Las Vegas, NV – I’ve been to the Consumer Electronics Show a few years in a row now, but this is the first time I’ve been able to attend the Digital Health Summit.

The first session was introduced by a robot named Nao, but that is par for the course at CES. The first talk kicked off with a panel on maternal health entitled the Wizards of Maternal Health. The two standouts for me were Morad Fareed and Dr. Scott Smith.

Morad Fareed, Founder and CEO of Square Roots, started talking about how he started the company and why. Square Roots is a company that looks at Health Literacy in the subject of maternal health. They found out that the science and education around maternal health was, for the most part, staying in science and education. Square Roots is taking on the challenge of collecting, organizing, and getting that information out there to the public.

Dr. Scott Smith, Leads the Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at NASA and explained a bit about what NASA is doing to figure out why certain astronauts are developing health issues after being in space. He explained that nutrition is one of the key factors that you can effect in your life that impacts you from birth. The amount of maternal health and women’s health information they are gathering from these studies is showing potential connections to conditions like PCOS and could largely impact health in America.

The next panel was focused on Connecting the Dots and Closing the Loop in Healthcare. One of the big phrases around CES this year is the IoT or the Internet of Things. What that means in the healthcare world patients and doctors being able to be better connected. Another way to look at it is the creation and use of sensor filled technologies and objects that lets information become shared in a more collaborative way. These Telehealth and remote services are allowing for patients to be monitored in new and more analytical ways, but also is changing the way doctors interact. Dr. Richard Migliori, M.D., EVP, Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealthcare, repeatedly mentioned that “the patient is only one of the consumers in the room during an appointment… the other is they person in the white coat.”

The technology changes in healthcare are changing the way doctors behave and get reimbursed for their services. Right now there is no way for doctors to be reimbursed for remote services. Migliori illustrated this shift as a doctor walking out into the waiting room and instead of being able to focus on the patients in the room, they can now also focus on the patients that didn’t make it to the waiting room. Technology is enabling doctors to do their job better and get to patients that may not be able to get to them. Migliori states that the value-based system needs to catch up to these remote technologies, but doesn’t think we are that far away from that happening.


The next panel of the morning focused on the relationships of Medtronics and Pathway Genomics with IBM Watson Health. The relationships are focusing on the “big data condition” of Diabetes. The amount of monitoring and collecting of data from diabetes is perfect for the big brain of IBM Watson. Medtronics and Pathway are working on making their technologies and information more approachable to the public because they recognize that people don’t immediately know what to do with the data they are collecting. The data needs to have an “intelligence wrapper” that helps point people in a smart direction and that is where real health change can happen.

Bill Evans, SVP, Innovation at Bridge Design spoke in the last section of this first session about the four critical areas in engagement and adherence. First creators need to understand the broad context of the disease and where you can add value both in patient and it their ecosystem. Second make sure you ask the question, “will they use it? And not can they use it?” The reason for this is that behavior change is easier when you consider not only what you are aking a person to give up and not just what they will gain. Third, choose your technology and design based on its ability to get used and don’t fall into the trap of just being cool and new. He also said not to be afraid to cannibalize your own products if it improves the experience. And Fourth, consider how the FDA affects your products and the way you will need to develop it to compensate. In this highly regulated world, don’t let your product die because you didn’t pay attention to the rules.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.