Exponential Thinking Comes to Healthcare

A summary of the first (Tech)eTuesday

By Gloria Zaionz (Advanced Technologies team at Kaiser Permanente and Emerging Technologies lead at the Innovation Learning Network) and Alina Clarke (Intern at Carolinas HealthCare System)


“Exponential Technologies” is a hot topic in health care. With it comes the promise to transform the industry as we know it today into a 21st century personalized, patient-centered care continuum. As this exponential technology wave crests and head for shore, health care leaders and innovators must familiarize themselves with these technologies and how to prepare in anticipation of their impending arrival so we are ready to operationalize them.

The Innovation Learning Network and the Global Network of Health Innovation Centers realized the need to prepare for this next wave. The (Tech)eTuesday series intends to inform organizations about each exponential technology sector by providing health care context and examples for organizations ready to start their journey.

The monthly 1 hour webinar series kicked off August 8, 2017 with a panel presentation on exponential thinking in healthcare. We were joined by 3 core faculty of Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine program – Dr. Daniel Kraft, Lucien Engelen, and Dr. John Mattison, as well as the ILN’s own Gloria Zaionz to provide an overview of exponential thinking in healthcare, emerging exponential technologies impacting healthcare today, and the format of this new ILN series.

Below you will find a summary of the content or view the webinar recording:

Intro to Exponentials in healthcare: Dr. Daniel Kraft, Singularity University (Exponential Medicine Chair)

“Exponential Technology”

“ XTech”


“ XMed”

“Exponential Medicine”


Same concept, so many names.

Just what is exponential technology? Daniel Kraft of Singularity University eloquently stated: It is the opposite of linear. These technologies, over time, become exponentially faster, smaller, cheaper on a scale that is not achieveable in the same timeframe as their linear counterpart.

Exponentials refer to artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR)/ virtual reality (VR)/ mixed reality (MR), autonomous transport, genomics, robots, voice, and blockchain.

WHY should healthcare care?

Exponential thinking when applied across the health and care spectrum — wellness, prevention, diagnostics, therapy, global health, research & discovery — can revolutionize health(care). Exponential technologies bring new capabilities that will allow health care to be more proactive and responsive, and anticipate outcomes. It has the potential for health care to leapfrog into a new frontier focusing on prevention and wellness by enabling the tools needed to support healthy living.

Daniel Kraft gives examples of how exponential technologies are being put to use in these areas and describes the potential impact on health systems around the world. The key takeaway: exponential technology has the capacity to shift the current system’s provision of “sickcare” to proactive healthcare as this shift requires moving away from linear thinking and processes and instead embracing exponentiality.

Global Network of Healthcare Innovation Centers are here to help you get started (GNHIC): Lucien Engelen, Radboudumc (REshape Innovation Center)

As healthcare globalizes and exponential technologies gain steam, GNHIC was formed by a few “early adopter” health systems in North America, the EU and Asia as a community of practice for exploring exponentials in health(care). While keeping the patient impact as the focal point, GNHIC’s three activities are 1) Explore, 2) Learn, and 3) Do. Lucien Engelen describes GNHIC’s 2017 goal to “get started, try things, break things, and learn” with its wide network of founding collaborators. These are the 10 highest priority exponentials that the network is focusing on:

What do health delivery organizations need to be aware of in embarking on this journey?: Dr. John Mattison, Chief Medical Information Officer (Kaiser Permanente)

John Mattison shares real-world examples of how exponential technologies such as machine learning, telemedicine, remote monitoring, and open notes are being deployed with in a large care delivery network. Meaningful lessons learned and exceptional outcomes are highlighted within these examples. John Mattison also shares his top 5 barriers/”road blocks” from decades of pursuing exponential technology at the front lines of a large care delivery network, including:

Lesson 1: Beware of bright and shiny objects. They distract easily and take the attention of many executives.

Lesson 2: Potential friction may arise as a result of who ‘owns’ the cool stuff.

Lesson 3: Too many cooks = bloated MVP = slow adoption

Lesson 4: Lean MVP = Rapid Adoption

Lesson 5: Building and maintaining cross-skilled teams is critical key to success.

And we expanded our lexicon with this great term: “plecosystem” (multiplatform collaboration between different siloes).

ILN’s (Tech)eTuesday and collaborations: Gloria Zaionz, Innovation Learning Network (Advanced technologies)

ILN and GNHIC have several cross-over organizations within the innovation community. (Tech)eTuesday pairs these networks along with other key players in the GNHIC collaboration to explore exponential technologies in depth.

Moving forward, each installment of the (Tech)eTuesday series will take a deeper dive on the exponential technologies that are of highest priority to patients and innovation teams of the collaborating health systems: AI/predictive analytics, voice recognition, VR/AR, blockchain, robotics/bots, ‘omics, and autonomous transportation. In these sessions, panel presenters will split up providing an overview of the technology, going through real-world examples of its deployment in healthcare, profiling an emerging innovator, and discussing future implications.

How to get involved?

Small step: continue to listen in on the upcoming webinars – see the list on the Events page here.

Medium step: Get immersed in 3 days of full contact exponential thinking at the next Singularity University Exponential Medicine conference November 6-9 in San Diego. The 3 fellows above will be featured Faculty.

Bigger step: Join the GNHIC (info@gnhic.com) as a collaborator and begin your journey with peers from around the world!

Next (Tech)eTuesday Webinar

Tuesday, 12 September at 9 am PST. The topic will be virtual reality! More information here.


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