This February marked the 53rd anniversary of John Glenn’s first manned orbital space flight, and one of NASA’s most significant contributions is the new technologies and products developed for the space program that have found their way into modern medicine.
Called “spinoffs,” these include digital imaging for breast cancer detection, laser angioplasty and medical ultrasound. In addition, implantable and external insulin pumps, which are based on technology used on the Mars Viking spacecraft, have aided insulin-dependent diabetics. These computerized pumps can infuse insulin at a pre-programmed rate, allowing more precise control of blood sugar level and eliminating the need for daily injections.
“Our quality and standard of living in this country is due, literally, to scientific advancements we got from the space program,” explains College of Aeronautics Dean Capt. Winston Scott (USN, Ret.), a former astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions.
As the space program has inspired medicine to boldly go where no one has gone before, many experts believe that harnessing technology in the delivery of medical care will result in lower costs that can be coupled with the desired goal of expanding the accessibility of healthcare sought through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To address the challenges presented by the ACA, CIANJ’s April Healthcare Roundtable featured a special presentation by Rep. Frank Pallone, during which he provided a unique perspective on the evolution of the law and its implementation moving forward.
He led a panel discussion of legal and industry experts that helped us to examine how the law affects health plans and coverage, while also providing insights on court decisions and possible legislative actions that could reshape the law and its scope.
The experts—Gibbons P.C. Counsel Christine Stearns, Esq., NJ Association of Health Plans Vice President Sarah M. Adelman and LeClairRyan Shareholder Neil Ekblom, Esq.—offered clear evidence that reducing healthcare costs was a focus of the ACA, but what does it mean for innovation? Will it inspire better patient care and medicines, too?
Technology will play an important role in any cost-savings initiatives, and one possible sign of progress was a recent pairing of IBM’s Watson supercomputer with some tech industry giants.
IBM is collaborating with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to create new health-based offerings that leverage information collected from personal health, medical and fitness devices. The results will be better insights, real-time feedback and recommendations to improve everything from personal health and wellness to acute and chronic care. These relationships are non-exclusive, and IBM anticipates many more companies to leverage the Watson Health Cloud platform.
Johnson & Johnson will collaborate with IBM to create intelligent coaching systems centered on preoperative and postoperative patient care, including joint replacement and spinal surgery. Solutions will be mobile-based, accessing the Watson Health Cloud and leveraging IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities. Johnson & Johnson will also look to launch new health apps targeting chronic conditions, which currently cost consumers as much as 80 percent of the $7 trillion in global healthcare spending.
Medtronic will leverage the Watson Health Cloud insights platform to collaborate with IBM around delivery of new highly personalized care management solutions for people with diabetes. The solutions will receive and analyze patient information and data from various
Medtronic devices, including insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, and use this information to provide dynamic, personalized diabetes management strategies to patients and their providers.
While the uncertainty that has come with the ACA has been bad for business, we are nonetheless working with our members to live within its new rules, and hope that the ACA will not discourage discovery and innovation, key ingredients in the “American dream,” and the DNA of business success and economic growth.
Instead, we hope that it serves as a catalyst for reducing costs while improving patient outcomes and the overall quality of healthcare in the United States. The most likely way to accomplish this is by harnessing the power of innovation and developing medically
related applications of existing technologies.
As our nation struggles to find the dollars to continue in the entrepreneurial tradition that propelled us to the stars, CIANJ will continue to support free enterprise and business-friendly policies here on Earth, and especially in Trenton.