By Shiv Gaglani
For obvious reasons, many of the technologies and innovations in cardiology are meant for middle-aged to elderly patients. Years of natural, and self-inflicted, wear and tear make members of this group the most likely to need everything from bypasses to behavioral interventions, and thus they are often the focus of device manufacturers and mobile apps. An upcoming conference in October, however, aims to redirect attention to innovations and technologies for our youngest patients.
Organized by the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Pediatrics 2040 aims to explore how technology and innovation will transform the way we care for children over the next 25 years. Over the last quarter-century, medicine made significant strides in the treatment of pediatric conditions—such as cystic fibrosis—that prevented the patient from reaching adulthood. What improvements will we see over the next quarter-century?
The conference is focusing on seven themes: genomic medicine, pediatric nanomedicine, robotics and robotic surgery, medical devices and mobile technology, regenerative medicine and stem cells, innovations in health care delivery, and artificial intelligence and big data. This last theme is close to the heart of the conference director, Anthony C. Chang, MD, who also directs the CHOC Children's Heart Institute. This author first met Dr. Chang after he spoke at the Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit in January and then ran into him again at FutureMed in February. Dr. Chang's credentials expose his insatiable curiosity: MD, MBA, MPH, and an in-progress MS in Biomedical Informatics with a focus on artificial intelligence, which he is completing at Stanford. I had the opportunity to speak with him about the upcoming conference and how pediatric cardiology is changing as a result of technology.
How did you come up with the idea for Pediatrics 2040?
While there are a number of popular meetings focused on innovations and new technologies in medicine (e.g., FutureMed and TEDMED), I realized that there is no academic meeting to cover the new emerging technologies for children.
What are some of the highlights expected for the conference?
We have a number of excellent presentations lined up. FutureMed Director Daniel Kraft, MD, will start us off by providing an overview of the coming changes; renowned author Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, will discuss social media as a tool for health care delivery; Gabor Forgacs, PhD, will enlighten us on organ printing for regenerative medicine; and many other speakers will headline sessions on genomic medicine, stem cells, robotic surgery, and nanomedicine. Lastly, we have an entire half-day symposium dedicated to big data and artificial intelligence.
We met at both at Masimo's Patient Safety Science & Tech Summit in January as well as FutureMed—are there any recurring themes that will also be present at the Pediatrics 2040 meeting?
Certainly. We will be exploring how we can optimally take advantage of emerging technologies while assuring that we maintain compassion for our next generation. While generally helpful, technology can at times be distracting or isolating for the patient so it will be important to maintain humanism in the way we care for our patients.
Can you describe your background in medicine, technology, and innovation?
I have a background in molecular biology, pediatric cardiology, and intensive care, and have always been interested in the role of technology. I've made time recently to pursue a degree in biomedical informatics with a sub-specialization in artificial intelligence at Stanford. At CHOC, I host seminars to educate fellow clinicians about changes that we'll be seeing over the coming years, and Pediatrics 2040 is a large-scale version of that.
How do you foresee combining your interest in artificial intelligence with your background in pediatric cardiology?
I'm particularly interested in decision-making algorithms that take into account patient experiences, expert opinions, published studies, et cetera, to complement human cognition and turn us into the "smartest" cardiologists we can be. I'm also looking into devices for ambulatory monitoring and care, such as Scanadu's devices that turn patients into their own data collectors and reporters.
How do you see the field of cardiology and pediatric cardiology changing over the next 5 years? Over the next 25 years?
Basically almost all the pediatric subspecialties will embrace changes in the seven main themes [of the meeting]: genomic medicine, stem cells and regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, robotics and robotic surgery, medical apps and digital medicine, artificial intelligence and big data, and innovations in health care delivery. Specifically, we will see in cardiology a greater use of genomic and personalized medicine in the form of pharmacogenomics; stem cells used to regenerate cardiac parts and valves; early nanomedicine for valves and devices; telemedicine for ambulatory care; robotics in cardiac surgery; treatment and lifestyle management apps for cardiac patients; more intelligent use of data and algorithms for clinical care; and better coordination of home care for our cardiac patients with virtual visits. We encourage anyone interested in learning more to come to Pediatrics 2040. For more information, visit our website: peds2040.chocchildrens.org.
Shiv Gaglani is an MD/MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School. He writes about trends in medicine and technology and has had his work published in Medgadget, The Atlantic, and Emergency Physicians Monthly.