Yesterday, we heard all about autonomous cars and sustainable mobility from Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors.

Autos, TVs, and telecomms are the usual fare of the big stage speeches at the annual big show of consumer electronics.

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of CTA, introduced today’s CES keynote speaker, Robert Ford, as the “first-ever keynote speaker from health care” at CES, calling out the fact that Abbott’s Freestyle Libre System garnered one of CES 2022’s Innovation Awards.

Ford is the Chairman and CEO of Abbott, one of the largest global life sciences companies. Ford let us know up-front that he could not be more proud of the stories he was about to share with us…and I will do my best to capture some of his remarks with you here in Health Populi so you can be inspired, as well.

The unifying theme of Ford’s stories was “human-powered health,” the convergence of health and technology to empower human lives, Ford explained.

In an introductory video, actor Lawrence Fishburne said, “Human dignity pumps no blood,  moves no muscles,” Ford continued.

“We all deserve to walk through this life with our heads held high,” Fishburne asserted.

He continued, envisioning a “future where we unlock health to be the people we were born to be…to realize our individual potential.”

In the stories that Ford then went on to tell, we were inspired by examples of people who indeed exemplified human-powered health to realize potential and promise of full lives.

As Ford simply put it, to use technology to ensure longer lives are lived to the fullest.

As the image projected behind Ford in the first photo says, “Unlocking the possibility of YOU.”

Underpinning that health/care moonshot is a future that will bring people and their loved ones care that’s “more personal and more precise,” Ford described, and gives people more convenience and control, expanding access to care…with the power to digitize, decentralize, and democratize health care, he said.

“We can give everyone their best chance to live a fuller healthier life,” Ford noted.

The first great example of living that fuller life was brought to real-life by the dynamic Sherri Shepherd, once co-host on The View and diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Shepherd explained how the Freestyle Libre enabled her to begin tracking her data, enabling her to get and stay healthy, vibrant, and engaged. She set the tone for the continued story-inspiration delivered by Tyrone Morris.

Morris is shown here, “proud father” as his descriptor shows in the snapshot of him entering the stage to join Ford.

“If you found out you had six months to live, what would you do?” Ford asked, referring to Morris’s diagnosis of heart failure. Tyrone explained his story in a video, feeling like his heart dropped out of his chest while in a grocery store. That was in 2012, when Tyrone was given the prognosis of six months due to his heart being too weak to pump blood to the rest of his body.

His first thoughts were for his kids; his daughter Tyronee wanted her Dad to walk her down the aisle.

Enter Abbott.

While Morris waited for a new heart to be transplanted, Abbott equipped him with a suite of implants along with a heart pump to keep that loving heart beating.

Now, he has a CardioMEMS heart failure system that monitors his heart wherever he goes.

Oh, and a new heart implanted one year ago.

“When I got introduced to Abbott” was the “best thing in my life…a second chance in life,” Morris shared.

The rest of the story: he’s still barbequing, playing basketball, bowling, and “doing whatever I want to do,” Morris told us. “Now I’m showing other patients the way,” Morris said, sharing his experience with other patients dealing with heart failure.

Just as Morris is living out his full potential with the benefit of connected health devices, Dr. Leslie Saxon came to the stage to discuss her pioneering work of the past two decades leading University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing.

“Health is the most important story we have to tell,” Dr. Saxon emphasized, recognizing that technologies have the power to make health care more personal, not less.

How that can happen, Dr. Saxon explained, is that techs have the power to gather personalized data with the promise of offering everyone on earth the power to understand and manage health in real-time, even for the most life- threatening conditions.

Dr. Saxon’s research at USC has shown that an implantable defibrillator connected to the Internet can improve survival, continuously monitoring data and giving the earliest warning of a serious event. At the same time, this can benefit the health care system because providers can focus their scarce clinical time more efficiently with patients who need face-to-face time, allowing clinicians to scale and offer services to, literally, “everyone in the world,” Dr. Saxon believes.

This is not “health care,” Dr. Saxon described. It’s “life care.”

Connected health devices help health care extend beyond the hospital’s walls, Dr. Saxon noted.

That concept segued to Dr. Fiona Gupta of Mount Sinai Hospital, who has been an early adopter and innovator using neuromodulation with patients deal in with movement issues such as Parkinson’s Disease.

