Research Horizons


Cincinnati Children’s Virtual Conference Will Explore Health and Technology Innovation

Photo of Ryan Moore, MD using virtual reality technology

How can we use digital technology to drive improvements in health? On Thursday, June 25, 2020, technology and health care experts will discuss this central question in an all-new virtual conference—Innovating Digital Medicine 2020.

Hosted by the Divisions of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatric General & Thoracic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, this free event offers livestream sessions and opportunities to connect with a global audience. Participants will learn about artificial intelligence in pediatrics, big data, and digital health from keynote speakers and renowned innovators in their fields, Anthony C. Chang, MD, MBA, MPH, MS, and Michael Snyder, PhD. Throughout the day, presentations will focus on 3D printing, AI, bioinformatics, telehealth, social media, simulation, gamification, and virtual & augmented reality.

Each of these topics is shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic—a reality that has demonstrated a critical need for accelerating innovative technologies for health. Here, Program Co-Director Todd A. Ponsky, MD (a pioneer in pediatric single port surgery and founder of GlocalCastMD), and Biomedical Informatics Session Co-Chair Yizhao Ni, PhD (an expert in machine learning and natural language processing), discuss the challenges and opportunities that make our goals for Innovating Digital Medicine 2020 more critical than ever.

Why is this conference important?

Ponsky: Today we are living some of the most difficult times in history. These challenging times often force us to think differently. Sometimes, the only solutions to difficult problems are innovating new ones. Necessity is the mother of opportunity. We must not look at what we are currently doing but what we could be doing. Innovating Digital Medicine 2020 will highlight innovations that may alter health care, now and in the future.

Ni: This is the very first artificial intelligence (AI) conference held by Cincinnati Children’s, indicating the institution’s commitment in this important domain. It will explore the fusion of AI and clinical informatics as well as its implication on our health care in the future. Our hope is that it will improve our institution’s reputation in this domain and help move toward an AI-driven, intelligent healthcare system.

What presentations are you looking forward to hearing and why?

Ponsky: Most recently, the use of telehealth has exploded in response to the challenges faced by the onset of COVID-19. But what else can we do with telehealth? How can we optimize its use? I will be moderating the morning session on “Digital Health and Innovation” where we will discuss these questions and more.

Ni: I look forward to hearing clinicians’ needs, challenges, and perspectives surrounding AI solutions. As a designer of AI solutions, the first critical step toward developing a successful product is hearing and adopting end-users’ voices.

What are three key themes that participants can take away from this year’s conference?

Ponsky: Among the many themes we will cover throughout the conference, the following may be particularly interesting to participants:

  • How can the use of augmented reality improve our ability to care for patients?
  • With many medical conferences being cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, how will we get new information most effectively in the future?
  • How can we use artificial intelligence to better understand disease and predict behavior so that we can be better prepared?

Ni: Join us for the Biomedical Informatics sessions where we will explore:

  • What AI solutions are emerging for the healthcare industry?
  • What do physicians hope to achieve and what are their perspectives on these AI solutions?
  • How do we establish an eco-system between all of those involved in this domain, including data scientists, IT technicians, and healthcare providers?

These and many other questions will be addressed during the conference on Thursday, June 25, 2020. To learn more and register online, visit For live updates, follow #DigitalMed20 on Twitter.