Energy from Every Roof? This Company Thinks So

Our partner, Standard Industries, which owns and operates the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing business through its operating companies GAF and BMI Group, hopes to both create a more sustainable world and transform itself in the process.

Harnessing the power of the sun has long been the dream of sustainability advocates, but capturing the energy economically has proven elusive. What, however, if everyone’s roof were transformed into a solar generator, producing electricity for the home and beyond?
While millions upon millions of roofs would seem to be an ideal platform, consumer takeup has been slowed by high-cost, suspect return on investment, and aesthetic concerns. But new technology and design, new economics, and the commitment of the world’s biggest roofing company are poised to change the equation.
“I do believe it will become standard practice for new and, over the next few decades, existing sunny roofs to have solar panels on them,” says Peter Fox-Penner, Director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and author of Smart Power. “Homebuilders will routinely include this as part of a new house, probably along with some battery storage and other ‘smart home’ devices.”
Standard Industries, which owns and operates the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing business through its operating companies GAF and BMI Group, is leading the charge. The company hopes to both create a more sustainable world and transform itself in the process.
“Ours is a unique approach to solar, it is the concept of generating energy from every roof,” says Martin DeBono, executive vice president of Standard Industries. “Every opportunity to install a roof is an opportunity to go solar.”
The standard approach has required solar panels to complete an unwieldy journey to your roof. Workers would have to screw in the panels with massive bolts, which often compromised the structural integrity of the roof. The damage done could negate immediate energy savings from solar. GAF is changing that with new technology that integrates solar panels seamlessly into roofing systems.
“The most efficient and effective time to install solar is when a roof is being put on. We are taking the unique approach that solar is part of the roofing ecosystem,” DeBono says. It’s an ecosystem where photovoltaic cells are as much a part of the roof as shingles. “We guarantee the roof, waterproofing, and the solar panel. Solar as part of a new roof becomes a source of energy by design.”
The program is catching on, especially in states that are experiencing a convergence of higher legacy energy costs and a favorable regulatory environment. Standard accounts for nearly one in three roofs in North America, giving it the critical mass to make an immediate impact on the industry.
“We want to forge the path to a more modern, conscious industrialism—one that considers everything from supply chains to sustainability, to renewable energy,” says Standard Industries co-CEO David Winter. “Our commitment to solar and generating energy from every roof epitomizes that mission.”
Surplus power
The US Energy Information Administration provides a state by state analysis of electrical costs. Using Florida as an example, the average monthly cost of electricity is $126.44, one of the most expensive states. A solar roof on a typical, suburban residential home costs around $16,000. With the installation of a solar roof, the electricity bill disappears. A typical utility bill over seven years (the average length of time someone is in their home) totals $10,620.96, more than the cost of the solar part of the roof. Everything beyond that is savings.
The vast majority of homes generate more electricity from their solar panels than the home needs, which can power other properties, says Boston University professor Robert Kaufmann.  Kaufmann, director of the school’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, is also a case study.
“My photovoltaic (PV) produces more electricity than I currently use. To ‘use’ this cheap power, I recently purchased a Chevy Bolt, (an electric car, 230-mile range), and am considering heat pump and air-conditioning units,” Kauffmann says. Driving an electric car and reducing his contributions of carbon dioxide emissions are added benefits to the savings his roof provides.
DeBono thinks many people will follow Kaufmann’s example by using their surplus electricity to power cars leading to “a great electrification of transportation.”
But to date, the rollout of solar has been uneven, depending heavily on local laws.
“A lot has to do with incentives,” Kaufmann says. “Here in Massachusetts, we have a thriving PV sector because the state offers solar renewable energy credits. These credits have spawned creative ways of getting PV into the market,” he says. For instance, Kaufmann has a solar roof that that did not cost him anything. Instead, San Francisco-based Sunrun installed it and sells him the power that they generate, a purchase agreement that runs for 20 years. But only a handful of states are creating such an environment for solar; others have been slow to come aboard.
The power company monopolies are entrenched and based on an outdated system that DeBono says needs to be reexamined.
“We have to examine the social contract between utility and community. What we need to examine is the best way to deliver reliable electricity to constituents,” DeBono says.
Standard Industries’ focus right now is on nine states where a favorable regulatory environment and higher utility costs have combined to make rooftop solar more economical for consumers.  Those states are California, Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey.
“The cost of the components has reached the point where in those nine states it is a no-brainer, and as costs go down, it’ll be 25 states and then 50,” DeBono says. That might be slight hyperbole, Alaska might not ever be a great solar market, but in the other 49, it’s only a matter of time and favorable policy.
An industry in transition
And in spreading solar from the rooftops, Standard Industries aims to transform the roofing industry’s approach to solar, which has long been based on quick installation and slapping on panels to an existing roof.
“The roofers are now going to have more robust businesses because they will be adding another product line. They can train their employees to sell and install solar, and roofing companies can now rely on a multi-billion company to add value,” DeBono says.
As for the power companies guarding their turf against rooftop solar, Fox-Penner says they have little to fear. There’s enough business to go around.
“Even with extensive solar panels on rooftops, nearly all cities will continue to rely on outside power supplies, so the power system and large utilities will still be needed,” he says. “To cite one example, the city of Boston uses about 6 billion kWh a year. Our research shows that using every sunny rooftop in the city would produce about 1.3 billion kWh a year.”
What solar roofing will do, however, is free up utility companies from firing up expensive backup plants during peak times and building expensive new ones. Instead, they can purchase energy from the surplus produced by homes and have a grid that is less strained and more reliable.
But at the end of the day, this is about forging a new path, both for society and the company.
“We are keenly focused on the opportunity to deliver both an industrial and social impact in everything we do,” says David Millstone, Standard Industries co-CEO.
In this case, it is the combination of massive scale and innovative technology that can create immediate societal impact.
“Technology has always been the answer when politicians say they can’t do it,” DeBono says. “It has always been up to technology. Technology will always be the answer; policy helps, but technology goes a long way to bridge the divide.”
Standard Industries’ co-CEOs, David Millstone and David Winter, will discuss the new industrialism today at 3:40 p.m. PT at Techonomy 2018. See it live from our homepage.
 

