From #DOCSF17: Dr. Stefano Bini, founder & visionary of the Digital Orthopaedics Conference, shares his inspiration for the conference, why he focused on the digital space, his dream app, and what we can expect next year at #DOCSF18.


A transcription of the entire interview is below:

Breanna Cunningham: Hi there, Bre Cunningham here with the Dr. Stefano Bini, who is the person that is the mastermind behind this event. As we wrap up this day, I know that me personally, I just learned so much. I still have energy, even though the conference started so early and we just flew in. This was an epic conference. The talent that you had recruited, the speakers, the level of their expertise was inspiring. I just have so much I want to talk with you about. First things first, what was your vision for this conference? What gave you the energy and the vision to make this come to life?

Dr. Stefano Bini: Well, I’ll tell you, it really came from an interest of mine to get more engaged in the digital health revolution, if you will. I had done some start up work in the late 90’s and then gotten back into healthcare and orthopedics and management of that world, but the last five years or so, being more engaged with the digital health community and learning about all the amazing things they are doing at the level of whether digital technology, sensors, motors, whatever, you name it, it’s amazing to me. Yet at the same time, I might fly from one of those conferences to a clinical health conference, like the American Academy meeting. I just didn’t see the two worlds intersect, so I see it as kind of a Ven Diagram. is it possible to bring these two worlds together and give them a format where we could have a conversation.

Then the other question, though, was, who is going to be the audience for that event? Do you do a massive 5,000+ people special event with all the docs and is a more educational event or is it more an attempt to drive, actually, change … I hate to use that word but catalyze is really well, it comes to mind. The catalyst in a chemical reaction is that element that makes the whole thing happen, it makes the reaction occur, the catalyst makes it go faster. I thought, why don’t we bring those two worlds together. I did a fair amount of asking, so I went to a lot of the manufacturers, how would you like that to happen? I went to the startups, what would you like it to look like? If you were to come, what would draw you there? That’s that sort of needs assessment that took me a few months.

What came out is, look, we want to be in a roughly small setting, so there’s a lot of conversation, and a lot of exposure. We want the people in the room to be curated, be folks that have something to say and have an opportunity to make a difference, leaders in the change. Those are the structure, that will be a relatively small event, that it will be people we know represent the entire ecosystem of the orthopedic world, and that don’t otherwise have an opportunity to speak to each other, whether it’s the tech companies, or the healthcare systems, or the insurers, or the manufacturers, bring together and then the deal is, let’s get down to practicality.

Let’s not talk about future visions. There’s some really exceptional conferences, like Exponential Medicine, that can give you what’s-

Cunningham: The vision.

Bini: … the vision. Let’s make it practical. Let’s get down to problems that we can solve. Let’s go deep. Let’s go from high level, the level setting sections where we talk about the big picture, what are our problems, have the medical people do that. Have the tech people tell us, okay these are the technological solutions we have available to solve your problems. Let’s take it down into case studies, business school concept. Don’t tell me for an hour how wonderful your software is, or the details of the app. Tell us about how you implement it, tell us about what happened when you deployed it, and what you learned from it. You did a fantastic session on that, actually, I was there and really enjoyed listening to it.

If you’ve come to this event and you’re looking at one of those two areas, you’ve heard about the technology, you’ve heard about the software, you’ve heard about the issues others have had to deal with to manage it. So when you go back to your institution, you say look, these are the things we have to do to make this work. Then we catch all that with some framing around change management techniques and also about the political infrastructure happening now, the changes that are happening in the healthcare environment that may drive the way we think about health care.

That should create a whole experience, a holistic experience for the attendee, that we didn’t cover all of digital health, we didn’t cover all of orthopedics. We just covered two areas, the [bury 04:39] to use big data to drive decision making in the context of risk management. Getting down, down, down to something practical, and something that’s actually something that we deal with everyday. Then, we looked at [para 04:51]health tools to bring care to patients outside the hospital system. One day can’t cover too much, but also made it very practical and very real.

Cunningham: What would you say, as a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon, is your dream technology, the thing you’re most excited to see become part of your day to day practice?

Bini: I did mention that, in fact, that’s an idea, maybe I should do this myself, but who knows if I got the time. We need to integrate these apps. When I say integrate, I mean, they should talk to each other, they should be on a phone, I should be able to prescribe a series of apps specific for a specific patient. It could be a weight loss app, or maybe a depression app, along with a rehabilitation app, or the post injury app, then there may be something in there … It’s a sequence of apps, that I put together for that patient, like as an eRX, is the catch for the folks I’ve talked about it. It’s this idea that I give a visual prescription, and it includes apps, and they talk to each other. So, data collected in one, will flow to the other, and I’d like for that to come to me in a single portal. And it’s not the EMR. The problem is, if we wait for the EMR’s to open up to the point we can ask them the way we want to ask them, the information through a medscanner, it’s going to be a long time. Let’s stay above the EMR. I think we can access data in two areas, it’s going to be three areas, the phone’s not going away, the EMR’s not going to go away, and yes, a third data point entry, entry point data, point entry, is reasonable.

