to ask, 'Who are these people? How are they navigating this?' It's so diverse. A tremendous takeaway is that it is incumbent on us all to reimagine healthcare."

In the past the Summit focused on specific disease states and medical devices, says Susan Bernat,  general manager of strategic marketing, Cleveland Clinic Innovations.

"We realized that we were truly missing something as healthcare is evolving," Bernat says. Cleveland Clinic treats each of its patients as a whole person, not just a disease, she says. The conference needed to reflect that dynamic, which led to this year's theme, "Caring for Every Life Through Innovation." 

"Now it's a more well-rounded conversation," Bernat says.

Morris says that those involved in healthcare innovation bring optimism to the U.S. healthcare industry.

"There's an esprit de corps in our DNA that we will solve [the challenges]," he says. "I don't think there'll be one simple eureka moment. It's going to be a lot of work, a lot of collaboration. But the great news is, there is such passion to do better. The focus has moved beyond innovating for the sake of innovating and to challenge traditional status quo of how healthcare is being rendered."

Some highlights from Summit include:

  • Special Programing: The Summit will explore new verticals in medical innovation with topics including an investment forum, international insights, healthy startup management, community census, translational innovation, and women in health tech.
  • Digital Health Keynote: Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well, will provide insight on telehealth’s role in changing the accessibility of the healthcare industry and how partnership between tech and provider systems is instrumental for meaningful advancement of these platforms.
  • AI in Healthcare: Healthcare has adopted AI, but its implementation has lacked necessary checks and balances. During several AI-focused sessions, leaders from organizations such as Google Brain, Human Longevity, SAS, Cleveland Clinic, Pfizer, and other organizations will discuss AI and its rapidly expanding use now and over the next three to five  years.
  • Impact Sessions: Topics include Genetics in Predicting Heart Disease, The Healing Power of Neuromodulation, Treating the Mind to Heal the Body, Early Detection: A Snag in the System, AI in Cardiac Imaging, The Promise of “Biomarkers," Beneath the Epidemic: Treating Obesity, and Regulatory Approval in Cancer Treatment. Also: New Intervention Through Procedure and Device, A Different Avenue for Pain Management through Gamification, Combining Forces: Moving the Needle in Diabetes, Advancements in Radiation Therapy, Digital Health and Remote Monitoring in Cardiac Care, Our Moonshot: Disrupting Neurological Diseases through Innovation, Uncovering a Need: A Deep Dive into the Surgical Weight Loss Market, and AI in Oncology
  • Why We Innovate: Pediatric Success Stories: This session will present the stories of three young patients and the inventive care paths created for them. Patients and members of their care teams will serve on the panel.
  • Top 10 Medical Innovations: The Summit will close by releasing the annual list of the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2020.

The 2019 Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit takes place October 21‒23 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland in downtown Cleveland. The Summit is organized by Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the business development and commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic.

“It is incumbent on us all to reimagine healthcare. ”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

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