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Companies Aim to Ease Workers into Automation

Workplace automation is poised to virtually eliminate rote office work. Our partner, UIPath, is among a small number of companies helping their customers use the technology both to improve productivity and create new opportunities for their employees. It’s good for their customers, good for employees, and good for them as it paves the road for increased adoption of their tools.

Last summer, more than 50,000 union workers in Las Vegas casinos threatened to strike. Last fall, hotel employees at Marriott International voted to strike at dozens of U.S. locations. The same issue was at the heart of both disputes: The workers were afraid of being displaced by automation.
As artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technologies enable more machines to do what humans do, such events may be harbingers of what’s to come. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018, half of all companies surveyed expect automation to reduce their full-time workforce by 2022, based on current job profiles. The other side of the coin, however, is a net gain of about 60 million jobs based on new job descriptions needed for a more automated workplace.
But to reap those new jobs will require training. And, the report suggests that retraining will be key to avoiding talent shortages, mass unemployment, and inequality: “It is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning and that governments create an enabling environment, rapidly and creatively, to assist in these efforts,” says the WEF.
The U.S. government has so far been MIA. The U.S. Department of Labor’s strategic four-year plan, issued last year, didn’t even mention artificial intelligence, says Michael Lotito, co-chair of the Workplace Policy Institute at the employment law firm Littler Mendelson P.C. “The words didn’t even appear in the document,” he said. “We’re totally unprepared.” This realization led Lotito to co-found the Emma Coalition, a partnership of businesses, organized labor, non-profit and academic groups to prepare the workforce for what it terms “technology-induced displacement of employees.”
A small number of automation companies, however, are stepping forward to address the problem, helping their customers use the technology both to improve productivity and create new opportunities for their employees. It’s good for their customers, good for employees, and good for the vendors, who pave the road for increased adoption of their tools.
Software Robots
Although people tend to picture automation as a hardware robot in a factory, much of automation occurs through software. In fact, one of the fastest growing sectors of the AI market is robotic process automation (RPA). RPA is software that uses AI to work with other software programs and handle rote tasks like invoicing and customer service support.
A typical RPA application is invoice processing. The software can open mail, download PDFs, copy vendor and cost information, open an accounting system and create payments from that data, freeing accountants from those rote tasks.
Forrester Research recently revised its growth forecast for the RPA market upward, predicting it will reach $3.3 billion by 2021. Among the fastest growing RPA vendors is UiPath, founded in 2015 by two Romanian entrepreneurs. The company’s customer base shot up in 2017 from less than 100 to more than 1800 companies, which increased its annual recurring revenue by eight times, according to the company. It is Romania’s first unicorn. After three rounds of funding totaling more than $400 million, the company says it has a $3 billion valuation.
Analysts think RPA is the tip of the spear of AI technology that could quickly remake the workforce. For its part, UiPath is pioneering an approach to help smooth out what could be a rocky transition. It says it wants to democratize RPA by making its software available for free, providing free online training through the UiPath Academy it started last year, and by teaming up with schools, governments, and nonprofits to educate the workforce and prepare it for the transition.
“We are enabling a future where employees at every organization are empowered to automate tedious and time-consuming work, enabling them to focus on creative, challenging problems,” said Daniel Dines, co-founder and CEO of UiPath. “UiPath is driven by the incredible potential for our platform to be the gateway to transform our customers’ digital business operations with machine learning and AI.”
DIY Training

