Key Takeaways from the Yale Digital Medicine Symposium

May 9, 2019 - by Jason Prignoli

A couple of weeks ago in April, on a rainy spring Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the Yale Digital Health Symposium in New Haven, Connecticut. It was well-attended, graciously hosted, and unlike the gloomy weather outside, ended up turning into a lovely afternoon of networking and learning from some most innovative minds in digital health today.

Topics covered were diverse, from AI, cognition, and mental health to new disruptive concepts like “digital pharmacies.” Some of the highlights include Dr. Walter de Brouwer, CEO of, all the way from Palo Alto, CA, who gave a discourse on the future of individualized medical data and the power of its potential applications. He called for a wide, yet safe, democratization of patient data, and explained how advanced-AI techniques could capture insights from this data and accelerate the development of new cures and research of obscure diseases.

Then Marc Appel, head of Orange Grove Bio, Jon Lanznar, VP of Client Services at Truveris, and David Light, CEO of Valisure delivered a panel about the current state of the pharmacy industry and the disruption caused by the host of new “digital pharmacies” gaining traction across the country. The acquisition of PillPack by Amazon, the launch of Capsure in NYC as well as the gigantic merger of CVS and Aetna were all discussed.  Between the strategic moves made by larger players, the regulation, and the disruption already happening, this will be a fascinating industry to follow in the near future.

Finally, a panel composed of Eddie Martucci, CEO of Akili Interactive, Lynn Hamilton, COO of Talkspace, Dr. John Whang, Head of Cardio & Metabolism at J&J, and Dr. Scooter Plowman, Medical Director at Proteus delivered a wonderful discussion about the future of digital medicine and therapeutics. Eddie is building a company that is developing video games that both measure and improve cognitive health. Lynn runs an organization that is redefining the way we seek and receive mental therapy. Dr. Whang was the lead on the partnership between J&J and Apple Health that resulted in the widely acknowledged, year-long study of AFib using the Apple Watch. Finally, Dr. Plowman serves as the medical advisor of a company that is at the forefront of developing a scalable, commercially useable “smart” pill.

Our main takeaway was that digital health and digital therapeutics have the potential to disrupt all aspects of the healthcare value chain and it will be important for pharma to understand and shape the digital landscape and implications for their brands and customers.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post around the value models pharma currently leverages to drive commercial impact through digital health.

Unfortunately, this does not cover all the wonderful speakers who generously shared their time, and knowledge, with the audience that afternoon. We would like to thank them, and everyone mentioned above as well, for the time they shared with us. And a big thanks to Dr. Greg Licholai at the Yale School of Management and his staff for hosting such a wonderful event. We will be looking forward to the next one.

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