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CMU presents healthcare conference

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Recent studies shockingly show that only about 54 percent of physician diagnoses are usually correct, according to Sameer Badlani, chief medical information officer for the University of Chicago department of medicine.

Those involved in the healthcare industry find this fact unacceptable and hope to use technology to revolutionize patient care.

However, William Bria — the chief medical information officer of the Shriners Hospital for Children — stated that this time of innovation is also a time of disruption. To tackle many of the challenges of incorporating technology into a scrambled healthcare system, Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College and Tepper School of Business hosted the 3rd Annual Innovation in Healthcare Technology Conference on Friday.

The conference was not just for health professionals — it brought together individuals from many different fields of study, including business and information technologies. The venue, the Omni William Penn Hotel in Downtown, provided a professional atmosphere for important discussions regarding the future of healthcare in our country.

Bria, the conference’s keynote speaker, emphasized that American healthcare was built on the intimate doctor-patient relationship. In the past few years, different health systems around the country have tried incorporating technology, which has led to a fragmented system that has lost some of the genuineness of the relationship that originally brought the United States to its place as the world’s leader in healthcare.

He pointed out symptoms of the challenge of incorporating technology in medicine. Through discussions among leaders in the industry, he hopes to promote innovative solutions to the multitude of problems in medicine, as well as to integrate advances in technology into the field while maintaining that the “heart of the doctor remains the soul of medicine.”

The conference highlighted Carnegie Mellon’s well-known interdisciplinary atmosphere by featuring a poster session that included students and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College, and the Mellon College of Science.

Joseph Samosky, director of the Simulation and Medical Technology R&D Center at the University of Pittsburgh, showed a live demonstration of the BodyExplorer, a simulation of medical procedures involving a mannequin with embedded sensors and a projector displaying human anatomy on the mannequin.

The project can be used to improve training by allowing medical students to practice performing procedures while providing immediate results of their mistakes through realistic alarms and patient responses.

Carnegie Mellon department of biological sciences research biologist Cheryl Telmer was in attendance to highlight the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team’s project, which embodies the interdisciplinary nature of projects on campus by bringing together undergraduate engineers, computer scientists, and biologists to work on a unique project. She shared her passion for the project, which addressed the problem of antibiotic resistance with phage therapy, saying that “every project is an invention” and that she found the conference to be the perfect place to showcase her students’ hard work.Throughout the day, multiple panels of experts in a variety of fields from the technological and pharmaceutical industries, as well as distinguished physicians, held interactive forums tackling some of the biggest challenges facing technology and healthcare.

Discussions involved the rise of social medicine by creating patient and doctor online communities where patients can become more empowered by sharing their experiences, and doctors can collaborate to correctly diagnose patients. The idea was that health and medicine could only improve through the collaboration of individuals, rather than through the efforts of individuals alone.
The recent National Security Agency (NSA) scandal has brought to light many issues involving the legality of collecting large amounts of data regarding patient care. What types of information should be allowed to be acquired? Who is responsible for the security of the data?

Modern technological advances like smart watches are pushing people toward an age where one can monitor a wide variety of bodily functions and natural patterns of stress and sleep. In some cases, patients can be monitored by sensors at all times while at home. If the data shows a medical issue while the patient is at home and no action is taken, who should be liable for the failure to act? Unfortunately, physicians are scared of implementing this revolutionary technology because they fear possible litigation from lawyers who attack those with larger pockets.

Badlani, who was a panelist at the conference, believes that the gold mine lies “in developing statistical and analytical techniques to detect signals in the data that action needs to be taken to ensure that people receive the appropriate care in a timely manner.”

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated 23andMe, a genetic testing company, preventing them from releasing genetic test results that could examine DNA and reveal information like a 5 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. All the physicians in the panel fully supported the FDA ruling and agreed that genetic testing will lead to revolutions in healthcare, but that it is too early to allow this testing without fully understanding how genes can be influenced by the environment.

To close, Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan shared his vision for calculating risk in healthcare by using statistics to improve patient care, as well as for making risk and cost comparisons. These panelists hope that these ideas and discussions will enable leaders in healthcare to incorporate technology that improves the system for the American people.

 


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