UiPath’s Youth in Automation program. (Photo courtesy of UIPath)

Ana Cinca was one of the company’s first employees and now serves as vice president of enabling technologies. UiPath’s philosophy is very much based on the experience of young techies in Romania. The founders — indeed most Romanian software developers — did not learn to code by going to school. “They learned to code from the internet,” she said. “They appreciate the fact that there is so much information that’s free, open-sourced, high quality information.”
They wanted to provide RPA education in the same vein, which led the company to create the academy and the training partnerships. It helps that the millennial generation prefers unstructured independent learning, like that offered through massive open online courses (MOOCs). “We thought education should be free, meaningful, and open to all those who are curious,” Cinca said.
While automation will displace some workers, UiPath and other automation vendors like to stress that it will also enable workers to forgo boring tasks and do more interesting, creative and high-value work. What’s more, automation will create entirely new types of jobs. Thirty-eight percent of the companies expected to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than 25 percent expected automation to create new roles within their companies, according to the WEF report.
Automation Everywhere
Today’s tight labor market may actually be an ideal environment for companies to roll out automation. The trucking industry, for instance, is experiencing a serious shortage of drivers. The American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of more than 50,000 drivers today and predicts that will reach 150,000 by 2026.
“In many respects, autonomous trucking represents a canary-in-the-coal-mine for jobs in other industries, posing a good opportunity for business leaders, technology strategists and public policy proponents to assess how to successfully manage the transition,” says a Cognizant report, “No Hands: The Autonomous Future of Trucking.”  A company called Peloton, for example, uses automation technology to enable truckers to “platoon,” essentially travel one truck after another, synced through technology, to save fuel and increase safety.
Today, human drivers are still doing the driving. Eventually, however, long-haul truckers could be displaced as trucking becomes totally autonomous. Yet, those truckers might take on more short-haul work, because autonomous vehicles aren’t good at navigating cities. Meanwhile, there will be new and different jobs.
“Shippers must find new ways to protect unmanned cargo from theft, for example, and trucks will still need to refuel on trips across the country,” says the Cognizant report. “Without drivers present, support workers in the field become paramount to ensure the vehicle remains in working order with maintenance checkups. Changing tires on the road is another routine task that drivers do but is impossible for autonomous trucks. All of these job tasks present opportunities for innovation within the industry and job roles to help maintain the truck fleet of the future.”
In industries like healthcare, automation may free professionals from drudgery that earlier automation imposed on them. Paperwork remains one of the top burnout factors for doctors and nurses, says Robert H. Brown, associate vice president of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work. Electronic medical records have not eased the burden.
“They’ve just swapped tablet computers for paper, but the work is still exactly the same,” he says. “They have to be entering information into the tablet while visiting with the patient.”
A Silicon Valley startup called Augmedix is addressing that problem through automation. It uses Google Glass and augmented reality to give physicians a hands-free way of pulling up patient data and recording medical notes, using natural language processing, so the healthcare professional can focus exclusively on the person.
The key to winning workers over, says Brown, is change management, the kind that shows that automation is creating a better future. If you can do that, “you can take the biggest skeptics and turn them into the biggest advocates for the technology.”
And that future will not be just a new job. “It’s not necessarily going to be training for [a particular] job because the jobs are going to continuously change,” says Lotito. “In the industrial revolution, we taught someone how to be a tool and die maker and that worked well for 30 years” until tool and die work was automated, he says. “With AI, you can’t do that because the job will continually change.”
UiPath is facing the fears of displacement directly. “We admit that this will impact the way they work,” says Cinca, “but we also show them how it can open up new horizons.”

