Highlights from the Digital Health Show, Sydney 2016

First published April 19, 2016


The Digital Health Show Conference and Expo at Sydney showcased a broad range of international digital health ideas. Presenters from medical and non-medical backgrounds shared their innovations via onstage panels and roundtable discussions. 

As Elaine Saunders of Blamey Saunders said, “Today, digital health is much more than reading off the internet or doing Telehealth.” Creating meaning through innovation, and marrying this with a viable product, generates synergy between patients’ and practitioners’ best interests.

Some themes that emerged from the Conference: 

  1. Digital health should unify shared goals for both practitioners and patients. Thomas Goetz (USA), former executive editor of Wired magazine, spoke of the difference between Passive Data (eg. phone sensors for pedometers), and Active Data (voluntarily entering your weight after stepping on a scale)  in health. “Active data could potentially be more meaningful,” he said. His startup, Iodine, a search engine for side-effects of prescription medications, utilises active data through its Start app. Start lets users enter improvements and side-effects they experience from their antidepressants, generating a flowsheet over time that can be shared with their doctor. 


2. Digital health can improve patient compliance and education by tracking goals and milestones on apps. This personalises each patient’s therapy; and potentially improves patient outcomes, speed to recovery, and reduces relapse rates. ImAblegamifies stroke rehabilitation via smart device apps, making participants 16 times more productive; DorsaVi’s ViMove wearable sensortracks lumbar muscle movement and posture to aid rehabilitation and avoid workplace injury; TrackActive’s exercise prescription app holds an exercise database so users can recall their prescribed exercises by video or saved instructions rather than on loose paper. Clinicians appreciate the integration of these apps and devices into their workspaces, improving interactivity between clinician and patient even outside of appointments.


3. Novel technologies can be integrated smoothly into user-friendly devices. Quanticare’s Footprintsoptical sensor can be attached to walking frames to analyse a person’s gait; ResApp uses the speech recognition technology behind Siri to diagnose respiratory infection via cough; Respirio uses nanotechnology to detect the presence of Influenza A and B in twenty minutes. Quanticare was founded by a physiotherapist, and Respirio by an Emergency Department physician, showing how inspiration from the frontlines of healthcare can inspire creativity.

4. Improving workflow. More innovation and more data can create more headaches for clinicians and workplaces struggling to manage the deluge of data. Medtasker aims to solve these problems by providing a secure platform for clinician communications at hospitals, meaning that clinicians will be able to locate the patient accurately, and triage pending tasks according to urgency.

5. Integrating convenience for patients and practitioners. Dr Noel Duncan of SiSU Wellness demonstrated SiSU’s health check computer station, which has previously been positioned at Crown Casino and Priceline pharmacies. Performing blood pressure, weight, BMI and heart rate checks via ultrasonic height scanning and bioelectrical impedance, it is partnering with the Stroke Foundation to conduct free blood pressure checks at Priceline pharmacies nationwide this month.  Dr Alan Greene (USA), Paediatrician, TED speaker and Scanadu founder, began his Australian visit by diagnosing an ear infection 7000 miles away in the States via telemedicine. He estimates that 90% of his interactions with patients occur outside his office. Although the American systems of telehealth differ to Australian models, Dr Greene’s talk painted an ideal picture of where digital health is heading for patients’ and practitioners’ benefits.

Overall, the DHS was an enjoyable experience, and for a newbie to the startup world, it gave a great overview of companies and founders who are realising their visions of creating a better world through digital health. It also gave me a better idea of the workings of startups and the stages that health startups go through to be approved in Australia and the US, such as prototyping; proof of concept clinical studies; and building a great team.

Other clinicians who attended similarly had a positive experience.

Dr Akshat Saxena from CancerAid said that “it was a nice mix of professionals, and a good place to link up and see what’s going on around Digital Health.” 

Dr Andrew Yap from Medtasker agreed that “it was a great opportunity to showcase Medtasker with other emerging healthcare companies. We made some great contacts and attendees were really enthusiastic about how Medtasker could improve patient safety and hospital efficiency. We want to thank the Digital Health Show organisers for all their efforts and we’d be keen to attend again next year.”

Dr Nelson Lau, GP who attended the DHS for the first time, felt that “it was a really informative event. The main talks gave an interesting overview on some of the potential pathways that digital health will branch out to in the future, while the roundtable sessions were a great opportunity to network with peers and have more informal discussions on collaboration possibilities. The exhibition hall was an interesting place to discover and play with emerging new technologies and platforms and it’s exciting to be at the forefront of the oncoming wave that will be sweeping over healthcare as we know it.

It was impressive to see so much time devoted to Geriatrics and devices for the ageing population, which we’ve featured in a separate post here.

The Medical Startup attended the Digital Health Show with a courtesy pass.

Did you also attend the Digital Health Show? Got any comments? Leave them below. Subscribe to our mailing list for future post updates.