Digital Health, Digital Wealth

Interface 2013 | BCBusiness
Michael Bidu and Heiko Decosas, Communications and Information Officer at CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network.

Doctors, developers and investors talk healthcare innovation, design and yoga 

Medical conferences aren’t what they used to be. Michael Fergusson, the dreadlocked CEO of Ayogo Games, which develops social games to help patients deal with diabetes and obesity, amongst other conditions, wouldn’t have imagined himself headlining a healthcare conference ten years ago.
“There are many people coming from outside healthcare looking to introduce new approaches and new technologies,” says Fergusson.
More globalized and focused on preventative approaches to healthcare, Interface Summit 2013 kicked off Wednesday with a roster of speakers focusing on innovation in healthcare and the role of technology and design in the industry.
The three-day international digital health conference, which includes a marketplace and a venture investment forum, with investors from China, the U.S. and Canada, will also focus on market access and investment opportunities in the sector.
The conference split its main events over two days: the first focused on markets for healthcare tech and investment, and the second on the future of health. The second day featured local innovations like Readiband, a watch that monitors sleeping patterns, and Recon Jet, hi-tech eyewear that got a $4-million investment last month from Intel Capital.
The list of speakers included Graham Whitmarsh, former deputy minister at the BC Ministry of Health and the province’s healthcare czar from 2011 to 2013; Ryan Wilson, CEO of Medeo, a startup endorsed by B.C.’s medical association that connects patients and doctors via online, video checkups; and Terry McBride, owner of YYoga, who talked about his company’s efforts in the wellness space.
Organized by Michael Bidu, the founder of Sanotron, a Vancouver-based accelerator that supports startups in the digital health sector, and founding president of DigiBC, Canada’s largest wireless and digital media association, the conference focuses on issues not often discussed in a field dominated by hospitals, insurance companies and Big Pharma.
“We’re trying to break the silos,” says Bidu, focusing on topics like design and wearable technology. “Design is a massive challenge in health. We want to know how we can create a better patient experience,” says Bidu.
“We’re in a space where we can’t just keep doing what we’re doing,” says Fergusson, “the problems are enormous.”