Last week I had the fortune of attending the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) in Barcelona, Spain. It was a wonderful meeting.
I was able to meet some of my new colleagues from Europe.
I was introduced and met a few customers that are doing incredible work in South America, Spain, the Netherlands, and in the U.K.
I read a majority of the scientific posters and was happy to see synergies carrying over from the imaging world into the field of radiation oncology.
There were a few big topics such as the use of novel tracers to identify cancer and then use for target delineation. Iterative reconstruction was a big buzz around the showroom floor as it applies daily imaging. MR and even spectral imaging were all being highlighted in how they can help in defining cancer as well as targeting it with radiation oncology.
My biggest excitement was when I discovered that one of the guests during ESTRO was going to be Lionel Reichardt, aka Pharmageek.
The question most people have is,
Magic, of course.
I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Lionel.
First and foremost, as with many IRL (in real life) meetings, it was as if we had just seen each other and were catching up with an old friend. Lionel is very observant, does his due diligence, and has an amazing perspective on technology, health, care, and the patient perspective.
I was energized to learn of an initiative that Lionel has been doing for a while now called, “As A Patient I Demand….” This initiative was taken from the candidacy of Francois Hollande and applied to getting the patients perspective in healthcare. Specifically, Lionel’s initiative translates to the following:
“The health seems forgotten by the speeches of the potential presidential candidates of 2017…with #MoiPatient (taking up Francois Hollande’s anaphor in 2012 “Moi President”), we give the floor to the patient that we are all at a certain moment in our lives.” (videos here)
What I enjoyed the most about my conversation with Lionel is that he cuts through the bullshit (as most of my French friends do). We took a walk around the showroom floor at ESTRO and we discussed some of the same “buzzwords” we also witnessed during RSNA 2017 (and several other medical conferences).
Words such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, clinical decision support, big data, analytics, and insights.
Companies from pharma, radiology, oncology, and other sectors of healthcare like to use these top of mind buzzwords, but we both agreed, that the majority of the technology and its applicability is still vapor, unfulfilled promises, and a prophecy of what is yet to come.
The reality is that health/care has undergone similar technological transformations multiple times, and unlike the rest of the world outside of healthcare, technology has only created a larger divide inside of medicine.
Lionel also pushed me on my own hypothesis, that health and care will be delivered at the N of 1.
He asked me how long I think it will take to reach this promised land?
I shared with Lionel that I believe we can reach that destination by 2025.
The hurdle is not the technology, it is people.
It is a fundamental culture shift.
While the insurance groups in the U.S. want population health, the hospitals want to develop pathways (rules) for patient management, and Governments want to provide access to quality care, it will ultimately be the patient who gets to determine what will work for them as individuals.
If we take a look and realize that there are no longer gatekeepers to medical knowledge, that brand hospital means less to a patient than the brand of a physician and when patients seek care, they want to trust the person.
Technology can enable, but trust is earned one patient and one physician at a time.