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Pull up a chair

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There’s a seat at the table for you.

Welcome to this week's LEAP:IN newsletter. Each week, we unpack leader's powerful quotes and decipher the tech landscape. With exclusive content from some of the world's leading experts in AI, robotics, space, edutech, climate tech and more, read on to discover this week's insights and subscribe to receive weekly updates direct to your inbox.

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This week we’re quoting…

Alaa Abdulaal (VP of Strategy and Governance at Digital Cooperation Organisation)

What Abdulaal said:

“The efficient way to implement any policy is to have that hand-in-hand with the consumer, with the private sector, with the public sector, with all of us on the same table.” 

Hand-in-hand makes sense

Creating policies with contributions from everyone involved (including all of the people those policies might affect) makes sense. But it’s certainly not easy. 

Why? 

Because getting all those people at the same table means all of them have to be willing to collaborate, and all of them have to be willing to not get exactly what they want. 

In 2019 the OECD outlined some of the major challenges to consumer policy in the digital age. Among them was the issue of making policy adaptable as technology continues to change so rapidly, and also the problem of cooperation across borders and between companies

For policy to be developed collaboratively, those involved need to shift focus away from competition, and towards the collective good – both nationally (more cooperation and less competition between companies) and internationally (more cooperation and less competition between governments). 

It’s hard to agree on things

Recent policy developments serve as proof that it’s difficult for everyone to agree on…well, anything. 

For example: 

  • The UK’s Online Safety Bill, set out in 2021, came under scrutiny in relation to compliance and enforceability. Some people say it doesn’t go far enough, but others say it risks restricting fundamental human freedoms (like the freedom of speech).
  • In India, new 2021 IT Rules have been labelled ‘grossly unconstitutional’ – for increasing censorship and reducing user privacy.
  • Also in 2021, the European Commission published two hefty new legislative initiatives: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. Both acts were approved just now, in July 2022 – but there are big hurdles to overcome before the regulations included will actually be implemented effectively: “we can expect a highly politicised co-regulatory model of enforcement with an unclear role of government agencies, which could create real problems,” said Christoph Schmon (International Policy Director at Electronic Frontier Foundation). 

Pull up a chair

Challenges aside (sounds so easy when we put it like that, doesn’t it?) thought leaders at LEAP were in agreement that collaboration – and by extension, compromise – will be essential to future policy.

So we encourage you (yes, you!) to pull up a chair and take every opportunity to be involved in digital policy development. Respond to those surveys, sign those petitions, and make your voice heard. 

And…

Marwan Al Balawi (Senior Digital Health Director at Lean Business Services)

What Al Balawi said…

“We saw a lot of futuristic technologies at LEAP. I just want you to imagine how this will impact the healthcare system.” 

What kind of tech is changing healthcare right now? 

As well as telehealth tools that bring health services into digital spaces, we’re seeing a significant rise in emerging health tech systems that could have a huge impact on our future wellness. 

Such as…

  • VR and XR is changing the way doctors learn and practise surgeries. Richard Vincent spoke about it at #LEAP22 – and we wrote a blog post about it, here.
  • mRNA technology has been in the public eye lately because of its role in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. But mRNA vaccines can protect populations against more than just one virus; high efficacy, speed of development, and low production costs mean these vaccines (which are developed through messenger ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded RNA molecule that carries genetic information) have the potential to change the way we manage dangerous illnesses worldwide.
  • Neuralink, a new neurotechnology under development by Elon Musk, is a futuristic device that would be embedded in the human brain. There, it would record brain activity that could be analysed by researchers and used to stimulate other, targeted brain activity – with hopes that it might be used to cure diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But Neuralink is a long way from being operational on humans, and sceptics suggest the device won’t be capable of the kind of deep brain stimulation Musk claims.
  • AI is fast becoming a key tool in the early detection of disease, and in confirming accurate diagnoses. The use of AI in breast cancer care, for example, is speeding up the review of mammograms by 30X – with 99% accuracy.
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats – also known as CRISPR – is a new, advanced gene-editing tech that leverages immune system mechanisms to eradicate infected DNA strands. Tech like this has the potential to cut out the genes responsible for some of the most serious diseases we deal with, including cancer and HIV; along with rare, complex diseases like Cystic Fibrosis

Do doctors want more tech?

It goes without saying that the tech industry loves tech. But what about doctors? Do the people with the hands-on responsibility for caring for patients actually want new technologies?

In 2020, a survey by the American Medical Association uncovered a rise in the adoption of new tech by doctors. Almost 9 in 10 physicians saw an advantage in using digital health tools, and the study found increased use of seven key areas of tech (including remote monitoring, clinical decision-making, and patient engagement), compared to a previous survey from 2016.

A 2018 study in Germany, published in the journal JMIR Research Protocols, examined the acceptance and resistance of new tech in medicine. The researchers found that the adoption of new tech in healthcare settings was dependent largely on individual opinions

Some medical professionals thought that:

  • Tech would interfere with their ability to make independent diagnoses
  • Tech would disrupt their relationship with patients
  • Tech was a way for management to exercise more control

In contrast, others welcomed new tech because it gave them more opportunities to interact with patients and carers. It’s all a matter of perspective, basically. 

Generally speaking, the study found that patients were more welcoming of new tech than medical professionals – they embraced the chance to have more autonomy in choosing their healthcare options. 

Health tech is coming

New health tech won’t remain the domain of select, high-budget private hospitals. It’s developing fast, and it will change the way medical practitioners work. And it’ll change the way patients work, too – as more and more of us will have access to accurate health information via our mobile devices. 

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