Roni Zeiger, M.D.

Former Chief Health Strategist, Google
Co-Founder and CEO, Smart Patients

The networked future of medicine.

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Biography

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Roni Zeiger, former Chief Health Strategist at Google, works at the cutting edge of technology, healthcare and user-centered design. At Google, he developed innovative digital medical services like online medical records, Google Flu Trends, and Symptom Search. Now Roni is leading a company called Smart Patients, a peer support network for patients and families. The network also helps healthcare organizations create more patient-centered services.

Roni's experience in digital health makes him one of the foremost speakers on how the internet is transforming modern healthcare. He designed Google Health, a system of patient-managed online personal health records where patients could access, update, and share their data with caregivers and institutions. Although this project is no longer active, Roni's experiments are still used as models for the future of health records.

Google Flu Trends re-imagined how we gather medical information and track diseases. Flu Trends monitors the spread of the flu around the United States by analyzing flu-related searches on Google. Its results usually match those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and are available weeks before the official numbers. It's an example of the role online innovation can play in making healthcare more efficient.

If these digital advances make up one side of the new world of networks, then patient expertise is the other. Patients today are bringing their intelligence and passion to bear on the conditions that affect them. They have powerful online tools at their disposal, such as those Roni helped build at Google. They now also form remarkable networks where they share their knowledge with other patients. Sometimes, they learn more about a niche topic than most clinicians: they become micro-experts.

Roni sees these micro-experts as a valuable new resource for the medical community, and one that raises many questions: How can we leverage the knowledge of connected patients to complement the expertise of providers and combat the misinformation often found online? How can patients help us deliver more patient-centered care and design more patient-centered clinical trials? Roni answers these questions and many others to help organizations embrace practical and user-centered technology.

Dr. Zeiger, a practicing physician, earned his M.D. at Stanford University and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco. He has served as a clinical instructor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and received a master's degree in biomedical informatics from Stanford.

Topics

Roni tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

How Technology is Shaping the Future of Medicine

Technology is changing the landscape for patients and for physicians faster than ever. Patients no longer just have the Google search box, they have smart phones, wearable activity trackers, and home genetic testing. Physicians have electronic health records, decision support systems, and e-visits. The biggest challenge — and opportunity — is that physicians also have patients with all these new tools. Roni Zeiger is an innovator in health technology and a practicing physician who understands the reality of patient care. His experience as Google’s Chief Health Strategist and in the startup world of Silicon Valley give him a unique perspective on the technologies that are poised to change the way physicians practice and how they interact with patients. His ongoing practice of medicine helps him distinguish the hype from the innovations that are changing medicine in meaningful and often challenging ways. 

Innovation in Healthcare

Innovation has come more slowly to healthcare than to many other fields. While technology is part of the answer, more important are the principles of user-centered design which are typically the realm of software designers. We can apply these principles to everything we do in health care, to identify and address problems that matter most to patients and clinicians. We have tremendous need for innovation in areas ranging from from clinical trial design to patient-physician communication. This approach also teaches us how to effect change in the context of the complex constraints of the health care system and our own organizations.

The Networked Future of Medicine

From decision support systems to Google Glass, networked technology is disrupting the practice of medicine. Physicians are increasingly interacting with each other and the rest of the health care team via electronic health records. E-visits and telemedicine are redefining the boundaries of the of the doctor’s appointment. Data relevant to all of these interactions is flowing from wireless devices that can measure blood pressure, glucose, exercise, and more. And patients often discuss such data, and what questions to ask their physicians, in online communities. These networked technologies represent a tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of medicine. They are also an unstoppable disruptive force that needs to be understood and incorporated into practice in a cost-effective way that works well for both patients and physicians.

The Future of Patient Engagement

Patient engagement has generally been a one-way strategy where information flows from the health care system to patients. Today’s patient expects a true conversation and more personalized care. While this may sound difficult and prohibitively expensive, web technologies, mobile, and social media make scalable and cost-effective approaches possible. The future of patient engagement means meeting patients where they are: on the go and online, not just in the clinic or hospital. Accountable care will increasingly require that we meaningfully engage patients to collaborate with them and their caregivers to provide better customer service and better care.

How Patients Find Health Information — and Each Other — Online

We are transitioning from an era where doctors wonder if their patients are searching online to one where patients wonder if their doctor is reviewed on Yelp. Based on his experience as Google’s Chief Health Strategist, Roni Zeiger shares the wide variety of online resources patients are using, from traditional portals like WebMD, to PubMed and clinicaltrials.gov and online communities. Such communities add a complex social dimension to every other source of information, where it’s not just about content, but discussion of how that content fits into each patient’s illness and preferences. What do patients and their families want from their providers, their insurers, and from researchers? This presentation offers an understanding of how this dynamic online landscape is changing patient education and the patient’s relationship with the health care system.

The Future of Clinical Trials

Information about clinical trials has been available online for years, but a new breed of patients has found this data and is discussing it online. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies face unprecedented pressure to run less expensive trials as more targeted drugs will be used by smaller populations. How can we tap into the motivation of the increasingly engaged patient to help us design effective trials that they want to participate in? What does the near ubiquitous availability of smart phones, wireless health sensors, and telemedicine mean for the future of distributed trials? In this presentation, Roni Zeiger addresses how these disruptive trends provide us with an opportunity to make better science happen faster and more efficiently.

Product Design for Health

User-centered design is a product design philosophy that helps us optimize a product around what users want, instead of asking them to change how they think or behave to accommodate the product. While this approach is ubiquitous in the software world of Silicon Valley, user-centered design is not commonly used in the development of websites, software, and other products in health care. Based on his clinical background and experience building software at Google and in the startup world, in this presentation Roni Zeiger discusses how to identify problems that matter most to patients and clinicians; how to focus on your ability to uniquely address a problem that matters; how to iteratively and cheaply prototype your designs; and how to consider the complex constraints of health care while challenging all assumptions. Patient-centered and physician-centered design can help us build more successful products, from websites and software, to clinical trials and drugs.

The Future of Medical Education

Gone are the days where medical students learned mostly from textbooks and anatomy atlases. But medical education still relies on learning from a modest number of teachers and patients, which in aggregate comprise a small subset of what practicing physicians need to know. Continuing medical education (CME) is designed to address this problem, but it is well documented that most CME is ineffective. The emergence of online communities for physicians and patients is a model for how future medical students — and clinicians more generally — can learn from and with each other in ways that transcend their individual experiences. Equally important, such approaches can build habits and methods of learning that constitute a career-long learning process, which is increasingly important as the pace of innovation in medicine has far exceeded what any one of us can keep up with alone.

Videos

Putting the consumer first | PwC's 180° Health Forum

Who is the real medical expert? | TEDMed 2013

Embrace The Patient Story | TEDx

Feedback

An organization of healthcare risk managers:
Roni did a really great job, alloted him an hour, he did 1.20. Our member [….], just let him continue, as everyone was enjoying his lecture. He did Q&A after. Spoke on how people access medical information now, not just through doctors.

A regional health insurance company:
Such a fantastic conference! Roni received rave reviews and really challenged the audience to think ahead to what's coming and what the implications are for the future of medicine and healthcare.