Brad Perkins

Sapiens DS’ Brad Perkins on a new healthcare industry emerging from computing

The present-day healthcare system (the medical industry) naturally embodies a collection of long established characteristics (e.g. paradigms, practices, tools and philosophical beliefs). These have been been interwoven in a successive patchwork stretching back to Ancient Egypt. Significant improvements have occurred during the past ~200 years; particularly the past ~100. Further acceleration is expected.

However over that same ~200 year period our environment (e.g. chemical exposures) has become increasingly at odds with our health. Our lifestyles (e.g. indoor working) conjoined with the shifting environment has also deteriorated in terms of health sustainment.

Within the past ~40 years our food environment in particular has become sharply more adverse to our health and longevity. Strikingly this been in side-step with the issuance of national nutritional guidelines that were not based upon scientific rigor.

If this was not bad enough, the healthcare system during the past ~60 years has constructed, imbued and propagated financial incentives at odds with health. Sickness has become big business along with sickness inducing food-like-products.

It’s left us in the midst of a skyrocketing obesity and chronic disease crisis. One already of epic proportion and fast approaching a species-level crisis. The majority of which is entirely preventable. It represents human suffering on a scale never before witnessed and a grave threat to our new generation.

The healthcare system has been attempting to manage it using tools that were very successful during the 20th century (largely targeting bacteria and viruses), namely pharmacological drugs and procedures. However this is clearly not working and not likely to work even if broken incentives were corrected. It instead requires a novel 21st century approach. One is starting to appear and must be catalyzed, hence this podcast. It’s being born from an entirely different domain – computer science, and a new relationship between man and machine.

Computing, historically known as “machine-assisted human computation” (as “computer” originally referred to the person, not the machine) has, during the past ~60 years went from something unknown to the average person to devices proximal to, carried on and/or worn on the average person the majority of their lifetime. The devices are now entering a new epoch wherein they will understand humans and human life better than humans. From superior emotion detection to whom we should marry. From accurately reading our body biomarkers real-time to unravelling which lifestyle aspects are most negatively impacting our health span.

As this presently unfolds and our lives are increasingly governed and dependent upon computer algorithms, the opportunity is arising for a new healthcare. Not one to replace existing healthcare, but to emerge and live in parallel. A fork.

Existing healthcare will remain confined to sickness and injury (“sick care”). The new second healthcare on the other hand will be for healthy people who still form the majority of the human population.

Existing healthcare will for the most-part stop attempting to deal with prediction and prevention (aside from viral and bacterial). Instead the new industry will. It will also add a third piece, health optimization (of already “healthy” individuals).

Read the transcript

In this inaugural episode, Brad Perkins speaks of why he left the role of founding Chief Medical Officer for Human Longevity, Inc. to create Sapiens Data Science, Inc. where he is Co-Founder, Director and CEO.

Brad covered a number of topics including the necessity to straddle existing healthcare whilst spearheading the new “healthcare for healthy people”. He spoke of his plans to bring as many clinicians from the world of today with him on that journey as he can, using “health scoring” as the guiding polestar. However he accepted that for the most-part it will require an entirely new breed of clinician; schooled in data science. He shared his profound belief that life insurance is better aligned to own the new healthcare than today’s healthcare incumbents.

He dropped a number of what appeared to be hints about the first consumer product/s he’ll release. Namely, aiming to hit an Amazon Prime type price point. Targeting the 50-74 age demographic in particular where he said the cumulative mortality rate is a third for men and quarter for women a quarter. The likelihood they’ll profile subscribers for the 27 conditions that are responsible for 90% of that premature mortality. The most tangible product hint came when he expressed desire for a “machine utility that sits quietly in the background of people’s lives and prioritizes what steps that they can take to protect and improve their health at any period of time they want to devote bandwidth to doing that”.

He spoke passionately about his view that large numbers of people dying unnecessarily today because of a 17 year gap between the availability of scientific evidence and the broad scale medical use of it. He weaved in insightful and visionary bombshells including that medicine today is more a qualitative practice and needs to become quantitative.

He closed out by saying he wished to create a platform to act as a marketplace for clinical algorithms in order to fix their supply chain today, rather than leave such algorithms inert in medical literature.

Topics we discussed in this episode
  • Why Brad left Human Longevity Incorporated to found Sapiens Data Science Incorporated
  • Hyper Wellbeing “Wellness-as-a-Service” and “Healthcare for Healthy People” Constructs
  • Medical practice today is very qualitative rather than quantitative
  • The 17 year time gap between the availability of scientific evidence and the broad scale medical use of it is costing human life on mass scale
  • Three service categories of proactive healthcare likely to emerge – machine alone, little bit of a human and a machine, and all human
  • Failure of preventative healthcare today
  • Rise of a second healthcare industry based upon prediction, prevention and optimization
  • Possibility that the life insurance industry could own this new healthcare industry
  • Today physicians are making high risk decisions on behalf of individuals without use of datascience/predictive analytics
  • The need for an entirely new breed of clinicians, schooled in datascience
  • Brad’s desire to bring along early adopting physicians
  • The likelihood that the new industry will have a higher market capitalization than healthcare today
  • Use of Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) to keep healthy people health
  • Health scoring
  • New FDA guidelines for Software as a Medical Device (SaMD)
  • Limited direct access in the United States to one’s own body-data due to laws, unlike many other countries
  • Next generation risk models for diseases that are associated with premature mortality
  • The world has fundamentally changed in terms of data availability for prediction
  • Largest investment opportunity over the next decade is longevity and biological aging