Impressions from the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum

Guest post from Patrick Bartosch at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute 

Health and tech leaders from across the country gathered in Orlando’s Medical City last week for the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum. Organized by the Lake Nona Institute, the Impact Forum strives to unlock innovation to create sustainable health communities and advance quality of life by exploring the intersections of wellness, sustainable living, and education. Speakers this year included the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the CEO of BlackBerry, as well as Sanford-Burnham CEO Perry Nisen, among many others.

The discussions covered a diverse array of topics such as the future of technology in medicine, the increasing costs of developing new treatments, building healthy communities, and leadership in veterans care. Here are a few highlights:

  • Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, spoke about the things that hold us back in life, particularly when it comes to improving our health. According to Oz, these are: 1) time, 2) money, 3) knowledge, and 4) fear of change. While we in the health industry can’t necessarily do anything in regards to 1) and 2), we can increase knowledge and we can encourage change. Technology is one of the ways we can directly impact how people monitor and improve their health. Just think about all the apps that are out there now to track your eating habits and exercise.
  • CNN’s Sanjay Gupta led a panel discussion about personalized medicine, explaining how cancer genes can predispose certain people to develop malignant tumors at one point in their lives. The panelists also discussed encouraging results from very early immunotherapy trials in Europe. The idea behind immunotherapy is to strengthen the human immune system, so that it can successfully fight diseases such as cancer on its own. In contrast to treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy focuses solely on the targeted, e.g. cancerous, cells and leave other, healthy cells alone.
  • Former Sanford-Burnham CEO John Reed, who now leads Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development at Roche, chaired a discussion about treatment costs and the huge investments necessary to bring new medicines to the patient. The panel offered a broader view of the cost of medicines across the world. Here in the U.S., patients pay much more for novel and promising drugs than in the rest of the world. One reason for this is that most pharma R&D is financed by the income pharmaceutical companies generate with these new, expensive drugs in the U.S.

The closing keynote address of this year’s Impact Forum was delivered by the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, who spoke about the efforts under way to make the department more efficient and improve veterans care. The Secretary’s presentation ranged from political difficulties his department faces when trying to increase efficiencies, to the challenges in recruitment, to the new Orlando VA Medical Center that opened in February 2015 in Lake Nona Medical City. Secretary McDonald reminded us with compelling and emotional videos of veterans that the work he and his department does is crucial to those who served our country. Kudos to the team at the Lake Nona Institute and to all speakers for creating an engaging, stimulating, and informative event. We already look forward to the 2016 Impact Forum!

A Look Back: The 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum

After 3 days, 29 speeches and panels and hundreds of discussions, the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum drew to a close Friday afternoon.

And from the spirited conversations that continued while many of the 250 nationally-recognized presenters, panelists, thought-leaders and attendees headed homeward, the Forum clearly achieved its goal of exploring ways to unlock innovation to create sustainable healthy communities and advance quality of life for all.

This was done by examining the intersections of wellness, sustainable living, education and other disciplines that – separately or together – are seeking to further advance life science and healthier living. While the topics and the participants were diverse, they all wrestled with the same challenge:

How do we move the needle on health care?

Some of the dialogue focused on new ways technology and medicine can blend to improve healthcare delivery, while others addressed the impact of more-engaged patients on the quality and delivery of care. Others brought to life still-nascent topics – like how to accelerate “personalized medicine” and the potential of traditional and social media to enhance patient engagement – that are sure to advance further in the comings months and years.

As cardiac surgeon and host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” Mehmet Oz, said during remarks on Friday, “the one piece of advice I have for consumers is to celebrate life.” And with the commitment to innovation in healthcare displayed throughout the three-day Forum, individuals should have even more reasons for celebrating in the future.

Many thanks to presenting sponsor Johnson & Johnson for spearheading the Forum, along with our other sponsors: Cisco, the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, GuideWell, Sharecare, Tavistock Foundation, Nemours, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, UCF College of Medicine, UF Health, Orlando VA Medical Center, Dr. Phillips Charities, Florida Hospital, Garmin, Insurance Office of America, MediFit, Mirati Therapeutics, Orlando Health, PepsiCo, PwC, Technogym, and the United States Tennis Association.

Will the cutting-edge technologies, burgeoning ideas and lively debates from the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum lead to the next generation of innovation in health care?

Stay tuned …


Day Three: The End… But With Beginnings

The final day of the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum was filled with announcements. The day kicked off with news of the launch of IQ Orlando, a business venture among Tavistock Group, University of Central Florida, AHG Group, and Florida Hospital aimed at recruiting and launching life science companies in the Orlando area. Also announced was a partnership between Lake Nona and wellness builder Delos, which will bring health-focused construction, design practices and other innovations to Lake Nona’s residential and commercial projects. Finally, the Florida Institute of Technology was presented as the latest organization to join the Lake Nona community.

Among the morning’s other highlights, Gloria Caulfield, the Forum’s executive director, discussed the growth rates of chronic disease and the vision of Lake Nona to not only innovate in building a healthier community, but to share that knowledge and design that can improve health across communities nationwide.

Joshua Sharfstein, former secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene, extended the healthy communities conversation by explaining how technology can help improve population health. But he also addressed a more sobering and common theme throughout the Forum: the cost of health care. He presented data showing that the cost of health care in this country grows independent of the population’s health. With that realization as a backdrop, he noted the innovative strategies employed across Maryland hospitals, such as capping health care expenditures and pegging them to outcomes.

Next, a panel addressed the notion that reshaping health requires reshaping the environment in which people live. Led by Jason McLennan, CEO, International Living Future Institute, the insightful discussion addressed the impact of today’s mostly sedentary, stress-filled, indoor lifestyles negatively impact health. The panelists – including Lou Lenzi, design director, GE Appliances and Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer, Cleveland Clinic – talked about how re-designing our work and life environments can help improve our health.

Arlin Wasserman, partner at Menus of Change, examined how sustainability and improving health are inexplicably linked. Conversely, he noted the opposite, too – by sharing data explaining that the proteins that produce the most greenhouse gases are also the most detrimental to our health over time. He then lead an interesting discussion on how companies like Jamba Juice, PepsiCo and Canyon Ranch have been able to reduce the calorie counts in the food products they offer.

From food, the discourse moved to activity. Tom Farrey, executive director from the Aspen Institute, introduced a session on the importance of instilling a love of activity in children under the age of 12. The panel – featuring a scientist, former professional tennis player and professional soccer coach – provided examples of how activity at a young age, coaching techniques, and other tactics can be applied to motivating activity in children.

The three-day event’s final speaker, the Honorable Robert McDonald, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, gave a comprehensive overview of the benefits and services provided to veterans by the agency. He emphasized the innovative programs and techniques instituted by VA doctors, including implantable cardiac pacemakers, shingles vaccines, nicotine patches, and artificial limbs that operate from signals in the brain. He then looked ahead and spoke of building partnerships like the ones discussed throughout the Forum, all to improve the care and quality of life for veterans.

As the conference drew to a conclusion – wrapping up three days of presentations on new business ventures, new technologies and new strategies in treating cancer and chronic diseases – the 2015 Lake Nona Impact Forum clearly succeeded in its goal of breaking down barriers and creating ideas that will shape the future of healthcare in our nation.