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The Biggest, Boldest Moments at Our Brainstorm Health Conference

Nov 09, 2016

Big things are happening in your medicine cabinet. Perhaps you haven’t noticed it yet, but technology is changing virtually every aspect of the health care continuum—from how we detect and diagnose disease to how and where we deliver care to the notion of what it means to be well in the first place. You can thank advances across an enormous spectrum of new tech—deep learning, big-data analytics, wearable sensors, hyperconnectivity, 3D printing, gene editing, and much more—for that shake-up and the rapidly changing state of America’s $3 trillion health care sector. To track this extraordinary transformation, Fortune launched Brainstorm Health Daily, a newsletter, and a conference that kicked off in San Diego, Nov. 1–2. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite moments from the event. See all of our coverage of the conference here.

Virtual Reality

Cool trips, without pain

Entrepreneur Arianna Huffington took a trip inside virtual reality and learned how the immersive tech can help ease physical pain. H oward Rose, CEO of DeepStream VR, had Huffington place her left hand into an ice bucket; the minute-long bath proved a painful experience. But when she dipped her hand again in the chilly water, this time donning a VR headset and playing a game, she barely felt any discomfort. “That was amazing,” Huffington said. —Jonathan Vanian

Contagions

GlaxoSmithKline’s chairman of vaccines, ­ Moncef Slaoui, compared developing a new vaccine to fight pathogens like Ebola and Zika in the face of an already occurring outbreak to buying car insurance in the midst of an accident: It’s just too late. —Katie Fehrenbacher

Meditation

“Mentally, ask the question: ‘Who am I?’ ” —Deepak Chopra, cofounder of the Chopra Center, guiding conference attendees through a 20-minute meditation. Such periods of mindfulness have been found to change gene expression and offer many health benefits, he said.

Aging Better

Nobel Prize–winning scientist and Salk Institute president Elizabeth Blackburn schooled the crowd on her life’s work: telomeres and what those chromosome-capping structures tell us about aging. Episodes of long-term stress are not good for them— or us. —Erika Fry

Giving Well

Hacking cancer, and philanthropy

Earlier this year, with his own $250 million, Napster cofounder and first Facebook president Sean Parker launched the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. His goal is to hack cancer—but even before he had opened his center’s doors he had, in signature ­fashion, disrupted the competitive field, ­enlisting six of the nation’s leading cancer hospitals in his effort. Parker ­represents a new breed of philanthropists. Tech billionaires often approach ­problems with a “hacker phenotype,” he said; they don’t just want to throw money at a cause—they want to ­“intellectually engage.” So far, it seems the model is working. —Erika Fry

Drug Insanity

The cost of a new drug per year of added life has surged fivefold in the past two decades, noted ­Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Peter Bach. Government regulation might do more to rein in prices than free-market forces have, but it could mean reduced patient choice and other ­negative side effects . —Jen Wieczner

Remote Medicine

An ultrasound for the far-flung

At eight months pregnant with my ­second child, I’m used to sitting for ultrasounds at a hospital, where a technician uses a $250,000 machine to check the health of my baby. Most people in the world aren’t that lucky. New medtech is changing that, however. At Brainstorm Health, I got a belly-eye view of a device that could bring such peace of mind to women in the poorest and most remote regions: a mobile ultrasound machine, created by Qualcomm and Trice Imaging, that can send scans to an iPad-like unit that fits into the palm of a technician’s hand. What’s more, it can reduce the cost of an ultrasound from $80 to $2 per patient. —Leena Rao

Neurology

“The idea is, You could prescribe six weeks of iPad play and be able to monitor that remotely.” —Adam Gazzaley, professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco and founding director of Neuroscape Lab, which is developing videogames to treat ADHD, depression, and traumatic brain injuries.

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