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Aha Moments @ the AHA Summit

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

I recently returned from the Advanced Healthcare Analytics Summit (AHA) in Boston, Mass where I had the privilege to present the GeoHealth Dashboard and our current work towards addressing the Opioid Epidemic. The 2-day event was evenly split between speakers discussing the benefits data analytic approaches can bring to medicine and those, like ourselves, who are deploying such capabilities today.

There were many “lessons-learned” discussed at the conference and interesting points raised. From my perspective, there were three (3) main take-aways:

Aha #1. Adjust Clinical Trials for the Modern World

Given the heterogeneous nature of the US population and the fact that it is only becoming more diverse, current approach of having a controlled cohort that is well aligned on certain characteristics may not be in our best interest. Having cohorts in clinical trials that mirror the demographic makeup of the target population may be a better option – especially from the perspective of the physicians who will need to use the results of those trials to best treat their patients.

We take this one step farther by suggesting that patient recruitment for clinical trials should be conducted on a nation-wide basis to capture geographic and environmental difference in patient populations – all of which can impact patient response to drugs.

Aha #2. Researchers Must Keep Interventions in Mind

This is actually a point we’ve been founded on.

Providers are not looking for machine learning or artificial intelligence capabilities for the sake of having those capabilities – they are looking for solutions that improve outcomes. Solutions that help providers at the point-of-care must be the focus of any data analytic healthcare solution or offering.

The issue here is really just that a technologist can at times get so focused on building new tech that they can lose sight of the larger environment in which that tech will have to work. This is just human nature. We’ve been able to avoid this pitfall by having a CMO who keeps that big picture in mind.

Aha #1. Social Media as the next Medical Test

Much has been made lately on social media’s possible (and negative) impact on mental health and depression. (Here’s just one article.) An obvious next step will be an AI program that will analyze an individual’s social media activity (what’s been posted and what’s been viewed) for the past 6 months, a year, or even longer, to make a recommendation on the state of that individual’s mental health. Retailers do something similar in detecting and influencing buying habits. This should make us all more careful about what we post.

Our Next Move

Maintaining the currency of the database supporting the GeoHealth Dashboard is an ongoing effort. We also continue to talk publically about our approach to geospatial data analytics for population health and specifically to address the opioid epidemic. Our next talk is at Artificial Intelligence Innovations Summit in San Francisco, CA where I will both speak and Chair the event.

And, of course, we seek every opportunity to put our solution into practice.

Our immediate next event is the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards (ICOY) dinner at the American Visionary Art Musuem in Baltimore this Thursday, June 15th. We are a finalist for the ICOY Awards – wich us luck!

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