Joseph Hahn, MD, chief of staff at the Cleveland Clinic, wrapped up the Medical Innovation Summit on Wednesday by highlighting some of the themes he saw emerge during the three-day conference, and his insights from those themes.

Gene mapping and personal genomics was a hot topic during the summit with an entire session on Tuesday dedicated to discussing the market for consumer genotyping in oncogenomics – along with the subject of genotyping being mentioned in several sessions throughout the meeting.

Hahn said the conclusion he drew from these discussions is that "it's still not ready for prime time, people aren't sure how this can be useful." He also confessed that genetics was his least favorite subject as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore) and that seeing it emerge as an important topic in healthcare today is like "my worst nightmare coming true, it's coming back after 40 years."

Another hot topic that came up throughout the conference was the subject of wellness as speakers noted that 45% of illnesses are related to behavior such as obesity, drinking, and smoking. The discussion centered on whose responsiblity it is to enforce wellness behavior – is it the government's responsibility? Employers? Or is it a personal responsibility?

"We're in a society that really just wants a quick fix," Hahn said, using diet pills as an example of people looking for an easy way to lose weight as opposed to healthy eating and exercise.

Technology also became a theme of the summit this year, Hahn noted, with the Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM (Armonk, New York) telling attendees Tuesday that the healthcare "system" isn't actually a "system" at all (Medical Device Daily, Oct. 7, 2009).

After hearing Palmisano speak, Hahn said he walked away wondering "could the electronic medical record be for our industry what barcodes were for the retail industry?"

Lastly, Hahn mentioned the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE; London) that acts as a gatekeeper in the UK, holding the power to decide, even after regulatory approval has been granted, whether or not the public should have access to it.

"The more you listen to what [NICE] means the more it's not so nice," Hahn said. He noted some of the points made by panel member Beth Seidenberg, MD, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, during a session on healthcare reform.

"Beth Seidenberg said venture capitalists won't invest in [new therapies and technology] as long as the threat of comparative effectiveness is out there," Hahn said. "Her concern is that VC's are just not going to invest ... until things play out and that will really stifle innovation."

— Amanda Pedersen