The IEEE EMBS Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies (HI-POCT) was held at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, Seattle, Washington from October 8 through October 10, 2014. The conference included plenary and keynote sessions, contributed papers and poster sessions, and breakout sessions and panel discussions focused on innovative technological solutions to global healthcare challenges in settings that range from home-based monitoring to critical care in hospitals. The conference featured a Best Paper Award session and IDEO Design-a-thon Innovation Workshop with enthusiastic participation by 40 students, residents and post-docs. The conference opened with a Special Topic NIBIB-NIH (National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering-National Institutes of Health) Workshop on Point-of-Care Technologies with noted speakers from NIBIB, Boston University, Arizona State University, University of Memphis, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 170 participants attended the conference from academia, industry and clinical healthcare.
The conference brought together the full spectrum of stakeholders who are involved in healthcare innovation and translational engineering, especially those who are focused on technological solutions that have a high potential to impact clinical practice. The conference attracted leading researchers, students and residents, practicing clinicians, and representatives from the medical device and software industries, businesses and insurance companies. They discussed the critical issues and challenges faced worldwide in providing quality healthcare at an affordable cost and the use of innovative technologies for preventive, personalized and precision medical care in settings that range from the home to critical care facilities.
The plenary session focused on the needs and challenges of quality healthcare for all with opening remarks from Conference Chair Atam Dhawan, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Vice Provost for Research, NJIT and presentations from Roderic Pettigrew, MD, PhD, Director, NIBIB, NIH; Paul Yager, PhD, Professor, Bioengineering, University of Washington; and Tobias Barker, MD, VP Medical Operations, MinuteClinic at CVS Caremark Corporation. Clinical challenges and perspectives in preventive medicine were addressed in the keynote presentations from Benjamin Crocker, MD, Associate Medical Director, Ambulatory Practice of the Future, Boston; Hank Wuh, MD, Surgeon and CEO, Skai Ventures, Hawaii; and John Collins, PhD, COO, CIMIT, Boston. In another keynote session on the first day of the conference, Nish Parikh, MS, Founder and CEO, WebTeam Corporation; Mary Tolikas, PhD, MBA, Operations Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; and Clifford Dacso, MD, MPH, MBA shared their views on challenges faced by start-up companies in bringing innovative healthcare technologies and solutions into the clinical environment as well as for point-of-care applications. The first day of the conference concluded with an interactive panel discussion session. Audience perspectives and questions were collected and forwarded to four breakout session chairs who discussed them in their respective breakout sessions on the third day of the conference. They then presented summaries of their discussions in an open forum that included interactive discussion with a panel of 10 experts representing academia, industry and medicine. The second day of the conference was devoted to parallel contributed paper sessions, poster session, and an industry demo session with three demonstrations: (1) a point-of-care smart-phone-based medical device for metabolism monitoring and characterization of pulmonary diseases by Erica Forzani, VP, Product Development, Breezing Corp.; (2) A mobile tablet based autism management system by Nish Parikh, MS, Founder and CEO, WebTeam Corp.; and (3) the Center of Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technologies by Penny Ford Carleton, Director of Clinical Innovation, CIMIT.
The conference stimulated a great deal of productive discussion toward developing a clear vision to promote healthcare innovation and greatly reduce the time-window of its translation from laboratory prototype to clinical application. It was also emphasized that there are certain global healthcare challenges that must be addressed to provide quality healthcare for all through major—or rather revolutionary changes—in industrial and political infrastructure support. The policies and processes associated with FDA regulations and insurance companies may need challenging reforms toward implementation of preventive, personalized and precision medicine at affordable costs in the near future. Though there were numerous challenges identified, from technology development to clinical deployment and acceptance by all stakeholders, the discussions concluded with a commitment to strong collaborative synergy for a brighter and healthier future.