AppsForHealth 2017 keynote speakers announced

Annual digital health conference AppsForHealth has announced their keynote speakers – Jane Philpott Minister of Health and Nathalie Le Prohon VP of healthcare industry at IBM! The conference will be taking place on Thursday April 27th at Mohawk College.


Dr. Jane Philpot, Minister of Health in Canada

The Honourable Jane Philpott was elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Markham-Stouffville on October 19, 2015.  On November 4, 2015 she was appointed Minister of Health.

Before entering politics Jane served as Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital from 2008-2014.  She is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family & Community Medicine.  Jane led the opening of the Health For All Family Health Team – a new primary care home for 10,000 patients in the Markham-Stouffville community.  She also led the opening of the Markham Family Medicine Teaching unit, which trained 46 new family physicians in the community since 2010.

Jane studied medicine at the University of Western Ontario.  She completed a Family Medicine residency at the University of Ottawa and a Tropical Medicine fellowship in Toronto.  In 2012 she completed a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Toronto.

Jane worked in Niger Republic, West Africa from 1989 to 1998 where she practiced general medicine and helped to develop a training program for village health workers.



Nathalie Le Prohon – VP IBM Canada 

Nathalie Le Prohon is the Vice President, Healthcare Industry, for IBM Canada. She rejoined IBM in 2016 to lead a national team of industry professionals dedicated to working with clients in their Healthcare transformation journey.

Ms. Le Prohon has over 30 years of extensive experience in management and strategic planning. She began her career at IBM Canada and held several management and executive positions including Vice President Strategic Outsourcing Sales, IBM Global Services.

After leaving IBM, Ms. Le Prohon was President of Nokia Canada in 2003 and 2004.

Since 2007, Ms. Le Prohon was a full time director for various public and private entities and not-for-profit organizations. She is currently a director of 5N Plus ( and serves as the Chair of the Governance and Compensation Committee. She is also currently a director of BlackRock Metals, Casavant Frères and Make-A-Wish Québec.

Ms. Le Prohon was Chair of the Board of Groupe Conseil OSI from 2013 to 2015, which was purchased by Alithya, for which she continued to serve as Board member until May 2016. She was Chair of the Québec Breast Cancer Foundation for five years and a director of Bentall Kennedy LP and Hydro-Québec. She was a member of the external audit committee of the Department of National Defence (Canada).

Ms. Le Prohon has a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Major in MIS) from McGill University, an MBA from Concordia University and was named Concordia University ‘Alumna of the Year’ in 2009. She is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and has attained corporate governance certification at McGill University in 2009. She was honoured in 2013 by the MBA Association of Québec, and is a member of this association.

Our healthcare industry in Canada is facing many challenges, while at the same time, is undergoing tremendous change. New technology breakthroughs are helping our health providers improve both patient care and population health and reduce costs across the country. This is an industry inundated with data, most of it either unstructured or invisible – and the challenge lies in how to analyze it, gain insights from it, and apply those insights to drive healthcare transformation.

Come to this keynote to learn more about IBM’s unique perspective on cognitive systems in healthcare and how they are helping clients tackle the big healthcare issues. Nathalie Le Prohon, Vice President, Healthcare Industry with IBM Canada, will speak to how data, cloud, mobility and cognitive computing are transforming approaches to healthcare. Ms. Le Prohon will provide tangible examples of how this transformation is occurring in the areas of research, oncology, imaging and valued based care. Finally, she will highlight how IBM is focused on driving meaningful outcomes as well as supporting enablement of healthcare in non-traditional practice settings.


Apps For Health 2017 call for speakers


Apps For Health is back in 2017 on April 27th at Mohawk College. Check out the new website, videos of last year’s event and the call for speakers!


What is Apps For Heath?

Apps For Health is one of Ontario’s premier information-sharing, networking and recruiting events for the digital health industries. This interactive, one-day event provides a valuable opportunity for professionals from healthcare, technology, education to come together to discuss current and emerging trends in health, technology, medical education, and entrepreneurship.


Call for Speakers

Share your expertise and ideas with an audience of over 350 digital health professionals.

The Apps for Health organizing committee invites you to answer our call for speakers at this year’s Apps for Health.

Speaker opportunities are available on one of our nine panels and speakers may apply for solo presentations or for group presentations. All speakers receive  two complimentary passes to Apps for Health for themselves and a guest.

Areas of interest at this year’s conference focus on discussions related to Healthcare in Non-traditional Practice Settings and how digital health is making it possible to improve quality of care for anyone, anywhere.