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Today’s Leaders Need a Sense of Personal Purpose

Speaking the night before the kickoff of Techonomy NYC this week, J&J’s Lowinn Kibbey reflected on how a personal sense of purpose can help leaders navigate the increasingly complex and demanding business environment.

To navigate a dizzying array of challenges, today’s leaders need a sense of personal purpose that can transcend even company purpose.
“You can’t be emotionally and physically agile and intelligent without a sense of personal purpose,” said Lowinn Kibbey, global head of Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute, “You have to ask, ‘Does the work have significant enough meaning in your life?’”
Speaking at a dinner of about 50 of the speakers and panelists who will be appearing at Techonomy NYC this week, Kibbey reflected on how a personal sense of purpose can help leaders navigate the increasingly complex and demanding business environment.
Too often, he said, leaders mistake their company’s purpose for their personal purpose, confusion that can drive poor choices.
“There’s a rolling crisis, a failure to take responsibility,” he said. “An organization can have a powerful purpose, but you need to be clear about what brings meaning to your own life.”
Kibbey cautioned that as organizations change, leaders must consider whether that change is still in line with their values – and think hard about the implications of their tactical decisions, which may be on strategy but veer away from their values.
“Who are you becoming as you chase,” he said. “The world is changing fast, and you have to help drive that change, but you have to focus on the ‘how’.  Your personal purpose is an energy system that can create a legacy.”
Today’s demands on business leaders are a long way from when senior executives’ jobs were to create stability and predictable earnings. Now, successful business cultures are those that are leading change, which creates a paradox: if you’re focused on change management, you’re already behind.
“You have to ask, ‘how do you create the wave, not surf it’,” Kibbey said. “You’ll win if you’re the disruptor, not by being good at change management. You need to be able to see around not the first or second, but the third, corner. And you need to be clear on your sense of purpose since things are changing so quickly.”
Kibbey’s perspective opened up a wide-ranging discussion about leadership among his fellow Techonomy NYC speakers, a group that included corporate executives, startup founders, policy makers, and venture capitalists.
There is a disconnect between purpose at work and purpose at home, one participant said, leading to a confusion of values.
“We have lost the borders between work and home,” he said. “Leaders today are more adrift.”
The CEO of a large tech company said the acceleration in the pace of change has forced him to rethink the relationship between his vision for the company and its organizational design.
“You need to be more adaptive,” he said.
Others pointed to corporate culture as a critical influence, both for good and for bad.
The solution?  Kibbey called for “character-driven leadership,” a mix of tough mindedness and compassion.  Character, he said, can be built.
“What we do know in working with athletes and corporate executives is you can actually build your character muscle,” he said. “You can build it over time. You can build a sense of purpose and meaningful relationships in your life.”
 

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Healthcare’s Next Wave: Follow the Data

There was a wide array of devices and services on display at this week’s HIMSS conference in Las Vegas but data was the unifying theme — how to collect it, where to store it, how to share it, how to protect it, and how to make it actionable. The vision is expansive; the reality is fraught with challenges.

Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick and Chief Medical Officer of Philips Jan Kimpen during their interview onstage at HIMSS 2018. (Photo: Jeff Pundyk)