Dr. Gupta discussed neuromodulation, which uses weak pulses of electricity to modulate brain function to help restore movement in the body. In her virtual clinic, the Neurosphere, Dr. Gupta manages the first telehealth operation of its kind in the U.S. connecting with patients who might live 2 miles from her site or 200 miles away, as she described. “This strengthens (patients’) relationship with doctors extending care beyond clinic walls,” she has found, leveraging the convenience and flexibility of remote care to provide the best therapy possible.

Dr. Gupta then showed a video featuring her and her patient, Dr. Randolph (Randy) Tutt, who happens to be a dentist under her care. Dr. Gupta demonstrated the use of ncuromodulation with her patient, who suffers from tremors which were mitigated — from afar, with the patient using a mobile app on his phone linked to Dr. Gupta’s control of the system from her end of the clinical encounter.

It’s very powerful, Dr. Gupta explained, for a physician to have this sort of virtual meet-up with a patient, above to virtually walk around the patient’s home with him — learning what activities they like to do, from interacting with pets to playing the piano, navigating the kitchen and so on.

This allows Dr. Gupta to personalize deep brain stimulation and help people to keep doing the things they love in life, she said.

“This is a life changer for patients and loved ones.”

She closed her segment sharing a medical school maxim she leans on: “If you lose hope all is lost.”

Neuromodulation and the neurosphere clinic is a chance to give hope back, she has found.

Ford returned to the stage to talk about how better connectivity, remote monitoring and better testing can improve health care around the globe — literally.

Ford set the context for this story noting that “70% of medical decisions are a result of diagnostic tests,”

The challenge is how to decentralize testing: how to get the right test in the right place at the right time.

In our current pandemic mode, Abbott is Exhibit A: the source of the consumer-facing Binax test for COVID-19.

Abbott collaborates in a partnership with United Airlines, eMed, Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to provide a streamlined testing-and-travel hygienic experience for patients ticketed to fly on United.

[For more on that collaboration, please see my blog post which describes the program which launched in June 2020].

The testing component is enabled and made accessible to the traveler/consumer/patient through United Airlines “Travel Ready” portal which is an on-ramp to the traveler to access the COVID-19 test and upload key documents for overseas travel, from passport information to vaccine status and COVID test results.

FYI, United Airlines was the first to meet CDC requirements with the first FDA-authorized virtually guided COVID-19 test.

Partner eMed was launched by Dr. Patrice Harris, the company co-founder and CEO (prior to this post, Dr. Harris was President of the American Medical Association). Practically speaking, eMed is a kind of telehealth platform: when the consumer/patient conducts the DTC test, an eMed “telehealth proctor” ensures quality of the interaction to then ensure quality of outcome and result. In her words, eMed enables rapid tests in three ways: “tests to know, tests to go, and tests to treat,” channeling patients to therapeutics if that is the next step on their clinical journey.

“Rapid treatment is the key to rapid recovery,” is Dr. Harris’s mantra. Those rapid tests can be for COVID-19, flu, strep, and UTIs in the current portfolio of eMed services.

Following stories about gut microbiome and optimizing nutrition for performance, Ford left us with a final announcement about Lingo.

Building on Abbott’s expertise developed through mass use of Freestyle Libre for people managing diabetes, the company is building out that platform with the evidence emanating from some 3.5 million users, “taking it to the next level….translating a wide range of biometric signals,” Ford explained. These include glucose, ketose, lactate, and alcohol — all important components for metabolic health.

Lingo will measure these biomarkers for a “family of products,” as Ford coined the launch. For example, a consumer may adopt a Keto foodstyle, moving from burning sugar to burning fat. How does she know she is actually burning fat?

Lingo will address that with real-time feedback that ascertains the patient is in ketosis.

Ford described this as a new addition to sports biowearables extending beyond athletes to mainstream people.

“It’s amazing what our bodies can tell us,” Ford said. “Lingo can help us understand what our bodies really need.”

We must all “stay tuned” to Abbott’s announcements later in 2022 to learn where and when we’ll be able to find Lingo….

In the meantime, he brought us back to where we started: the fundamental promise of technology allowing us to live a better life.

Appropriately, Ford left us with a message in his native Portuguese, wishing us all a “New Year, New Life.”

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