At CES: Demonstrating How to Get to a “New Normal” Life in a Pandemic
January 25, 2022 (originally published January 12, 2022 on LinkedIn)
Bettina Experton
Founder & CEO at Humetrix

Dr. Bettina Experton on the CES 2022 panel session on January 6
"How's Your Digital Transformation Going?"
Humetrix booth display showcased at the CES 2022 conference

Among tens of thousands of other attendees, I just returned from CES, back in its normal live in-person form in Las Vegas January 5-7. With the fear of COVID and in light of the new highly contagious Omicron variant surge, several high-profile companies had very publicly decided to cancel their participation at CES. As the physician CEO of Humetrix, epidemiologist, and former Public Health Officer in the State of California, I seriously assessed the risk of my company’s participation to this year's event. Will I expose my employees working in the Humetrix CES exhibit booth? Will CES, the largest technology show in the world, contribute to the spread of the pandemic with over 100,000 attendees in normal years, and coming from all regions of the world?

As a member of both the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Board of Industry Leaders and Health Division Board, I carefully reviewed the CTA’s health protocols for CES 2022 and agreed with them, while only advising the CTA to be more explicit in some of their COVID-19 prevention requests made to attendees, which they did. The CES health protocols included requirements for proof of full vaccination and use of face masks to access CES convention halls and the request towards prospective CES attendees to have a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test within 24 hours prior to coming to Las Vegas. In addition, a free Abbott box of two COVID-19 self-tests was provided to each CES attendee when picking up their badge. Furthermore, CTA requested that attendees would self-test again within 24 hours prior to accessing any CES venue and throughout the show which was shortened to three days.

During CES, the Humetrix team thoroughly adhered to the COVID-19 protocols: wearing a mask indoors- and highly protective N95 masks provided by our company, with each of us testing ourselves before and during CES. In the four days since our return and now at the end of the likely Omicron incubation period, every one of us has tested negative for COVID-19. Once more, CES provided us a unique opportunity to showcase and learn about innovative technologies helping us connect with each other and accessing the healthcare we need without delays. Such innovative technologies include AI to help us understand who is really at higher risk for severe COVID, help monitor the pandemic, and measure the efficacy of new vaccines and therapeutics.

CES also gave me the opportunity to discuss the current state of digital transformation in healthcare on an all-physician healthcare and tech industry executive panel moderated by Carlos Nunez of ResMed, with my colleagues Tony Slonim, CEO of Renown Health, Tania Elliott, CMO for Virtual Care at Ascension and Hon Pak, CMO at Samsung. I specifically spoke of the important role of advanced analytics and AI to deliver personalized patient safety warnings or for precision public health. To illustrate these points, I discussed how the Humetrix AI-powered analytics platform has been put to use by the DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) in Project Salus to map the pandemic and the COVID vaccination program at the zip code level, develop a validated risk model for severe COVID, and monitor the efficacy of vaccines for individuals at higher risk of severe COVID outcomes. Note: This panel discussion was live streamed during CES and can be accessed through January 31 on the CES Digital Venue by all CES registered attendees (to either CES in person or CES virtual).

This pandemic showed the power of real-time analytics platforms applied to population-level data. For the DoD JAIC, Humetrix has been processing and analyzing 100M Medicare claim records weekly since the beginning of the pandemic for a 20M high risk Medicare beneficiary cohort defined by our company and which accounted for over 55% of total COVID related hospitalizations and deaths in the US. The Humetrix Vaccine Effectiveness analytics findings for over 7M fully vaccinated individuals in the Project Salus Medicare cohort also helped the FDA approve COVID-19 vaccine boosters last September. Going forward, this platform and the 7TB Salus dataset Humetrix built will help monitor the effectiveness of vaccine boosters - in their various "mix and match" combinations - against Omicron and possibly other upcoming variants, as well as the efficacy of new FDA approved COVID-19 therapeutics targeted for use in higher risk patients. Such AI platforms are part of the tools now available to be capitalized on to help all of us get to a “New Normal” way of living with COVID which is here to stay as Ezekiel Emmanuel, Michael Osterholm and Celine Gounder stated in their proposed new National Strategy.

To conclude, CES 2022 has been and remains foremost the place where my tech industry and healthcare colleagues and I can truly reconnect safely and in person. There was a lot of spontaneous and safe hugs between all of us. It felt good to be back “live” with others. As we parted, I told Gary Shapiro and Karen Chupka, EVP of the CTA, who masterfully organized with her staff CES 2022 under such a difficult context: “Thank you for the joy you gave us in being back at CES!”

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