Distinguished Lecture on IoT and Remote Medicine featuring “Father of the Internet” Dr.
Vinton G. Cerf organized by the Aga Khan University in collaboration with the University of
Central Asia and CxO Global Forum.
On Friday, February 4 th , AKU’s Chief Information Officer, Shaukat Ali Khan, had the honor of hosting the eminent Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at
Google, for a discussion on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Remote Medicine. Dr. Cerf is considered a “Father of the Internet”, having co-designed its architecture, and is the recipient
of 29 honorary degrees as well as numerous awards, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
During his lecture, Dr. Cerf discussed how the Covid pandemic created a need for patients to access medical care while remaining socially isolated from doctors and other medical
practitioners. This eventually led him to contemplate more about the possibilities of remote medicine and remote patient monitoring, where our connected devices, with their own
sensors and data collection capabilities, could link up to form an “Internet of Things” that could continuously monitor our health. Dr Cerf explored the potential benefits and learnings
that can be derived from the data these devices will be able to provide at an aggregated level.
He offered a balanced perspective about the risks that may be associated with such innovations and analytics, including how stakeholders may work to mitigate these risks.
This creates new possibilities for healthcare. Widening access to healthcare is one opportunity, along with enabling practitioners to pre-empt ill health and put in place suitable services. Previously, doctors would only see patients when they are sick. Remote patient monitoring would allow doctors to have an indication of how patients are when they are healthy, and devices could alert doctors of any patient anomalies, such as an arrhythmia.
This allows for interventions that can detect potential health issues early and save lives. Dr. Cerf highlighted these new technologies are not without challenge. Open source software,
connecting these devices, could potentially be open to dangerous cyber-attacks. Advanced technologies such as AI and Machine Learning have to be carefully tested to prevent wrong
patient diagnoses. Dr. Cerf also expressed that the regulatory and legislative environment created by governments to enable these technologies will also be an important factor.
The lecture was followed by a lively Q&A discussion among a highly distinguished panel. Members included: the Former Deputy Prime Minister and IT Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Dastan Dogoev; Deputy Minister of Industries and New Technologies Republic of Tajikistan, Farhod Bilolov; Col. Imran Mansoor, Sector Commander of the Special Communication Organization Gilgit-Baltistan; Sidra Iqbal, an award-winning Pakistani journalist, Azhar Nawar, Group CIO of Engro Corporation; Faizan Mahmood, CIO of K-Electric; Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, Operations Director of Askham Village Community; and AKU’s own Chief Medical Information Officer, Dr. K. Nadeem Ahmad, and Farhana Alarakhiya, Global Data Innovation Officer.
The panel raised challenging questions about operating in remote mountain environments where electricity and internet connectivity were intermittent, the potential of “monitoring fatigue”, government vs. private sector responsibility of ensuring connectivity for a population, and the ethical use of data. These questions led to detailed insights and exchanges between Dr. Cerf and the panel members, giving a balanced perspective on the work that needs to be done to prepare for the inevitable revolution in the way we experience healthcare.
At the close of the event, Dr Cerf expressed his gratitude to Shaukat and the hosting organizations saying ‘this was a very wide-ranging and thought-provoking session and I
found it very useful indeed.’