Gary Shapiro: The Importance of Innovation at the Intersection of Technology, Business, and Healthcare

Written by Gary Shapiro

The Consumer Technology Association represents companies like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Pandora, Google, Facebook, Twitter – all these companies that have come along and disrupted the status quo. They get feedback against their disruptive technologies because there are a whole lot of existing businesses that don’t like change.

Focused ultrasound is also a disruptive innovation. I see the same barriers – maybe even more so because it’s not something that will make people wealthy. But it’s something that will change treatment for patients and reduce costs.


CES book club
Neal Kassell, John Grisham, and Gary Shapiro at CES 2018

In the medical world this is not as obvious as it would seem. So focused ultrasound needs support, it needs visibility, it needs champions.How does focused ultrasound fit into the CTA universe?
Consumer technology sees many innovations coming along, and those technologies also have barriers they must deal with. No matter how great a technology is, there are going to be forces to overcome.

We’re doing the same [championing] with virtual reality, which can help with dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder. We’re also looking at 3-D printing. Printed limbs cost a fraction of traditional prosthetics.

These are all things with which consumer technology solves really fundamental problems. I am personally passionate about focused ultrasound.

During your keynote at the focused ultrasound symposium next week you’ll be discussing the intersection of healthcare, technology and business. Can you share some examples?
There’s so much going on with artificial intelligence and the use of data, which comes from “sensorization.” And that comes from the smartphone, which is ubiquitous. It senses movement, it senses heartbeat, temperature, air pressure, location. It’s quickly being transformed into a healthcare solution where doctors don’t have to deal with patients. They can get data from afar and not require that patients always have to drive to see the doctor. So, because of the ubiquity of smartphones, innovators are coming together in very creative ways.

And that’s what a lot of what CES healthcare is about: how these sensors are being use to solve problems.

In terms of examples using artificial intelligence in healthcare: It’s identifying patterns, finding abnormalities, doing cancer screening. We’re dealing with a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals around the globe, and more and more we’re seeing technology step in to solve problems.

What can we expect in the next few years in the health and medical industries in terms of the disruption? How will the healthcare landscape change?
I have a book coming out in January in which I talk about this. It’s called Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation, and I mention focused ultrasound in the book.

Focused ultrasound is clearly one of the ways in which healthcare will change. I also talk about artificial intelligence being a game changer given the shortage of doctors and the ability of AI to perform diagnosis.

I also talk about augmented reality. There’s a lot of research showing that you get a lot better at surgery the more you do. Augmented reality helps as a tool for training. This is so much better than reading textbooks or working on cadavers. Doctors are actually being tested with augmented reality, being scored and getting certificates of completion.

Focused ultrasound is exciting to me because it solves big problems, it’s great for the patient, and great for the healthcare system. It doesn’t fit nicely into the existing healthcare system in terms of doctors doing surgery and chemotherapy and other treatments, because that’s a whole system that is set up for a different set of treatments.

But it’s worth promoting – and the people who are working on focused ultrasound are doing God’s work, and that’s why I’m promoting it.

It will take cost out of the systems, will require less of doctor time and will provide tools for patients.

We’re still at the beginning of this radical change in technology, which will make things better. And it’s important for humanity that we do this.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the US trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies. CTA also owns and produces CES, the global stage for innovation, which meets annually in January in Las Vegas to spotlight innovation in consumer technology.

Additional Reading
Neal Kassell, John Grisham, and Focused Ultrasound Make a Splash at CES 2018
Focused Ultrasound Featured at CES
Neurosurgeon Dr. Neal F. Kassell Discusses Health Tech and Advising on John Grisham’s Book