Industry leaders share their big takeaways on CES 2020

LAS VEGAS—Judging by all the smarter wearables and health sensors at CES 2020, digital health is only going to continue take up more real estate at the massive Sands Expo center.

Taking in all the products can be a bit mind-boggling (the show spans more than 2.9 million net square feet of exhibit space, according to CES), but there are broader themes that emerged as tech companies focus on ways smart devices can improve consumers' health and wellness.

Industry leaders shared their own takeaways from CES 2020:

Privacy and problem solving

  • Jiayan Chen, a partner with law firm McDermott Will & Emery: "Privacy was clearly top of mind during many of the sessions at CES that focused on digital health topics. There remain questions, however, about how companies should address the friction between public concerns regarding privacy, on the one hand, and companies’ need for access to large amounts of data—including health and medical information—to develop products and solutions and remain innovative and competitive in the digital age, on the other hand," she said. 

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"From a privacy standpoint, what are consumers and patients willing to agree to in order to have access to those innovations, and have they and lawmakers been armed with sufficient information in order to make informed decisions about how data should be used in furtherance of innovation? That is a key question and one that I think stakeholders will continue to wrestle with in the foreseeable future," she said.

  • Michelle Stansbury, vice president of IT innovation at Houston Methodist Center for Innovation: "Walking around here you can get excited about everything you that you see, but you have to stick to the problems that you're trying to solve in your institution. You have to ask, what is the problem that this going to solve, or is it just cool technology? We focus on where the problems lie and how can we move the needle on these problems, and that could be technology to improve the patient journey or getting physicians back in front of patients. We don't get hyped up on every new technology, because it's easy to do."

Harder working wearables

  • Arpit Jain, vice president of delivery at digital consultancy Nerdery: "We’re starting to see advancements in the healthcare space that improve the proactive capabilities of wearable devices, rather than focus on informative features. When health wearable devices and telehealth first came on the scene, we saw devices like smartwatches, baby cameras, smartphone apps and more that are health monitors and collect data. Now we’re at the point where these devices will start predicting and providing information to consumers ahead of time, making that transition to a preventive health device. This is a significant turn that will improve the healthcare experience and providers’ ability to give better care to patients.”

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  • Eddie Martucci, CEO of Akili Interactive: "I'm seeing more of a convergence at CES of consumer technology and healthcare, which traditionally has been separated. There's a blurring of the lines between fitness wearables and healthcare. I'd like to see more integration of that technology with the health space. And I'd like to see more of a presence by health systems here as they are the drivers of healthcare." 
  • Michael Bess, M.D., vice president of healthcare strategies at UnitedHealthcare: "What I've noticed is the number of niche players with wearables and technology to help you sleep and other digital health tools and the amount of investment in this sector, and that gets me excited. It's been a slow ramp-up, but now we're starting to see growth in telehealth visits and virtual health capabilities."
  • Tony Chahine, CEO of textile computing company Myant: "It's our fourth year at CES and I'm very excited about this new category of wearables and health and wellness and the ability to consumerize healthcare. The more people are talking about it, the more we can change the burden of healthcare costs and the distribution of healthcare. Until healthcare is distributed across populations, we will not see massive solutions. It's great to have people sharing and developing ideas. This market is massive and no one can do it alone; it has to be collaborative. I'm excited to be a part of it."

Augmented intelligence and virtual reality

  • Brad Shaink, administrative director of digital innovation at Houston Methodist Center for Innovation: "I'm at looking at virtual reality and wearables with a focus on, where are wearables headed in the future and what are people going to be wearing? Because if they are wearing it and it tracks data and it can help to monitor or improve health, then we need to be planning for that and how to take and integrate that data with our electronic health record."
  • Heather Cox, chief digital health and analytics officer at Humana, on the technology innovations she is most excited about to impact healthcare: "Augmented intelligence and providing it at scale. The beauty of what it can unlock is really the opportunity, so we need to go about this in a balanced way. In healthcare it's always going to be some level of supervised intelligence. What we can do to drive out the noise and friction, the things we can do to bring transparency forward, rip costs out and improve people's health at the same time, all of those are imminent opportunities that I'm excited about."