I traveled to Aspen, Colorado, earlier this summer to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival: Spotlight Health. Presented by the Aspen Institute, which is an international nonprofit think tank that encourages the exchange of innovative ideas, the festival is deemed the nation’s premier public gathering place for leaders around the globe to present and discuss today’s pressing issues and ideas. There are a variety of people from many disciplines that attend; however, I specifically attended the Spotlight Health part of the festival.

With keynotes, interactive sessions and panel discussions, Spotlight Health covers the cutting edge topics of health and medicine that aren’t usually covered by other health care conferences. With a tagline of “Not Your Ordinary Health Conference,” Spotlight Health accurately reflects health care in today’s age of advancing technology and disruptive forces.

I enjoyed attending Spotlight Health because it provided me a unique opportunity to meet thought leaders and innovators like myself. Below are a few highlights about some of the topics that were covered at the festival.

Pharma Continues to Promote Patient Empowerment

Pharma’s role is evolving in the day and age of direct-to-consumer advertising. Since the rise in advertising, the industry reports that the number of patients who diagnose, or recognize, their own disease is increasing. Further — thanks to television and the internet, patients are becoming increasingly empowered in the digital world. Think WebMD, mobile apps and patient navigator programs. It’s no surprise that patients are more invested and active in their own health care process than ever before.

Artificial Intelligence is Here, and Will Continue to Evolve

We live in an age today when advances that only yesterday seemed impossible are actually possible, and AI, in addition to precision medicine, are a couple of those examples. Some people prefer the term Augmented Intelligence as opposed to Artificial Intelligence to more accurately reflect the true relationship of the technology to the field. Regardless of what we call it, AI will play an important role with tomorrow’s clinician. Because our society is becoming ever richer with data, it will become increasingly difficult for human beings alone to sort through, and process, all of the relevant information that’s available. AI can assist us with the data because it can potentially discern patterns and trends that the human eye can’t.



Great discussion re future of health care at SpotlightHealth. David Holmberg, President and CEO Highmark Health. Deborah DiSanzo, Global General Manager IBM Watson Health. Ken Davis, President and CEO Mount Sinai Health System.


Precision Medicine Stands to Revolutionize Patient Health

Precision medicine will become increasingly designed to optimize efficiency or therapeutic benefit for particular groups of patients. This customized form of care taps into genetic and molecular profiling to tailor treatments to specific patients. Ten years ago, there were about 13 different precision medicine prescriptions on the market. Today, there are over 150. The progress has been astounding and is expected to reduce trial and error and unnecessary waste as well as cost. Overall, we are optimistic that advances in precision medicine will improve patient outcomes and drive down costs.

If you’re interested to attend next year’s festival, visit Spotlight Health’s website here.



Closing session at SpotlightHealth. Jeff Goldberg, The Atlantic, and Tom Price, Secy of HHS. Three priorities: opioid epidemic, childhood obesity, severe mental illness.