Next Wednesday, February 28th, BioKansas is partnering with Stinson Leonard to host the Digital Health Business Summit, the capstone of a three part series originally developed to support the burgeoning digital health community that has formed in Kansas City and the surrounding region. With two events under our belt and a multitude of introductions and connections later, I can look back in hindsight and declare that the title of the event is too narrow in scope. Many people in the region, upon hearing the title of the event, will immediately tune out and think that this event has no relevance to them or their organization. But rest assured, we have put together a fantastic program that will be relevant to you, even if you’re working with patients, in a lab or on a clinical trial. Matt Condon, Founder & CEO of Bardavon Health Innovations and Chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, is our keynote speaker, and will give a talk on what KC has been doing, and can do, to disrupt and innovate in the healthcare space. We’ll hear FDA Digital Health Updates from Sheva Sanders and Tricia Kaufman of Stinson, and will also engage two thought-provoking panel discussions, the first on one health approaches to digital health and the second on disruption and how technology is changing the way we develop drugs, perform clinical trials and treat patients. To round out the event and provide a chance to continue the discussions started during the afternoon programming, Stinson will host a networking reception, complete with food and drink and glorious views of Kansas City from their 29th floor offices.
What I’ve come to realize in coordinating these events, and what we hope to convey at next week’s event, is that digital and data applications have become integral, and often sizable, components of nearly every industry segment our members work in. For example, next week’s event will feature Doug Dockhorn, Vice President of Global Data and Advanced Analytics at PRA Health Sciences. Most people in the community would recognize PRA as one of the largest life science employers in the region, with more than 500 employees split between their two facilities in Lenexa. However, most people are unaware that that number includes more than 70 employees working on the technology side, including data analytics and processing, automation, and even artificial intelligence.
I was blown away when I first heard those numbers, and I think most others will be as well. And that’s just one example in an industry that has finally started to realize the value of the data that’s being generated. The healthcare industry has long understood that there is considerable value in the access they have to all of the patient data on their systems - just ask Cerner. But drug development companies and contract research organizations have been much slower to come to the realization that there is also considerable value in the data being generated in pre-clinical animal studies and clinical trials. And as research brings us closer and closer to precision medicine, the need to be able to merge all of this disparate data will only grow and grow. The focus of one of our panels at next week’s event will be on the opportunities to impact human healthcare by integrating human and animal data. On the panel will be Professor Jerry Wyckoff, who is leading the efforts behind 1Data, a human-animal health database designed to help save lives and improve the quality of life for humans and animals, as well as Brad White, Director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State, and Joe Young, President of AGL Technologies, who are both developing technologies that can track animals and animal health, and allow for intervention and treatment at much earlier stages of illness. The application of similar technologies in humans will one day be a game changer.
What I’ve also come to realize is that Kansas City has the assets, expertise, and community support needed to grow into a leader in this space. Kansas City is home to a large number of digital health companies, many of whom are thriving and have been able to find both the talent and the capital they need to grow. But there is still much to be done and much that you can do. At next week’s event, you’ll hear from folks like Jeff Dunn of Redivus Health, who will participate on the disruption panel, and will provide his insights not only on how Redivus is disrupting healthcare delivery, but also how Kansas City can better support companies like his. You’ll also hear from Karen Fenaroli, who will be moderating the disruption panel, and who has been working tirelessly to attract General Assembly to Kansas City to develop a robust talent pipeline that all of us can benefit from. So as you can see, whether you work at a straight up tech company, or at a healthcare, pharmaceutical, or contract research organization, there’s a little something for everyone at the Digital Health Business Summit next week. We hope you’ll join us for the event, and add your voice to the discussion as we look to make Kansas City a hub for healthcare innovation.
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