10:20 - 10:40 amSaturday, September 6
LK 102
Connecting healthcare for our future
LK 102
Connecting healthcare for our future
Chief Medical and Science Officer, West Health
There’s no doubt you’re aware of the exciting new medical devices and emerging technologies being discussed this weekend at MedX. Yet, what you might not know is that many of these cutting-edge “gifted... Read more


There’s no doubt you’re aware of the exciting new medical devices and emerging technologies being discussed this weekend at MedX. Yet, what you might not know is that many of these cutting-edge “gifted gadgets” won’t be able to communicate with each other in medical settings. Here’s why that matters:

In intensive care units today there are, on average, ten medical devices monitoring a patient’s vital signs. But because they aren’t interoperable and can’t seamlessly share information, a doctor or nurse has to go from machine to machine, record copious amounts of data and enter it into the patient's electronic health record by hand; all of this is done at the end of their 18-hour shift. Does this sound like smart healthcare to you? As chief executive of West Health, we believe there’s a better way. We want healthcare that’s connected and seamlessly sharing data—from a patient’s pulse all the way through to a personal, electronic health record that can be accessed in real-time. We want a healthcare system to adopt intelligent methods that we have seen in almost all other parts of our lives— making it easier to take control of our health.

An essential part of creating connected health for us all is enabling an interoperable healthcare system. The advantages to improving this lack of communication are obvious. The Institute of Medicine points out that more than $130 billion is wasted each year through inefficiently delivered services, including mistakes, errors and preventable complications, which medical device interoperability could address. The FDA has called for interoperability to improve patient safety and will soon offer draft guidance, the National Coordinator for Health IT has declared interoperability a top priority for 2014, and even former President Clinton has issued a call to action.

At West Health, we’ve had this vision since 2009. From our innovative work in medical grade wireless utility, a reference architecture for design, coverage and security that enables wireless infrastructure to be incorporated into any hospital, much like electricity and plumbing; to our research to simplify the adoption of interoperability standards through a comprehensive, highly portable, embedded software approach.

All of this has led us to create the nonprofit Center for Medical Interoperability, a first-of-its-kind neutral forum led by hospital and health system CEOs. It brings together chief information officers, vendors and regulators to create systemic change that improves patient safety and lowers costs.

Because, an interoperable healthcare system will make a difference for all of us. Our extensive research has found that more than $30 billion can be saved annually through interoperability. Just imagine what we could do with that annual savings. We could pay for more than 500,000 students to attend four years of college or almost 700,000 teachers’ salaries.

So let’s put that $30 billion we spend every year to better use. Standards-based interoperability has already changed banking, retail, telecom, entertainment and virtually every other part of our lives and our economy--isn't it time we let interoperability improve healthcare?

In his role as chief medical and science officer, Dr. Joseph M. Smith brings strategic, engineering and clinical expertise to advance West Health's mission to pioneer new and smarter technologies, policies and practices, to make high-quality healthcare more accessible at a lower cost to all Americans. This is accomplished through the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Health Institute, the nonprofit Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center, the for-profit Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund and the for-profit West Health Incubator. Together, the four organizations of West Health are transforming the American healthcare experience. Dr. Smith’s role encompasses directing the West Health Institute’s medical and clinical research and is a co-manager of West Health Investment Fund. 

Dr. Smith has an extensive career at the intersection of clinical medicine and engineering. Prior to joining the Institute, he was vice president of emerging technologies for Johnson & Johnson in their corporate office of science and technology. He also served as senior vp and chief medical officer of Guidant/Boston Scientific’s Cardiac Rhythm Management. Before accepting leadership roles in the industry, Dr. Smith was a practicing cardiologist for almost two decades, starting at the Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston, with sub-specialty training in clinical cardiac electrophysiology. Dr. Smith also established the Arrhythmia Institute in Fairfax, VA, which specializes in interventional cardiac electrophysiology and clinical research.

Dr. Smith was named one of "20 People Who Make Healthcare Better" by HealthLeaders Magazine in 2010. He serves as faculty at the University of Southern California and advisor to Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, the Wellcome Trust, and a number of innovative healthcare and technology start-up companies. He has testified before Congress on the value of healthcare technology and the potential of wireless health technology to lower healthcare costs. He's also a member of the Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act (FDASIA) workgroup, providing expert input on topics identified by the FDA, ONC and FCC concerning the regulation of health information technology. Dr. Smith holds a B.E.S from The Johns Hopkins University; a Ph.D. in medical engineering and medical physics from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

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