Speakers are invited to speak about their unique clinical, research or tech-focused perspective. Topics could include but are not limited to:

People Places Things
Seniors Homes/Care Homes Open source solutions
Aboriginal populations Low resourced countries/regions New mobile apps
Rural/remote populations Ambulances Wearable devices
Infants/Children/Teenagers Continuity of care  Virtual care tools


Please apply for consideration by February 15, 2017.


AppsForHealth 2016 Keynote Announced



The opening keynote for AppsForHealth 2016 has been announced! Check out the details from below.

Now in its sixth year, Apps For Health is has become one of Ontario’s premier information-sharing, networking and recruiting event for the digital health industries. This interactive, one-day event provides a valuable opportunity for professionals from healthcare, technology and education to come together to discuss current and emerging trends in health, technology, medical education, and entrepreneurship. –

When: Thursday April 28th 2016

Where: Mohawk College @ 135 Fennel Avenue West Hamilton, Ontario



The opening keynote will be moderated by Mark Casselmen, CEO of COACH and will feature William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist, David Thomas, Vice President of Telus Health and Renato DiCenza, Executive Vice-President Enterprise and Innovation, Hamilton Health Sciences. A moderated discussion will follow.


William Charnetski photo

William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist

Mr. Charnetski is an accomplished national and global executive who has worked in the highest levels of business, law and government. He has a track record of leading transformational change, developing organizations, leading people to realize their potential, fostering internal and external partnerships and collaboration, and delivering results. He has spent more than 10 years working on integrated health solutions in Canada and around the world in the rapidly changing global pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Charnetski most recently worked in the United Kingdom with AstraZeneca, one of the world’s largest innovative pharmaceutical companies. He led the global government affairs and public policy function and had responsibilities for corporate social responsibility and regional communications. His team delivered tangible business results while enhancing health outcomes in many places around the world.

Prior to that, he was VP, Integrated Health Solutions, and General Counsel for AstraZeneca Canada. He was also a leader of the industry’s work with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and other Ontario ministries to help bring an integrated approach to adopting value-adding innovative pharmaceutical technologies to Ontario.

His work across the Canadian health care system has included building collaborative approaches to adopting innovative value-adding technologies across a variety of fields of study. In particular, for many years he has been a leader with the Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation at Western University – first as a member of its Advisory Council and now as a Health Innovator-in-Residence. Mr. Charnetski was an original member of the Steering Committee of the Centre for the Advancement of Health Innovation (within the Conference Board of Canada) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Health Economics in Edmonton.


Renato Discenza, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Innovation, Hamilton Health Sciences

Mr. Discenza oversees a diverse portfolio that includes Strategy and Project Management, Health Information Technology Services (HITS), Communications & Public Affairs, Business Development, and Research including providing executive leadership to Hamilton Health Sciences Research Institute.

Mr. Discenza is focused on revenue generation through existing and new HHS affiliated organizations, so that HHS is able to continue the delivery of excellent healthcare for the communities we serve. Mr. Discenza has over 25 years of extensive experience in the public and private sectors. He has a proven track record of identifying and delivering sustainable revenue generating initiatives, and leading transformational activities that enhance quality, efficiency, and employee and customer satisfaction.

Before joining HHS, Mr. Discenza was the President and CEO of Invest Toronto, and has held leadership positions with Infrastructure Ontario, Bell Canada, AT&T Canada and General Motors of Canada. A strong advocate of volunteer service, Mr. Discenza has a lengthy history of participation on the boards of many community agencies and organizations including the United Way of Toronto, the Change Foundation, the Toronto East General Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital.


david thomas Apps for HealthDavid Thomas, Vice President, Telus Health
David Thomas is a Vice President at TELUS Health, with national responsibilities for the development and implementation of large complex health deals and the solution platforms they require.. His team has been instrumental in the success of TELUS Health on many of their current large complex deals, taking these opportunities from concept through sales, implementation, to operations. Over the last few years he has been almost entirely focused on securing and expanding the footprint of health activity in Ontario, Newfoundland and British Columbia in the areas of drug information systems, chronic disease management, and telehealth. His team’s most recent success is the large Connecting GTA initiative, which has been rolling out successive stages of functionality in production since mid 2014.

Mr. Thomas has been with TELUS, via several acquisitions, since 2004, working for several years internationally in Asia Pacific, and then subsequently more nationally, on large projects in Ottawa, Toronto, Newfoundland and BC. He has twenty five years of experience in the Health Care industry spanning both the public and the private sectors, and across the diversity of acute care, ambulatory care and homecare services. David has extensive experience as a healthcare consultant and as an executive in operations, business development, and in managing large, complex, political projects.

