By Dr. Desiree Cox, MD, PhD
Four billion “new minds” will be connected to the world wide web in four to seven years. This means that every person on earth will have access to the world’s information in a split second and at near zero cost. So what?
With the explosive growth of technology, anything is possible. We can disrupt conventional or outdated thinking, particularly in medicine and the healthcare industry.
The Bahamas has one of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer in the Caribbean and Latin American regions. There are many reasons for these rising rates of chronic diseases in the region including crumbling healthcare infrastructure, outdated administrative systems, geography – small, scattered island nations and by extension little or no information sharing – lack of human resources. We need to re-think how healthcare is provided in the region.
Healthcare innovation can come from anyone, not just healthcare professionals; and it can come from anywhere. We need to empower patients and the wider public to have a greater role in co-creating health by encouraging entrepreneurship; and by educating people about how to take advantage of this unprecedented age so they can convert their health innovation ideas to “start up” that earn good money for themselves and their families.
The Bahamas relies heavily on tourism. The current sun-sea-and-sand tourism product is not enough to create enough jobs for our ever-increasingly unemployed work force. It is time to rebrand The Bahamas as an innovation gateway for the region! We have the potential to lead a change in dynamics of healthcare from a primary focus on treating disease to a focus on reversing, preventing disease and creating optimal health.
The Bahamas is already a place people want to come to, thanks in part to our geographic location, currency, and systems developed in the tourism and banking sectors. We have other unique selling points we are not taking advantage of.
Unlike others in the region, in 2013/14 The Bahamas enacted into law its regulatory and ethics process for stem cell therapy, which has the capacity to attract, encourage, oversee and assist in developing associated businesses, providers, entrepreneurs and investors. There are already stem cell therapy and research projects operating in Nassau and the Okyanos Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Freeport, and more coming on stream over the next year or so.
With the Enterprise Bill, the door is now open for other health and biotech business opportunities here. But, are we preparing Bahamians of all social and economic backgrounds to take advantage of opportunities of these extraordinary times for creating new jobs for themselves and their communities?
Changing direction and resetting the course for a country is not easy. It requires a radical shift in our perception if health, healthcare and well-being, access and equity. To achieve this, we need to catalyse a vibrant ecosystem – environment – for future health innovation to thrive. That’s why I created the Health, Self-Efficacy, Analytics and Life-Design Innovation Incubator (The HEALinc): www.thehealinc.com.
This year, October, 7-9, The HEALinc, together with our local and international sponsors and partners, is mounting the inaugural Future Health Innovation Summit at the Melia Resort at Cable Beach, Nassau, as a platform for creating the future of health, now (www.healincfuturehealthsummit.com). The summit is the first-of-its-kind event in the region as it breaks away from conventional conference format, normally limited to one discipline by bringing together experts from many disciplines and areas of interest in this unique collaboration. The event will be under the distinguished patronage of Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of The Bahamas, the Minister of Health, Dr Duane Sands, will deliver opening remarks.
There will be 50+ speakers and experiential workshops in regenerative medicine, AR/VR, IBM Watson, and nutrigenomics. Featured keynote speakers include pioneers, luminaries and trailblazers such as Peter Diamandis (co-founder of Singularity University, XPrize and Celularity); Dr Bob Hariri (co-founder of Celularity), Dr Kyu Rhee (VP, IBM and lead for IBM Watson), Tanmay Bakshi (a self-taught 14-year-old programmer who is the youngest developer of IBM Watson), Professor Joshua Hare (Longeveron), Dr Marc Penn (Okyanos Centre for Regenerative Medicine), Bill Fields (former VP of Walmart), Bernie Knobbe (VP Health Benefits at AECOM, one of the largest employers in the US) and more.
The summit is open to all for registration. Healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses) will be able to obtain CME points (ACCME, AMA and CNE points) at the summit. However, this summit is not just for healthcare professionals; it is for anyone wanting to learn how to take advantage of these extraordinary times.
Session, panel discussion and workshop topics include: Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Precision Health and Digital Health, Aging Well and Achieving Optimal Health, Nutrigenomics & the Microbiome, Blockchain in Healthcare and more.
The programme format includes: speed-mentoring sessions with Future Health pioneers, leaders, investors and entrepreneurs; experiential workshops; visionaries showcasing pipeline regenerative medicine projects scheduled to come on stream in The Bahamas; as well as social activities that allow investors, providers, payers, researchers and regulators to connect and collaborate about key challenges and ways of creating the future now.
We need to stimulate hearts and minds to think creatively and strategically about the bigger picture and apply that knowledge to reforming healthcare, its delivery and efficacy. We need to educate healthcare professionals and patients differently.
We must act at once to engage everyone – professionals, patients and families, investors, corporations and entrepreneurs - to join in building a better future for this region, now
Register for the summit online at www.healincfuturehealthsummit.com. For more information, contact the summit organising team: USA/Canada (877) 426-5361; Bahamas (855) 826-1165; Worldwide (716) 442-3798.
• Dr Desirée Cox, MD, PhD (www.desireecox.com) is the founder/creator of the 2018 Inaugural HEALinc Future Health Innovation Summit (www.healincfuturehealthsummit.com) and Founder and CEO of The HEALinc Incubator (www.thehealinc.com). She is the first Bahamian Rhodes Scholar and first female British Caribbean Rhodes Scholar, a medical doctor, creative artist and published author, Dr Cox has earned degrees from McGill, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and has recognized by the British Medical Journal as a ‘Renaissance Woman’ for her application of psychological medicine to real world problems. At the 40th Independence celebrations, in 2013, The Bahamas Government honoured her by issuing a 70 cent stamp into circulation bearing her photograph. In October 2017, she was honoured by Oxford University and is one of six Oxford University alumni whose photographic portraits hang in the Great Hall/Dining Hall at Pembroke College, Oxford University.In April 2018 she was a presenter at the prestigious Fourth Annual Vatican Conference ‘Unite to Cure: A Global Healthcare Initiative’ alongside speakers such as Dr Peter Diamandis (co-founder of Singularity University), Dr Sanjay Gupta, Dr Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and more.