Tech Tonics: Patients are why technology matters

February 5th, 2018 |
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Deborah DiSanzo had a plan. She was going to be a stockbroker and make a ton of money to rise out of the rough circumstances of her childhood and make it big. When she realized she hated the role, but loved programming, she cast around for a new way to exercise her tech skills. Despite a series of setbacks as tech company after tech company didn’t quite make it, Deborah found herself as a product manager at Apollo with a bunch of technology looking for a new use case. Armed with 250 computers, a blank slate and a team of neurophysiologists at University of Pittsburgh who needed better ways to make decisions, Deborah found her true love, the use of technology to make medicine better.

While Deborah has been a leader in the health IT field for nearly 30 years, it was a flight attendant named Bridget who gave her effort real purpose and drove home how important it is to build around patient need. Bridget was one of the very first people to benefit from a defibrillator placed on airplanes by Deborah’s then division at HP – Heartstream. Flying home from her Heartstream training, Bridget went into cardiac arrest and was saved by the device and was able to thank Deborah personally after a Congressional hearing about defibrillators in public locales.

Deborah saw the AI movement coming and found her way to IBM. Today Deborah is the General Manager leading IBM Watson Health. Having used the technology to help navigate the three different treatment plans recommended by three different physicians for her own breast cancer experience, Deborah believes that AI and related technologies are essential to make a difference in a system with far too many medical mistakes.

We are delighted to have Deborah on Tech Tonics today.

We are grateful to our sponsor, DNAnexus, for support of today’s show. DNAnexus is the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.

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