He has to his academic credit a Master of Health Sciences in Health Administration from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science from McGill University. He has also completed a Certification Course from Harvard Law School in an Executive Program in Negotiation, and rounded out his business background with a number of post graduate economics courses.


Mark Casselman, CEO, COACH: Canada’s Health Informatics Association

Mr. Casselman oversees COACH, Canada’s Health Informatics Association. As CEO, Mr. Casselman is moving COACH forward to expand its capacity, enhance services to members, deliver increasing value across the association’s professional offerings, and address emerging areas such as mobile health (mHealth), Internet of Things (IoT), virtual care, and innovation management. Throughout his 15+ year career he has held key roles with major organizations in the industry, including PwC, University Health Network (UHN), and Humber College. He has a proven track record of working with stakeholders and integrating both shared and different perspectives to create successes.

His previous experience includes roles as Director, Healthcare Consulting (National Lead, mHealth) with PwC, board member with the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre, Senior Project Manager with the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation & SIMS, Professor, Health Promotion with Humber College, and co-founder of Motus Health.


Biondich, Paul

Paul Biondich, Director, Global Health Informatics Program, Regenstrief Institute

Dr. Paul Biondich, MD, MS is the Director of Global Health Informatics Program and Research Scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. He is also an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, as well as a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, an elected body of individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to the field of medical informatics.

In his leadership role of the Global Health Informatics program, Dr. Biondich participates in a wide variety of strategically important health informatics initiatives for PEPFAR, Gates Foundation, CDC, USAID, WHO and GIZ. All these projects provide a rich substrate that allows him to study these unique environments and learn the effectiveness of various health informatics interventions applied to these settings. He is also the co-founder and project lead of OpenMRS, an open source medical record system platform to support underserved populations, which is currently used in over 80 countries around the world.

Dr. Biondich participates in international architectural development efforts, both through his leadership of a WHO (World Health Organization) Collaborating Centre in Medical Informatics, and in the formation of a new adaptive technical assistance community that supports national planning and implementation of health information sharing architectures which is represented in an Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE).


Apps for Health 2016: Call for Speakers



Share your expertise with an audience of over 350 professionals, students and digital health leaders.

Apps for Health, one of Ontario’s premier information-sharing, networking and recruiting event for the global digital health industry, is seeking speakers to share new initiatives, new technology and discuss the latest trends and best practices in digital health at the April 28 conference.

This year’s conference will focus on “Connecting Consumers and Care Providers,” and will feature keynote presentations from leading experts and influencers in digital health like William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist and Paul Biondich, Director, Global Health Informatics Program, Regenstrief Institute . Areas of interest at this year’s conference include:

· Patient Engagement, including virtual patient communities, engagement design and outreach, health literacy and patient education design and other related.

· Virtual Care, including patient self-management, remote patient monitoring, health and wellness apps, mobile health and other related topics

· Big Data, including uses of unstructured clinical data, clinical references and publications, genomic data, web and social data and other related topics.

· Global mHealth including mHealth at scale, mHealth in low resource countries, wearable devices and quantified self, connected home health, machine to machine communication and other related topics.

Healthcare practitioners, IT professionals and entrepreneurs are invited to respond to the call by completing the online application, available at

Speaker opportunities are available on one of our 12 panels and speakers may apply for solo presentations or for group presentations.

Space is limited, so please submit your application by February 5, 2016. All speakers will receive two complimentary conference registrations.

About Apps for Health

Apps for Health will be held in Hamilton, Ontario on April 28, 2016. The conference is organized by Mohawk College’s mHealth and eHealth Development and Innovation Centre (MEDIC – attracts over 350 attendees each year, bringing together clinicians, IT professionals, policy makers, researchers and educators.

To learn more about Apps for Health visit Email questions to

Interview with Shreya Tekriwal of Hacking Health

Check out the following interview with Hacking Health (@hackinghealthca) team member Shreya Tekriwal (@ShreyaT), and don’t forget to register for the first ever Hacking Health Hamilton event taking place April 25th – April 27th at Mohawk College!


Tell me about yourself.

I graduated in 2012 from Western University with a business degree and am looking to start law school in September. While I was working at a local tech startup, I happened to volunteer for Hacking Health’s first event in Toronto. I was absolutely mesmerized by everything that happened that weekend and really enjoyed working with Hacking Health’s co-founders, Jeeshan Chowdhury, Dominic Savoie and Luc Sirois. Since then, I’ve been doing anything and everything I can to help grow this movement.


