Health and Legal Experts from Across Disciplines Debate the Potential Impacts of Digital Health Technology During the Third Annual UN Digital Health Symposium
Faculty , Featured Events | Oct 03, 2023 | Gabelli School of Business
Part of the 78th UN General Assembly, “The Digital Health Innovation Divide,” was hosted by Fordham‘s Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center and the Gabelli School of Business in partnership with the United Nations Digital Health Task Force
On September 25, thought leaders representing professions across the spectrum of the digital healthcare landscape came together to discuss shared and competing interests and opportunities, highlighting the most profound and urgent issues facing public and private health organizations in countries around the world. During this unique exchange, which was designed as a role-play exercise, panelists were presented with a real-world scenario: a hypothetical at-home medical monitoring device, designed and developed by a university, has the potential to revolutionize early cancer prevention and treatment in those at greatest risk. The exercise posed one of the most pressing questions of our time: What needs to be considered when promising digital health technologies are faced with competing public policy and private sector interests? How can we determine which new technologies will help improve digital health inequity and access to better healthcare for all? Should privacy issues be considered against the need for better public data to improve health outcomes? Is it possible to reconcile the sometimes-conflicting interests of profitability and the urgent call for higher standards of healthcare in developing countries?
Rather than sharing individual presentations, the panelists deliberated in real time, responding as the conversation developed to include issues of access, privacy, intellectual property, legislation, governmental regulation, and the role of investors, profitability and business. Moderated by Chinmayi Sharma, J.D., associate professor of law at Fordham University, the panel presented the many facets of a complicated matrix of views, interests, and risks, emphasizing the challenges ahead and making recommendations for ways to work collaboratively towards the third United Nations Sustainable Development goal: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
James Hastings, J.D., counsel at Rothwell Figg, NY, served as the convener of the group, and provided an overview of the panelists, their impressive credentials, and the exercise in which they would participate.
Falguni Sen, Ph.D., director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center at Fordham University, and professor of strategy and statistics at the Gabelli School, explained the importance of determining the overall value of emerging technologies, while best serving the people who will benefit most from it around the world. He noted, “Bringing together stakeholders for an in-depth dialogue focused on working towards solutions will help us make a meaningful contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goal for health. We also hope that attendees will be able to view the issue of digital health technology with a wider perspective and consider how we can respond to challenges that lay ahead.”
Each panelist shared their specific viewpoints and expertise as they answered a variety of questions that sparked a lively and passionate debate about how we can move forward in the real world to harness and apply new technology for good, while simultaneously addressing potential risks and keeping the wider perspective in view in order to work towards a goal of providing actionable guidance.
Many topics were covered throughout the event, but a few key subjects emerged. Carl Baranowski, J.D., vice president and chief legal officer at the University of Texas at Tyler initiated the discussion by posing questions about the potential viability and value of patents, and the role of faculty members and grants in the research and development process for new technologies. Jenny Colgate, J.D., partner at Rothwell Figg, explained the short- and long-term impacts of intellectual property (IP) law, privacy, and data protection, elucidating the challenges associated with protecting IP and collecting and using data—today and in the future—for numerous purposes, especially as the sophistication of technology advances. One particularly relevant issue she raised was the importance of scrutinizing the license of any open-source software used, as potential restrictions or stipulations could compromise the use of data or complicate the ability to obtain a patent. Hannah Cooper, CEO and co-founder of Cooper/Smith, talked about the need to assess sustainability and affordability of new technology, while Alejandro Lopez Osornio, M.D. of SNOMED International and senior consultant in digital health at CIIPS in Argentina, discussed the issues facing governments who are poised to adopt and implement new technologies into existing healthcare systems. Michael Harvey, information and privacy commissioner for Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada presented the barriers and opportunities of allowing patients access to their own health data and how essential it is to create a relationship of trust as an institution. Darshana Zaveri, founder and managing partner at Catalyst Health Ventures, stressed the importance of driving innovation in a commercial setting to ensure the pipeline of ideas stays full and continues to engage the brightest minds in the field.
Written by: Michelle Miller, Associate Director of Communications, Fordham University Gabelli School of Business