Daniel Kraft

Podcast: Daniel Kraft MD, Physician/Scientist and Innovator

April 19, 2021
VectorCare Team

Daniel Kraft is a Stanford and Harvard trained physician-scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, and innovator and is serving as the Chair of the XPRIZE PANDEMIC ALLIANCE TASK FORCE.  With over 25 years of experience in clinical practice, biomedical research and healthcare innovation, Kraft has chaired the Medicine for SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY  since its inception in 2008, and is founder and chair of EXPONENTIAL MEDICINE, a program that explores convergent, rapidly developing technologies and their potential in biomedicine and healthcare. Following undergraduate degrees from Brown University and medical school at Stanford, Daniel was Board Certified in both Internal Medicine & Pediatrics after completing a Harvard residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital & Boston Children's Hospital, and fellowships in hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Stanford. Kraft also founded Digital Health, is on the board of Healthy.io, founded IntelliMedicine, and more.

He is often called upon to speak to the future of health, medicine and technology and has given 5 TED AND TEDMED TALKS. Kraft recently gave a TEDTalk on the future of medicine as catalyzed by COVID-19, which you can view on his WEBSITE.

Kraft spoke to us this week on the future of healthcare technology, how to connect healthcare information silos, how our world will change post-pandemic, and more.

Below are a couple highlights from our interview, but be sure to listen and subscribe to The Patient's Journey podcast, linked at the bottom of the page.


So, Daniel, people refer to you as a technologist and a futurist. Could you tell us a little bit about what that means?

Actually, I really don't call myself a futurist. I'm more of a realist and I strive to help people think about what's possible in healthcare settings, catalyzing better health and medicine for each of us and around the planet. So if you want to call that a futurist. There's so many pain points across health care that we probably all experience: whether it's getting your medications refilled, scheduling an appointment, or getting your COVID vaccine and we need to think differently about how we can approach those challenges.

One lens that I try to adopt is leveraging the convergence of different technologies from mobile and A.I. and robotics and 3D printing and nanotech and genomics change and personal genomics, etc. And how might this convergence super converge to enable us to think about technologies differently and to bring that future to us faster? Because the future is coming faster than we think, particularly in healthcare.

I look at the American healthcare system today and there's a lot of frustration. While in many ways we have cutting-edge technology and solutions, healthcare can also be very much stuck in old ways. There’s still a large dependence on paper and fax machines. How do we help the industry move away from outdated technology?

We’re in 2021 and still using fax machines. I even had a cardiac study done last year at Stanford, where the only way I could get my data was through a CD-ROM disk– I don’t even have a CD-ROM player! Part of the challenge with this old tech in health systems is that these systems are often legacy-based and constrained by outdated regulatory and reimbursement models. For example: HIPAA laws. They’re essentially well-meaning, but these laws were written before the digital age, so they often require fax-based signatures or other outdated requirements that aren’t in sync with our super-connected 5G age. We have a lot of old systems with misaligned incentives, and payment models that reward sick care rather than population health. So not only do we need to unlock the technology piece, but also the workflows, regulations, and incentives to empower providers to use new technology.

Can you talk a little bit about remote patient monitoring and how that might look in the future?

Sure. We’re already experiencing the Uber-ization of healthcare, particularly in moving from the hospital to home. A big piece of that is remote patient monitoring. We still have COVID with us in 2021, but now you could have a connected pulse oximeter that picks up your heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and more through an app on your smartphone. It’s all about connecting the dots of patient care and removing friction. You can now make an appointment with your doctor, see labs, have a follow-up appointment, and more through telehealth tools. It’s still a far-from-perfect system, but the big picture is that things are shifting and care is being provided outside of the four walls of a hospital.

COVID is unlike anything most of us have ever experienced or imagined. What do you see our system and the world at large looking like post-COVID?

I think the mental health element is huge. We’ll start to see the impacts of that later: whether it’s folks who’ve been out of work and have different levels of stress, or stuck at home with kids, or of course folks who have been sick themselves or had to deal with the stress of losing friends or loved ones. Mental health has always been a bit challenging for our healthcare system to address: it’s scattered and very inequitable. We’re starting to see new healthcare platforms now that offer chatbots to vent to, telepsychiatry, mental-health based social platforms, and more. These are all opportunities for us to spend more time thinking about the mental health equation, which impacts so many diseases. So we’re entering an age of digitization of mental health, where so many things can become biomarkers for mental health: how you type on your smartphone, your voice, gait, heart rate variability, and more. We can start to use these digital breadcrumbs in a way to engage proactively and help people stay connected to mental healthcare.

‎The Patient's Journey on Apple Podcasts

‎Health & Fitness · 2021

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