What can you tell us about Hacking Health Hamilton?

Hacking Health Hamilton is a weekend-long hackathon focused on bringing innovation to healthcare. We want to bring healthcare professionals together with technologists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, patient representatives and other stakeholders to not only identify the various problems in healthcare but to also develop ways in which we can remedy them using technology.




Why are you bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton?

The idea of bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton came about when David Kemper, our lead organizer in Hamilton, approached us. With the help of some awesome volunteers, the local team organized a Hacking Health Cafe held at the Innovation Factory back in October. The event was very well attended and it was clear that Hamilton had a thriving health-tech community. Hamilton is also home to Apps for Health and when Duane Bender proposed joining forces to bring a weekend full of innovation to the community, it was really a no-brainer.


Where and when is the event, and how can people register for it?

The weekend-long hackathon will be held on April 25-27, 2014 at Mohawk College. We’re collaborating with Apps for Health and Startup Weekend Hamilton to make this a very exciting weekend, full of innovation for those in and around Hamilton.

You can find out more about HH Hamilton and register through our website or email us at if you have any questions!




How did you become interested in health tech?

It was actually quite random and not at all planned. After graduation, I happened to grab coffee with the founder of a local design and development studio, which was really the first time I got into tech. About 4-5 months into my job, I ended up volunteering at Hacking Health Toronto in 2012 and that was my first time getting involved in anything health-tech. It may sound cheesy but I’d been trying to find something I truly felt passionate about – Hacking Health and health tech filled that gap for me.


Why did you start organizing Hacking Health?

I remember asking one of Hacking Health’s founders this same question and here’s what he said: hackers love to solve problems and healthcare has plenty to go around.

However, there was a problem that prevented innovation in healthcare. Healthcare professionals and technologists remained in silos. Lots of clinicians had ideas but didn’t have the right skills set or know the technologists who could turn these ideas into reality. That is essentially why Hacking Health came around – to foster the much needed collaboration. All stakeholders needed to be involved in building a solution right from the beginning and that really wasn’t happening before.




Where have Hacking Health events taken place so far?

We started in Montreal and have now organized events in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, London (ON), Hamilton, Cape Town (South Africa), Stockholm (Sweden), Strasbourg and Paris (France). We’ve got teams in Saskatoon, Calgary, New York City, Boston, Hong Kong, Whitehorse, Berlin, Zurich, Bucharest (and many more) working towards organizing events in 2014. A full list of upcoming events can be found here.


What are some of the most interesting health tech solutions that have been developed at Hacking Health events?

I could never pick the most interesting one – they’re all so different and so uniquely interesting in their own way. What we find amazing is the variety of solutions that are developed and the people who drive them. They’re not just software solutions but also hardware. Hacking Health Strasbourg even had an animal health project! The project leaders aren’t always healthcare professionals or technologists either – one of our successful projects was driven by a team of social workers in Toronto. A glimpse of past projects and some of our success stories can be found here.




Why should people attend Hacking Health?

I think the reasons vary from person to person. Hacking Health events provide participants with the opportunity to make a difference, to learn new skills and to meet some amazing people in the community who you wouldn’t interact with otherwise. Many others join us because they’re looking to validate their idea and this is a very easy, cost-effective way of doing so.


What can attendees expect at Hacking Health Hamilton?

Attendees can expect to step outside of their comfort zones and learn how to communicate and work with individuals from completely different backgrounds as themselves. The whole weekend is so full of activity! It starts off with pitches on Friday night and ends with demos on Sunday afternoon and it’s amazing how much teams can accomplish over a weekend.

You can also check out some of the videos from our past hackathons!




How can the community help you make Hacking Health Hamilton a success?

Tell your friends about Hacking Health Hamilton and bring at least five people along with you! Other than that, it’s really about keeping the conversation going. We’re always looking for volunteers and leaders in the community to join forces with so if you’re interested, definitely get in touch!


AppsForHealth 2014 keynote speaker announced

AppsForHealth (@AppsForHealth) has announced that Dr. Brian Goldman (@NightShiftMD) will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 edition of the conference taking place on Friday April 25th. Check out his bio below and register for AppsForHealth 2014!


appsforhealthHe’s part-Dr. Oz, part-Ralph Nader and all-patient friendly.