The digital transformation of healthcare is going to depend on data portability and all the issues that surround it — technical, logistical, and ethical.
This week’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference brought more than 40,000 health information technology professionals to Las Vegas along with 1,355 exhibiting companies. While there was a wide array of devices and services on display, data was the unifying theme — how to collect it, where to store it, how to share it, how to protect it, and how to make it actionable.
The industry frames its ongoing transformation as moving from sick care to well care, from hospital care to remote care, and from periodic care to ongoing care; but the driver of all this hoped-for change will be data. Connected devices are creating untold amounts of data in the hospital, at the family doctor’s, and in the home — making hospitals, device makers, and physicians something akin to systems integrators that must access, interpret, and share data.
The industry’s rapid technological advancements raise a host of issues around patient rights, and the patient’s relationship with caregivers will be transformed, said Frans van Houten, CEO of healthcare product and services company Philips.
“People need to be more accountable for their own health, and data is the feedback,” van Houten said in an interview on the eve of the conference. “When you leave the hospital, you should take your data with you.”
The vision raises technical issues regarding security and interoperability as well as cultural concerns, particularly around who controls how the data is used, and by whom.
“We don’t need to own the data in order to learn from the data,” van Houten said.
Still, there are conflicting forces at hand. For example, keeping data secure, seemingly a virtue in itself, could in some ways actually impede keeping patients healthy.
Ed de Myttenaere, CIO of Northwest Clinics in the Netherlands, cited the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a case in point. The regulation will harmonize existing data protection laws in the European Union and strengthen the rights of people in the EU to control their personal data. Companies that do not comply risk severe fines. But the rules, he said, will hinder the development of telemedicine in Europe and drive fragmentation by making it more complex for hospitals, pharmacies, and primary care physicians to share data.
In the United States, hospital CIOs are still thinking through what the shift to data-driven healthcare means. David Higginson, CIO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, called data “the third age of the hospital CIO.”
“We spend a lot of time capturing data,” he said. “We believe that a continuous data stream will give us a lot more insight into what’s going on.” Still, he said, there are a lot of unknowns. “I’m nervous and a little skeptical.”
Higginson and many of his peers are turning to outside companies to manage the data rather than building up their own teams of analysts.
For its part, Philips manages 170 petabytes of data, van Houten said. Once a diversified electronics company, it is now fully focused on healthcare. Even more specifically, he says “we are a data company.”.
On the show floor at HIMSS. (Photo: Jeff Pundyk)

That thought was echoed by Dr. Purna Prasad, Chief Technology Officer of Northwell Health, a completely different kind of organization. It’s a not-for-profit healthcare network of 22 hospitals. “We are a tech company offering health services,” he said.  Dr. Prasad explains that the ongoing monitoring of patients combined with predictive analytics will allow hospitals to “catch a patient before the patient becomes a real patient.” This idea that future medicine will keep people healthy rather than treat them once they become sick was something like a holy grail at HIMSS.
Jeroen Tas, who pioneered online banking at Citibank and is now Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Philips, goes even farther: “The hospital should become the place for specialized or acute care,” he said.  “It should just be one hub on the network.”
While the concept is expansive, the reality is that healthcare technology is still fragmented, doctors are slow to embrace it, security issues continue to create significant risk, and financial incentives work against interoperability. In an interview with Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick, Philips Chief Medical Officer Jan Kimpen cited examples where remote medicine was increasing access to healthcare for the underserved, but he acknowledged that there was still a long way to go.
“We are collecting so much data that we cannot use yet,” Kimpen said. (View a video of the full interview here.)
That said, even the skeptical are betting that data-driven health will be transformative. “We have massive amounts of imaging data,” Higginson said. “We don’t know what we are going to do with it yet, but we know it will help children.”
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Editor’s note: Our coverage of HIMSS is sponsored by Philips

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Talk in the hallways of the CES Digital Health Summit focused on the gap between technological advancements and the adoption of these breakthroughs by both patients and providers. Our continuing coverage of CES is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

