I’ve seen the future of healthcare—in a keynote presentation that made it come to life. It all happened two weeks ago in Boston.
The occasion was Connected Health Symposium 2015, the 12th annual two-day meeting sponsored by Partners Connected Health. The theme of this year’s meeting was “The Internet of Healthy Things.”
This year’s meeting was the fifth I’ve had the pleasure to attend. And this time the organizers were super-focused: The conference's theme dovetailed with both the topic of the keynote opening address and the title of the book being debuted by the speaker.
That was Joseph C. Kvedar, M.D., Vice President of Connected Health at Partners HealthCare and the visionary behind the conference. Dr. Kvedar's new book is The Internet of Healthy Things. That made this year’s conference and speech a bit historic. But what I found most interesting was Dr. Kvedar’s use of technology in his presentation. It involved a look into the future of both healthcare and presentations, and it couldn't have been more intriguing and entertaining.
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Connected Health, Wearable Devices, and Big Data
If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you’ve been aware of the increasing interest in Big Data—the availability of large data sets and the challenges involved in capturing, analyzing, and making use of them. And if you’re involved in healthcare, you probably know about connected health, an intriguing concept for care delivery that’s as innovative as anything in medicine and closely linked to Big Data.
That’s because connected health uses technology to gather data and employ it to provide care remotely. Sometimes the devices used in this process are already available on the consumer market; and sometimes they're developed by health providers in partnership with private companies. For patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, or diabetes—or for people who live in remote locations—gathering data such as blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar level can help maintain good health without more expensive interventions. Data are analyzed by a healthcare professional remotely, and patient care can often be managed without visits to the emergency room or even to a doctor’s office.
The other exciting avenue opening up much more now via connected health is personal fitness and well-being. Wearable devices now available can give you seamless feedback on your vital signs, the number of steps you’ve taken today, your stress levels and sleeping habits, and even your EEGs.
Without a doubt, the future is already here as far as wearables for connected health are concerned.
Dr. Kvedar’s “The Internet of Healthy Things” Speech
What was exciting for me was the way all of this played out in Dr. Kvedar’s speech at Connected Health Symposium 2015. And judging by comments Dr. K and his team have received since the speech, I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Any time someone announces his or her new book that’s also the theme of a conference, interest is going to be high. I’ve been coaching Dr. Kvedar in his keynote speaking for four years now, and it’s amazing for me to watch video clips of his Symposium keynotes then and now and to note the growth of his speaking abilities.
But this speech was special because it used the technology of connected health itself in a new and fun way. Partners HealthCare has been getting the word out on connected health for years now; but for me, Symposium 2015 was the first time the medium and message linked seamlessly, so that the audience could see and hear what all the excitement is about. (For more on why you are always the message as much as what you say, see my blog on the 10 biggest public speaking errors and how to avoid them.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet “Sam”
One of the most powerful tools of connected health and the art of improving personal well-being is the virtual coach. The healthcare industry is already making good use of this technology. In hospital discharges, for instance, some people now prefer the virtual coach—who slowly and patiently explains procedures—to a human being giving the same information.
You can bet we’ll start to see the virtual coach option offered more and more in terms of interpreting data coming in from our own wearables. So, as part of his “Internet of Healthy Things” keynote, Dr. Kvedar introduced his own virtual coach: “Sam.” Throughout the talk, Sam would intervene in the “typical day in 2020” scenario that Dr. K asked us to imagine. We’d hear a soft tone, the image of an app would appear on the conference center screen, and then Sam’s voice would be talking to Dr. Kvedar.
From reminders upon Joe's waking up of his current weight and sleep deficit for the week, to a not-so-subtle suggestion to forego that chocolate chip cookie at the local bakery (the direction Joe was walking in after lunch gave him away), to a sum-up of fitness activities at day’s end: Sam was on the job, keeping Dr. Kvedar fit, attentive, and healthy.
A well-known local broadcaster was hired to furnish Sam’s voice, and I had the great pleasure of directing the Sam portions of the keynote and slide show. Originally, Sam was something of a drill sergeant; but we were able to soften him and make him into more of a likeable rogue with his “gentle” hints and suggestions. The idea was for the audience to respond positively and consider a virtual coach of their own, and we think the strategy worked.
How Are You Using Technology in Your Own Presentations?
You may not be incorporating a virtual coach or other futuristic elements in your presentations. But are you using the technology available today as an effective tool of audience engagement and interest? (To understand your listeners better to be able to reach and influence them, learn how to conduct an audience analysis.)
Voice-overs similar to Sam, embedded videos, and even customized talking avators can be part of your slide deck these days. If you’re presenting remotely, the combination of the visuals of your slides and your voice expanding upon what your audience sees can be a winning combination. Today you don’t need a full-blown webinar to offer information to users worldwide, though that option certainly exists. Software and online platforms in a wide range of options and sophistication are available, and they're increasingly easy to learn and use.
And don’t forget the beauty of low-tech! It’s all at your fingertips: your web cam and laptop mic, smartphone, high-def video camera (smaller and cheaper than ever), and video and audio editing software. Want to give yourself some warmer lighting when you're speaking from your web cam? Research buying a light kit for that and other indoor video shoots. Or enlist the help of that goose-neck lamp you have hanging around from college days, using a standard 60-watt bulb. You'll probably be amazed at the difference in your on-camera shot, and the price is certainly right!
Here's where you can find Dr. Kvedar's book The Internet of Healthy Things. And click on the image below to watch the Symposium 2015 keynote:
And say hello to Sam when you see him, won’t you?
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