Cambridge HealthTech Institute (CHI) invited me to attend their Next Generation Point of Care Diagnostics Conference and I came away thoroughly impressed with the content, speakers, and organization. Since I chair several conferences a year I know how hard it is to pull off a good one so I’d like to thank CHI for a job well done.
Goals & Attendees
The goal of the event was to provide a progress update to the healthcare industry on the advances in next generation point-of-care (POC) diagnostics while highlighting the advent of innovative platforms and use of digital information systems to aid in the development of novel POC diagnostics. The conference was attended by industry experts from various disciplines ranging from academic institutions, non-profit computational and bioinformatics centers, venture capital, service providers, pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies.
Why does Point of Care Dx matter to Digital Health innovators?
The interactions and cross-fertilization of ideas among various disciplines in the diagnostic arena was the highlight of the conference. The ability to have real time interactions between academic researchers, clinicians, product developers and reimbursement specialists provided a ‘one stop’ venue for an attendee to obtain a holistic overview of both the promises and pitfalls in developing point-of-care diagnostics. The outcome of the conference should yield greater public-private collaborations involving novel platforms, available NGS datasets, and academic laboratories. Such partnerships will hopefully enable the industry to overcome product development and reimbursement barriers while paving the way for effective and streamlined approval process for next generation POC diagnostics. All of this will help integrate POC better into next generation Digital Health innovations.
The intimate setting and the organization of the parallel track discussions/presentations were well designed and covered key aspects of POC diagnostics. For one looking to learn the current and future directions of POC diagnostics, the conference provided a nice platform to learn, understand and meet key contacts to support their individual interests. Entrepreneurs and innovators focusing on bridging the “gap” between healthcare IT and diagnostics will find that there was a recurring theme that surfaced in many of the presentation but wasn’t really the focal point of any one specific presentation. That topic was data. There were many presentations that highlighted the “use of genomic data” or “the use of computational super tools to assimilate or generate vast amounts of data” or “ the need for better data standards to achieve meaningful results”. While these were great presentations, none of the speakers focused on the “HOW” piece (which is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs). For example, “”how can one can gain broader insights from these datasets?” or “how can we solve the issues of standardization of datasets?”. Perhaps, this was the homework assignment that we must complete in time for next year’s conference.
Top Ten Insights for Healthcare IT innovators:
- Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) will continue to play a vital role in disease detection and biomarker identification
- The increasing availability of publicly available datasets from the FDA and academia will help guide the development of next generation POC diagnostics
- Point of care diagnostics for hospital acquired infectious diseases remains an unmet need
- Need for improving sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic assay platforms is acute
- Reimbursement discussions need to occur with payers from day one
- Early stage diagnostic companies can benefit from innovative business models and strategic partnerships
- Clinical samples are required to validating an assay or biomarker – yet finding these longitudinal samples remains a challenge
- Software tools and POC diagnostics have improved the identification of diseases and better patient outcomes…..but we have a long way to go
- Establishing better workflows, processes and teams can lead to better outcomes
- Integrating disparate datasets can yield better insights and patient outcomes