Conversation throughout the Digital Health Summit, which took place alongside CES in Las Vegas early this month, was less about technology and more about behavior — the behavior of patients, of providers, and of institutions.
The summit stage featured speakers enthusiastically touting an array of technological advancements. They included alternatives to pharmaceuticals for pain relief, as well as games and wearables that use biofeedback to help patients with diseases such as autism, Alzheimer’s, depression and stroke recovery. There was also great enthusiasm for big data as a driver of patient management, among many other promising breakthroughs.
But talk in the hallways was more reserved. Conversations at a leadership dinner attended by more than a dozen healthcare innovators that was hosted by Johnson & Johnson and moderated by Techonomy Media CEO David Kirkpatrick, for instance, focused on the gap between technological advancements and the adoption of these breakthroughs by both patients and providers.
While early adopters are proving the promise of many digital tactics, large-scale behavior change among both consumers and healthcare institutions is going to take time, they say.
“At the end of the day,” one startup founder said, “It’s about how you deal with people. How do we influence behavior — consumer behavior and physician behavior?”
That question resonated throughout the halls of CES, with many startups saying it is their biggest challenge. Behavior change, they say, is their way to join the system. “We have physician behavior and patient expectations,” Dr. Shai Gozani, CEO of Quell, an over-the-counter wearable for pain relief, said during one summit panel. “How can technology get in the middle of this?”
“Behavior change happens when motivation, capability and opportunity converge at the same moment,” said Len Greer, President of Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions. “There’s no doubt that technology has the potential to significantly improve provider-patient interactions as well as consumers’ health behaviors. We know that adoption of new healthy behaviors — or extinguishing existing unhealthy behaviors —  requires a sustained amount of physical, emotional, and mental energy to maintain focus, discipline, and desire to change.”
At its broadest, the question becomes one of interoperability within existing systems and between the startup community and the big healthcare institutions.
“The traditional healthcare system is slow to change and not open to integration,” said the CEO of a company that measures and creates personalized programs to sharpen memory for Alzheimer’s patients.
Digital transformation, however, is not the biggest disruptor.  That, rather, is the industrywide shift away from treating disease and instead toward keeping people healthy.
The movement from taking care of sick people to keeping them well has opened the door for digital transformation by putting consumers at the center of the industry.  Empowered consumers demand the insight and tools to manage their own cases.  But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts at the broader CES who can gleefully seek to “disrupt,” the challenge for healthcare entrepreneurs is to integrate within the existing healthcare industry. They seek to encourage adoption of alternative approaches, not to unseat the existing system, which is well embedded, highly regulated, and deeply specialized.
Those shuffling between the CES Digital Health Summit and the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, which took place the same week, may have experienced something akin to vertigo. The J.P. Morgan conference focuses on the investment opportunities of the industry and more than 20 of the country’s largest healthcare systems presented their strategy there. With hospital profits and cash reserves at historic highs, many are focused on attaining scale. Case in point: among the presenters were executives representing two recent mega-mergers — Illinois-based Advocate and Wisconsin-based Aurora, which will be a $10 billion organization with 70,000 employees; and California-based Dignity Health and Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives, which combined will have $28 billion in revenues and 160,000 employees.
Against such a backdrop, many digital health startups are scaling back their ambitions to focus on very specific problems rather than taking on larger, systematic issues.
Still, talk from the healthcare startups and the big institutions was not all that different, with both putting moving away from technology for technology’s sake and placing increased emphasis on delivering real value.
“Anything can be technologized,” one startup founder said. “But what is the problem we are solving?”


Editor’s note: Our coverage of CES is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

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While the Digital Health Summit at CES painted a promising picture for digital medicine, it also highlighted the cultural, structural and behavioral barriers to achieving the vision. Our coverage is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

The Digital Health Summit stands as an oasis of substance among the hype of the CES show floor in Las Vegas. This year, the Summit’s speakers and panels largely focused on how technology can augment the mind-body connection, driving a range of advancements from consumer-oriented wearables that can enhance sports performance to breakthroughs in treating neurological disorders to offering alternatives to pharmaceuticals for pain reduction.
While the two-day Summit painted a promising picture, it also highlighted the cultural, structural, and behavioral barriers to achieving a vision for digital healthcare, an industry still dependent on the fax machine.
“We’re still in the very early days in the industry,” said Marc Leibowitz, Global Head of Health Technology at Johnson & Johnson. “We are trying to move away from products to a whole health approach to help consumers manage their health. How you keep people from being sick in the first place is a disruptive idea to an industry focused on treating sick people.”
A panel Wednesday on the opioid crisis made the case for a different approach and highlighted the complexity of getting there. Roughly a quarter of people who are prescribed opioid pain relievers will abuse them. As a result, there were 52,000 opioid-related deaths last year alone; half of adults in the United States are one degree of separation from somebody affected by the crises. Technology offers alternatives to drugs for pain through new protocols, including therapeutic virtual reality being tested in Cedars-Sinai health system, in Los Angeles.
“When it works,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research there, “It absolutely works.”
The issue, however, is to change the behavior of millions of prescribers, said Dr. Richard Migliori, Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealth Group.  “Opioids are very effective in pain relief,” he said. “Doctors are driven by compassion but technology is now imperative.”
The question of how technology can sit in the middle of the doctor patient relationship was a persistent theme throughout the two-day summit.
Sandra Peterson, Group Worldwide Chair of Johnson & Johnson, said that it is a mistake to disrupt the system by cutting out health care professionals.  “We keep them in the mix,” she said. “That’s the great advantage of who we are. We understand consumers and patients. We understand what happens at the hospital and with doctors. And we understand the science.”