Cunningham: One of my favorite quotes that I heard today was that, “People always over estimate 2 year innovation, and they underestimate 10 year innovation.” What I find fascinating about what you had just said, is that I do believe that in 10 years that platform is going to exist. Where it’s something that’s not the EHR, and that is innovative, that’s more customizable, allows a solution that you will be using, just like you described. Do you think that is reasonable? Do think that will happen in two years? You’re in the Bay Area, right?

Bini: Let’s just say I started working on this tomorrow, and I raised the few hundred thousand dollars to get some software engineers around it. It’s actually not really complicated to do. There are some physicians who work with Red-Docs to create an API or [Volitek 07:21], for example, another company that’s working on providing an API network, a network API system. The technology is certainly available, it’s the desire to do it. That could definitely be available in two years. The question is will it be adopted widely enough to make a difference in two years. That probably takes longer. So, the question of whether or not technology surfaces before it’s fully adapted, that’s why I think you see this delay. You actually see them happening pretty quickly, it’s the adoption that takes longer. So, point, yes, you notice this. When they say we underestimate what happens in two years, no I don’t think. I disagree with that quote, it’s true for adoption, but not for innovation. Innovation does happen faster than you think, and in two years a lot of innovation does happen. Part of it is, frankly, for all I know, there’s some team working on this right now, it’s not out yet.

Cunningham: Right. I think that the reference was more towards policy making, I think it was CSM that had said that, right? No?

Bini: No, no, that quote, she quote, Charlene Frizzera did bring it up. But it’s not … She was the second to bring it up … Can’t remember who was first. But, nonetheless, it’s an oft quoted, I can’t remember who the original quoter was, but it’s common to say that. There’s a lot of truth from the adoption side. It’s the surfacing, when the idea starts to surface that it takes so long. I think, on the change management section, when Jessica [parizi 08:52] made many, many interesting points, but one of the most interesting ones was what’s a great leader, it’s the one that’s trying out new technology themselves, they did buy the smartwatch, they did buy the iPhone, they did download Pokemon Go to see what’s happening, even though they can’t see a reason to do it for the purpose of their current work-

Cunningham: They’re curious.

Dr. Bini:
They’re curious. Maybe they come up with a use of that tool that had, up to that point, not been considered.

Cunningham: I have one final question for you.

Bini: Yeah, shoot.

Cunningham: This conference was so amazing. I have no doubt that next year, it’s going to be even more amazing and have a great turnout as well. The first conference is DocSF 2017, what is the theme going to be next year. You know how AUS always has a AUS then they have a statement. Can you predict, or what would you hypothesize would be the 2018 DocSF theme?

Bini: Yeah, I think that … When I chose the two things of big data analytics and tele-health, it’s because, of the ones I had listed in my head, those are the ones that are the most clearly applicable today. A year is a long time, back to this quote of yours [to-in-ten 10:11], I believe that robotics, in my world, is going to be something we should focus on next year, so robotics, possibly 3D printing, but I think AI, Artificial Intelligence …

Cunningham: We heard some of that today.

Bini: Yep, exactly. But that was one company out of seven, that was really focusing on using real algorithms. I think next year we’re going to start seeing even more companies in that field creating even more impressive results. Maybe next year, unfortunately Curie couldn’t come and talk about Watson’s interface, maybe he can come next year, because I think understanding where that’s going to go and what implication it’s going to have for us … However, that said, the keynotes I reserve for talks that may not be immediately applicable, but to the frame setting. Because the major focus points have to get down to the practical application, whatever topics we choose are going to be ones that have been deployed and have some real data behind them, like you could show real data behind CODE. That’s really important, I don’t want to show what some people practice in vaporware. Sounds great, show us the data.

Cunningham: You must be exhausted. This was an amazing, amazing kickoff to this conference. I’m so excited to see where this goes in the future. On behalf of all the attendees, I can say that we’re very grateful for you putting this together. This was a very unique format, very unique audience, and very relevant subject matter. Dr. Bini, we’re so grateful.

Bini: Oh, thank you so much.

Cunningham: Cheers, great work.

Bini: Thank you.

Cunningham: We’re signing off.

Bini: That’s it. Come back next year.


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Ellen Laux

Ellen Laux

Ellen is a design and marketing veteran and lives on the marketing team at CODE. She's focusing on helping surgeons and hospitals understand and LOVE PROs.

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