Dr. Brian Goldman is one of Canada’s most trusted voices in medicine, a doctor who thinks like a patient.

He makes complex medical issues digestible for audiences on radio, television and on the speaking circuit. He personalizes medicine and the human frailties of his profession.

Dr. Goldman has worked as a health reporter for The National, CBC Television’s flagship news program, and for CBC-TV’s The Health Show. As well, he served as senior production executive during the launch year of Discovery Health Channel, Canada’s only 24-hour channel devoted to health programming.

His CBC Radio show, the “house doctor”, is syndicated in 20 markets across Canada. Dr. Goldman hosts CBC Radio One’s White Coat, Black Art, where he takes listeners behind the scenes of medical offices.

He discusses health care topics ranging from queue-jumping to confronting medical errors and dealing with them. He is not afraid to address tough or controversial issues head on in a comprehensive way. Also unafraid to use his own medical mistakes for examples on how doctors can improve.

In the trenches for more than 20 years, Dr. Goldman has been and continues to be a respected emergency physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Dr. Goldman has written two books, The Night Shift – Real Life in the Heart of the ER and The Secret Language of Doctors.

Dr. Goldman’s style on stage is earnest, heartfelt and sincere. He has a passion for compassion.

MEDIC steals the show at growing AppsForHealth



Last week I attended Mohawk College’s 2013 edition of AppsForHealth (@AppsForHealth). This was the third edition of AppsForHealth, a conference that describes itself as,

“AppsForHealth is quickly becoming Ontario’s premier information-sharing, networking and recruiting event for the mHealth and eHealth industries. This interactive, one-day event provides a valuable opportunity for professionals from healthcare, technology and education to come together to discuss current and emerging trends in health and education technology.”

I’ve been to the conference each year, and it’s been really cool to watch it grow. My numbers might be wrong, but if my memory serves me correctly it has grown from about 140 attendees at AppsForHealth 2011, to about 190 at AppsForHealth 2012, to 340 at last week’s 2013 edition. The scope of the conference seems to have grown over time as well, with educational health apps highlighted more specifically this year.

I attended talks and panel discussions during the education stream of the event because that’s my focus. I thought the panel discussion portions were great in particular, though a friend of mine quipped that I should instead “go to the stream that you understand the least to learn the most”. The discussions during the gamification panels were the most interesting to me, specifically the idea of gamification “losing its power to engage” as every mobile app, contest and website integrates game elements as a design technique. Gamification is a bit trendy at the moment, and everyone knows trendy things can suddenly go out of fashion.

The event itself was executed wonderfully, right down to the design of the conference program. One thing I didn’t even realize would be on display at the event was the new Mohawk eHealth Development and Innovation Centre (MEDIC):

MEDIC helps Canadian businesses, especially small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop and commercialize innovative healthcare IT products and provides a centre of excellence for organizations undertaking interconnected healthcare projects. Through MEDIC, clients can access a working eHealth ecosystem, including the technology, know-how and industry contacts that are necessary in the development and commercialization of new health IT innovations. As an online “living-lab” environment, MEDIC allows stakeholders to work through a significant part of their development in a cost-effective, secure, efficient manner.

Mohawk researchers and staff were on hand to give a live demo of just what a “working eHealth ecosystem” looks like, and it was far and away my favourite part of the event. The huge display on the back wall of MEDIC displayed a diagram of an eHealth ecosystem that lit up to depict the system’s interactions with mobile devices and coffee table size surface devices.








As with prior years AppsForHealth included a student competition to design solutions to mobile healthcare challenges, and you can see the winners here. You can check out videos made for some of the entries into the student competition portion of AppsForHealth below:




AppsForHealth 2013 just over 2 weeks away

appsforhealth2013What is AppsforHealth?

AppsForHealth is quickly becoming Ontario’s premier information-sharing, networking and recruiting event for the mHealth and eHealth industries. This interactive, one-day event provides a valuable opportunity for professionals from healthcare, technology and education to come together to discuss current and emerging trends in health and education technology.

Who Should Attend AppsForHealth?

