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Mike Feibus: Forward Focused Episode 4

Jul 8, 2019

Evan Kohn: Hello and welcome to Forward Focused brought to you by Pypestream Digital Labs, a thought series on customer experience, artificial intelligence, and enterprise automation, I’m Evan Kohn from Pypestream and today we’re talking with Mike Feibus. Mike is an industry influencer and the voice of FeibusTech. He’s an oft-quoted expert on connected health and fitness, smart home, connected cars, AR/VR, privacy and security. Mike is also a regular technology columnist for USA TODAY, CIO Magazine and Fortune. Mike great to have you with us!

Mike Feibus: Yeah, thanks for having me, Evan.

EK: So Mike, you’ve interviewed many fascinating people, just recently, for example, you spoke with Rebecca Madsen, Chief Consumer Officer at United Healthcare, and discussed AI and big data. Curious, you know, who stands out to you as most memorable when it comes to interviewing transformational leaders?

MF: You know, I mean, Rebecca’s great but I think probably, hands down, the most fascinating interview I had — I actually recorded and just used pieces of it as opposed to posting the whole interview — but it was with Kevin Tracey, he runs a bioelectronics center in the Feinstein Institute on Long Island. I had a bioelectronics client at the time he was, and still is, known as, sort of, Mister Bioelectronics. So, a fascinating area where, you know, they’re looking primarily at the Vagus nerve which is, kind of, the rest and digest center, you know, sort of the opposite of the fight or flight reaction in the nervous system. It’s amazing what they can start to do with that, you know, toning down things like Crohn’s Disease to inflammatory diseases like arthritis, it’s amazing what they’re able to do.

EK: Well, pulling that type of development into a market is certainly a heavy lift. What types of characteristics did Kevin have for that type of undertaking?

MF: Obviously the medical and technical expertise, I mean, he’s also a visionary, he’s kind of, he’s adding rigor to this which, you know, up until now it’s been, sort of, happenstance and he’s trying to apply the same sort of process that the drug industry’s used for, you know, a hundred years, which is, you know, to identify a problem and identify the underlying chemical makeup of that problem and then you try stuff until you start to see a change in that chemical makeup. I mean, there’s hundreds of thousands of fibers in the Vagus nerve and each of them does something. So, yeah, that’s a huge undertaking trying to figure out all the knobs that we have to better our health.

EK: And Mike, you’ve covered a range of stories in healthcare, how are changes in technology are impacting the patient experience the most today?

MF: To me I think what’s made the biggest impact thus far is what’s happening outside the walls because up until now the doctor had no idea what was going on the 99.99% of the time we’re not, you know, in the doctor’s office, or in emergency care, or somewhere else, in a clinical facility. And things like wearables, like connected blood pressure cuffs, and scales, we have more to tell the doctor, now, when the doctor asks how’re you doing, it used to be ‘oh, fine’, and that really didn’t give them any kind of insight. For me, I’ve noticed, you know, when I travel more my weight goes up, my resting heart rate goes up, my blood pressure goes up, you know, I can start figuring out, maybe, what sort of knobs in my lifestyle to turn that can bring it back down. So the insight from daily awareness, I think, is so far the biggest change.

EK: Well, like most people you’re also a consumer of this healthcare, what are you most excited for in terms of AI in medicine and patient-doctor relationships?

MF: Yeah, good question. Well, I’ll start, you know, outside the walls because that’s what we were talking about, and, you know, right now that sort of depends on humans, whether it’s us or clinicians to figure out what’s going on from the stream of data. That’s really just sort of a waypoint on the road to where we’re going and AI figures prominently in that because artificial intelligence has the potential to make sense of this data, many times long before we can. And inside the walls AI’s already starting to make an impact with, you know, fusing big data together and being able to look in the emergency room and watch for early onset of sepsis — that’s a critical element because time is of the essence. If you can find out in a couple of hours that a patient may be coming down with it or contracting it then that can be potentially life saving. And there are other examples like that too with predicting heart failure, so many things. And then in and outside the walls, early onset diabetes, you know, trigger points for that. So, yeah, AI can really transform what we’re doing from just, sort of, episodic, whenever you happen to go into the clinician they get insight, now you can get it all the time.

EK: Well, you’ve seen a number of industries change over the years, as a writer, as a columnist, as an analyst, certainly spending a lot of time at 30,000 feet traveling the globe to different conferences, what’s different about tech today compared to, say, 10 or 15 years ago?

MF: Tech today is, it’s just so wide open, it’s exciting. We have, you know, the internet boom of the ’90s and then we had to pause for the infrastructure to catch up, then the apps kicked take advantage of it, so, there was a real lull to where tech news was more about going from 1 gigahertz to 1.2 gigahertz, it was a tough time. Also, you know, a difficult time for experts because if folks don’t have questions they don’t need folks with answers, if you know what I mean.

EK: Yup, yup. And you’ve spent a lot of time writing about security and privacy, there’s certainly not been a shortage of headlines lately on privacy and data breaches. How do you think those companies can earn back the trust of consumers?

MF: You know, I really think you have to separate the security, which to me is more of a data breach, and privacy, which I view as more of a breach of trust, and I don’t see that there’s anything so new, per se, in that area. But what is new is new is our perception has changed, we’re understanding what’s been going on, so, increasingly there’s a feeling of we’re fed up and we’re not going to take this anymore and so that’s a lot of the activity right now, there’s a lot of legislative activity trying to reign it in, rules and regulations and there’s a lot of activity in the private sector where folks are coming up with a way to put a little buffer zone between our data and the online property so we can, sort of, wrestle control back. Yeah, and so that’s an exciting area actually. There’s been a feeling of helplessness for years about this and what we know is only the tip of the iceberg and maybe if you can expose more and also control it more then I think we’ll all feel better about being online.

EK: Well, you’ve built quite a digital following, across social media, Mike. What advice do you have for folks out there to earn relevance in the public sphere and how do you go about selecting meaningful content to share?

MF: Boy, there’s a lot to say about that, I think first I would, sort of, draw a line of whether you believe or aspire to be an influencer or kind of a micro influencer, which is more of where I sit. My following is more in the tens of thousands as opposed to the hundreds of thousands or, you know, 7, 8 figures, Kardashian territory — I’m much more of a B2B kind of influencer. So, that involves a much different kind of activity, you’ve got to go out and meet folks, attend the right trade shows, get in front of a lot of the right people and most of all you have to be patient. You know, for the longest time it just felt like I was sending smoke signals into space and hoping that UFOs would see it and, you know, it’s possible they might come along at the right time and they might speak that language but it didn’t feel very bloody likely. And that made it hard to keep going but you do have to keep going, and I couldn’t point to one thing that just, sort of, changed it, there was definitely a critical mass when I crossed a thousand follower barriers, I think whether we know it or not we inherently respect that more so it’s just persistence and creating relationships.

EK: Great Mike. Well, Mike Feibus thank you for joining us today, where can our listeners find you?

MF: You can find pointers on just about everything I do on, it’s spelled just like it sounds, no I’m kidding, it’s F-E-I-B-U-S T-E-C-H dot com also @mikefeibus on Twitter and you can find my Youtube page as well by searching for Mike Feibus.

EK: Perfect, well thanks again Mike. Listeners, be sure to visit Pypestream online at and follow us on all of our social channels that’s P-Y-P-E-S-T-R-E-A-M. Thank you for tuning in today, we hope you join us for the next Forward Focused podcast.