By Judy Newman
Collaborate, even as you compete, and all will benefit — that was the message keynote speaker Mark Freitas brought to the 2016 Wisconsin BioHealth Summit at the Overture Center this week.
Sharing data among health care organizations can lead to lower medical costs and better health for the general public, said Freitas, managing director, Patient Health and Competitive Center of Excellence for Accenture Strategy, part of the global, professional services company Accenture, based in Chicago.
“You have great innovative talent here,” said Freitas, who works out of Accenture’s Boston office, in an interview after his speech. “If you can bring that together, it would be a really powerful force.”
Freitas said Accenture has been working to encourage different types of companies and nonprofit organizations to work together and share ideas and data, as a way to improve the health care system.
For example, after a patient has a medical procedure, the health care provider should think about the next steps in the patient’s recovery and which companies can provide those services, and should facilitate those connections.
It’s part of a “holistic journey” for the patient, Freitas said.
It would take the cooperation of medical centers to share data, lawmakers to pass bills to make data sharing easier, and patient groups giving consent for the data collection, he said.
The result, said Freitas, should be easier access to affordable health care. “Then, I’m likelier to use the health care system,” he said.
It’s all for the “greater good,” he said. “If you want to spark innovation and creativity, if you have a higher moral purpose … it makes it all the more rewarding,” Freitas said.
In a panel discussion at the summit, several health-tech company executives said Wisconsin should be doing more to publicize the industry’s prominence in the state.
“Maybe we can take our show on the road a bit,” said Randy Spaulding, CEO and founder of Spaulding Clinical, a clinical research company in West Bend.
The Madison area is very active, with BioForward based here and events such as the weeklong, entrepreneur-oriented Forward Fest held every year, said Greg Tracy, co-founder and chief technology officer at Propeller Health, Madison, whose sensors aim to help people with asthma.
He said maybe that type of activity can be spread to the Milwaukee area and the Fox Valley.
“What we can do is really important,” said Michael Barbouche, CEO of Forward Health Group, a Madison health data analysis company.
Spaulding said the innovators who are improving health care are “the real heroes in our state.”
About 330 people attended the daylong conference presented by BioForward, the statewide advocacy organization for health technology and life sciences companies in Wisconsin.
Two awards were presented, to James Thomson and Ralph Kauten.
Stem cell pioneer Thomson, director of regenerative biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, received the Hector DeLuca Scientific Achievement award. His discoveries have “transformed the field of biomedicine leading to disease treatment breakthroughs in what is now known as regenerative medicine,” said BioForward CEO Lisa Johnson.