Health Care Professionals, Consultants and Researchers from Hospitals, Clinics, Local Health Integration Networks, Community Care Access Centres and Health Research Organizations
Post-Secondary Educators and Researchers in Health Care and IT
Government and Not-for-Profit Leaders and Policymakers
Students Interested in Health Technology Innovation
Mobile Medical Technology Consultants, Vendors and Application Developers

When: Thursday May 16th (9:00am – 5:30pm)
Where: Mohawk College (135 Fennel Avenue West Hamilton, Ontario0



Apps For Health returns in 2013

mohawkappsIn case you haven’t heard of it, Apps For Health is Ontario’s eHealth conference. The event has been running out of Mohawk College for the last 2 years and will be returning on May 16th this year. Mohawk College itself is making a big push into mHealth and eHealth with the Mohawk eHealth Development and Innovation Centre (MEDIC):

MEDIC helps Canadian businesses, especially small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop and commercialize innovative healthcare IT products and provides a centre of excellence for organizations undertaking interconnected healthcare projects. Through MEDIC, clients can access a working eHealth ecosystem, including the technology, know-how and industry contacts that are necessary in the development and commercialization of new health IT innovations. As an online “living-lab” environment, MEDIC allows stakeholders to work through a significant part of their development in a cost-effective, secure, efficient manner.

Pairing McMaster University’s world class medical school strength with the software development talent in Hamilton is obviously a promising opportunity for the city. Hamilton Economic Development and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce had a great video produced last year that effectively overviewed the city’s strengths.

Apps For Health has been a great vehicle for fostering a community around eHealth and mHealth in the region. The event features panel discussions and talks across different streams (technology, health, education), as well as a student app design competition. The app design competition involves specific challenges posed by organizations like World Vision to solve interesting healthcare problems with mobile software. Last year I was invited to be on a discussion panel (UI design). What I really enjoyed most about the event was how directly the applications being discussed improved people’s lives (sometimes by saving them!).

kevintweetI’m likely biased because my research revolves around mobile educational software, but on last year’s panel discussion I suggested that educational software was the low-hanging fruit for mHealth. I think you can group eHealth applications into some different areas: IT solutions (electronic health records, data collection / monitoring / measuring / visualization, etc), education / wellness / preventative healthcare, automated diagnosis, and automated treatment. To me the potential cost-saving efficiency gains through IT solutions like eHealth records are both huge and technically feasible, but also difficult because of the amount of bureaucracy that can be involved in many cases. There’s been some interesting work done in automated diagnosis, with skin cancer detection apps and the Tricorder X Prize, but these problems remain very difficult. To me the holy grail for eHealth software would be automated treatment. We already have technology that allows doctors to treat patients remotely with robotic surgery. The next step will be to remove the doctor and have the software perform the surgery automatically. That might sound ambitious now, but I suspect that going into the future algorithms will outperform doctors and nurses at more and more tasks (though as always, don’t expect the human factor to ever be removed entirely). An “automated nurse” of sorts is apparently in the works, but I suspect automated treatment is orders of magnitude greater in difficulty than automated diagnosis.

appsforhealth2013Which to me leaves education / wellness / preventative healthcare as the problem of choice to tackle. There doesn’t seem to be the same bureaucratic headaches, and the technical feasibility is there right now to tackle these problems. That’s why I was happy to see that this year’s Apps For Health has an education stream, and they’ve even updated the logo to include “and education”. The thing with educational health software is that you can’t just dump information into an app and expect it to engage your target demographic. If people are already self-motivated they can just Google search whatever healthcare information they need. I’d wager that to really make these apps engaging to users that normally wouldn’t bother, a more novel approach like gamification is required. Again, I’m admittedly biased here, because my research has revolved around gamification. Gamification is a promising approach, but as Gartner research VP Brian Burke said when discussing a study that predicted 80% of all gamification apps will fail to meet their objectives by 2014, “you can’t just put badges on something and expect it to work”. All of this is why I’m most excited to hear the “Gamification Deep Dive” talk by Michael Ferugusson CEO of Ayogo.

michaelfergussonMichael is CEO of Ayogo, a company that has won many awards for the work they do creating mobile and social games that improve people’s health in meaningful, measurable ways. He has spoken eloquently about how games can increase patient engagement and improve health outcomes at the 3rd Patient Adherence & Advocacy Summit in February 2013, Health 2.0 in Berlin, Games for Health 2012 in Boston and the 2012 mHealth Summit in Washington to name a few.

The line-up of student challenges for Apps For Health 2013 looks excellent so far:

  • Support Assessment and Counseling for Children with Disabilities
  • Assisting People to Self-Manage their Physical and Mental Well-Being
  • Challenging the Stigma of Testicular Canfcer with Technology
  • Mobile Solution for Calculating Correct Medication Dosages

I’ve bought my ticket for Apps For Health and I suggest whether you’re in the software, startup or healthcare industry in Ontario that you sign-up to attend as well. I can’t wait for Apps For Health 2013!