Sandra Peterson, of Johnson & Johnson, interviewed by David Kirkpatrick at CES. (Photo by Techonomy Media)

Peterson, who was interviewed Thursday by Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick, said technology alone is not the answer: “The problem with tech in and of itself is you don’t understand enough about the person and all the things connected to that person,” she said. “We need to understand what’s an intrinsic motivator of a person. It’s your mental and emotional as well as physical state that has an impact on your health.”
Speaking separately, Chris Van Hoof, director of wearable health solutions at R&D facility imec, made a similar point: “We are the problem,” he said. “We are all unique.  We need unique, personalized apps that give the right feedback in the right tone at the right time.”
In the U.S., he said, 50 percent of the population suffers from a chronic disease — many of which can be moderated with behavior change. Van Hoof shared studies that show hyper-personalized apps effectively helping to modulate stress, for example, and said the same could be applied to eating disorders and helping people to stop smoking.
“An app a day, can keep the doctor away,” he said.
Like its counterparts in the broader CES, digital medicine is deploying a range of technologies, including voice, connected devices, and big data and AI. Speakers showed impressive results across a wide range of applications, including digital games that can help Alzheimer’s patients, wearables that help autistic children read facial expressions to better understand emotions, smart gloves that use bio-feedback to help stroke victims with their recovery, and, yes, blockchain was in the mix, although with large dollops of expectation management.
“It’s not about gadgets,” J&J’s Peterson said. “The massive breakthroughs in the last 10 years about the science of disease requires the computational power, machine learning, visual processing, and other leading technology. Our R&D efforts bring together science and tech.”
Johnson & Johnson, more than 130 years old and still one of the world’s biggest companies, has global reach across the entire healthcare system, from consumer-facing products to the inner workings of hospitals to pharmaceuticals. That breadth provides the company with insights that inform each of its divisions, Peterson said.
As with consumer apps, digital medicine is driven by empowered consumers. Anand Iyer, Chief Strategy Officer of WellDoc, spoke passionately in Wednesday’s keynote about how machine intelligence and big data can help patients manage diabetes.
“It’s not to replace physicians,” he said.  “It’s a value multiplier.  Let the patient and the provider stand on technology’s shoulders.  What’s the magic ingredient?  The engaged patient.”
And while most panelists spoke with conviction about empowering the health care consumer, many also acknowledged that the industry is difficult to navigate, at best.
Our stuff is getting smarter. (Photo by Techonomy Media)

Down on the CES show floors, many of the same technologies discussed at the health summit were on display largely in service of making our homes, cars, clothes, offices, patio furniture, bicycles, mirrors, beds, pillows, and everything else smarter — although if Wednesday’s brief blackout in the CES hall is any indicator, maybe not just yet. (Friend of Techonomy Ina Fried is keeping a rundown of the biggest CES announcements on Axios.)
Upstairs at the Health Summit, the perspective was more earnest.
“We take a very long-term view,” J&J’s Peterson said. “It enables us to think about how we can truly change the trajectory of human health.”
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————Editor’s note: Our coverage of CES is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.
 

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A special summit at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas puts the spotlight on Digital Health. It includes sessions on digital therapeutics, games to treat mental health, advances in genetic tests, and neuroscience, among other trends.

Digital health is a sprawling field that includes everything from mobile health apps and wearable devices like fitness trackers to electronic medical records and big data analytics. It has lately been a darling of the investment community. According to StartUp Health, a New York-based incubator that Techonomy profiled last year, more than 500 digital health companies attracted almost $8 billion from investors in 2016, with five mega-deals accounting for nearly a quarter of that total. This year, momentum continued. Rock Health, another incubator, reported that 188 digital health companies had raked in $3.5 billion in the first half of 2017.
That level of interest has dramatically changed the face of the CES Digital Health Summit, now in its ninth year. Jill Gilbert, the event’s longtime producer, says the early days of the meeting heavily focused just on getting attendees up to speed. “We were trying to introduce the concept that is digital health,” she says, noting that at the time “wearable” wasn’t yet a commonly used term. Her other challenge in those early years was breaking through expectations about CES itself. “It was known as the place where you launch your TV,” she says, not a place for discussions about wellness. Even then, though, Gilbert knew she was onto something early on, when nearly 1,500 people showed up to a room that could hold only 200.
Now, sessions and speakers on January 10 and 11 take a deep dive into the details of digital health, and attendees are eager for the nitty-gritty. This year, for example, increased interest in various aspects of mental health led to plans for a half-day focus on the brain Wednesday morning. Topics include brain optimization, advances in treating neurodegenerative diseases, and addressing the opioid crisis.
Adam Gazzaley, founder and director of of Neuroscape, at UC San Francisco, will be the keynote speaker at 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday.  He will share his work on custom-designed video games meant to enhance cognitive abilities. So-called brain training games have been controversial, dividing scientists on their efficacy. Experts have called some consumer brain-training products into question. Gazzaley himself is developing a game that could help treat children with ADHD—as a prescription-based video game. The game, currently in clinical trials, will go through all of the trials and processes that are required by the FDA for any kind of drug or medical device. Other companies, too, are developing mental-health focused games that they aim to get approved by the FDA.
As the meeting shifted over time from being merely an educational forum to becoming more business-centric, Gilbert has focused more on the business of health. This year, programming includes health data privacy, the potential of blockchains in healthcare, and how government could play a larger role for adoption and regulation of digital health.

Sandra Peterson, Group Worldwide Chair, Johnson & Johnson, will speak with Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick at CES. (Photo credit: Johnson & Johnson)

Fireside chats will offer candid conversations with high-level speakers. “We really want to bring transformative companies to inspire people,” Gilbert says. This year, speakers will include Marco Peluso, founder of Qardio, which has developed an AI-based doctor-patient platform and medical-grade digital health products including a wireless, wearable electrocardiogram, and Sandra Peterson, Group Worldwide Chair of Johnson & Johnson, who will be interviewed by Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick on Thursday.
“Building on our 130 years of healthcare innovation, we are harnessing technology to leverage our expertise in behavioral science and design thinking,” Peterson says. “We’re embedding technology in everything we do—it’s not just an app, it’s not a ‘widget,’ it’s not any one product. We’re committed to delivering people-centered solutions on a global scale that focus not only caring for the sick, but keeping people well.”
Johnson & Johnson is making a broad push into digital tools to aid healthcare, both in the U.S. and globally. Its efforts include digital products to prepare patients for surgery, standardization and digitalization of surgical workflows in the operating theatre, and consumer apps.
“As our understanding of how to make technology work for healthcare deepens, our opportunity—and our industry’s imperative—to develop forward-thinking solutions that help people take better care of themselves to stay healthy and also help them when they do get sick continues to grow,” Peterson adds.
One key area attendees will learn about is how hospitals are changing how they monitor patients, so people can stay at home but still get regular attention. “That sounds basic, but it’s pretty transformative,” Gilbert explains. Finally, the rapid adoption of DNA tests and other personal health tools will be the focus of sessions about consumers taking control of their own health management. Says Gilbert: “Astounding developments are happening.”
The full Digital Health Summit agenda is available here.
Editor’s Note: Our coverage of the CES Digital Health Summit is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, which will be participating in two discussions there:
“How Three Fierce Companies are Giving Power to the People”
Marc Leibowitz, Global Head of Health Technology, Johnson & Johnson
Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 1:00-1:30 PM PT, Venetian, Level 4, Lando 4304
“Johnson & Johnson: How a 130 Year Old Company is Transforming Health and Wellbeing”
Sandra Peterson, Group Worldwide Chair, Johnson & Johnson
Thursday, January 11, 2018, 10:55-11:15 AM, Venetian, Level 4, Lando 4304

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