Artificial intelligence and healthcare data at Tech Spirit Barcelona 2023: where we are and where we are heading

Submitted by Albert Guerrer… on 29 January 2024


The fourth year of this event coincided with the tenth anniversary of Tech Barcelona. This further strengthens the event’s position as a meeting point for the technology ecosystem in the Catalan capital, where Biocat discussed the current state and future perspectives of artificial intelligence and healthcare data.


The Llotja de Mar space hosted the fourth edition of Tech Spirit Barcelona, the benchmark event for the entrepreneurial and technology community in Barcelona that brought together a multitude of experts and professionals on December 12 and 13. The event coincided with the tenth anniversary of the Tech Barcelona association, which took advantage of this milestone to put together an event with more than140 speakers and some 60 talks on important topics like the future of artificial intelligence, new challenges in entrepreneurship and funding opportunities. The event also featured a pitch competition run by ACCIÓ.

Like previous years, this time Biocat also took part in Tech Spirit Barcelona by hosting two sessions: the keynote “Joining a cross-tech future (with AI)”, led by Björn Arvidsson, managing director of STUNS Life Science (the organization that drives the growth of the life sciences and healthcare sector in Uppsala, Sweden , and the panel discussion “Pioneering the change”, moderated by Montse Daban , director of Strategic Foresight and International Relations at Biocat, with David Moner , Chief Production Officer at Veratech for Health; Elena Santana , business developer at Naru Intelligence; Taryn Andersen, CEO and co-founder of Impulse4Women; and Björn Arvidsson , managing director of STUNS Life Science.

In the first session, Björn Arvidsson gave an overview of the technology ecosystem in Sweden and spoke about the development of new technologies like artificial intelligence, taking into account the needs of the sector. For example, patients are no longer either healthy or sick: health is a series of interconnected factors that contribute more or less to a person’s overall wellbeing. Therefore, he believes healthcare today and in the future is about tackling the root causes and investing in prevention. “Today we generate as much information in one year as in all of human history previously, which is a great opportunity for data based healthcare technologies. But we have to integrate connections and artificial intelligence,” he added.


Managing healthcare data: challenges and opportunities

The panel discussion “Pioneering the change” looked briefly at the main challenges the ecosystem is facing, like ownership, management, exploitation and regulation of healthcare data, as well as data quality and how to gain the trust of healthcare professionals and the administration in order to use this data. According to the speakers, tackling these challenges is key to integrating new technologies into the system.

“We have to be very careful with the information patients share, because it can be used for other, completely unrelated purposes. This risk exists, so we have to work to find a solution,” stressed Elena Santana. In the same line, David Moner spoke about the need to standardize processing of this type of data: “The healthcare sector hasn’t yet faced a real formalization of knowledge management, and that makes it seem more complicated, above all taking into account that people’s lives are at stake, so there is no margin for error.”

For her part, Taryn Andersen explained that it is important for entrepreneurs to get access to the data so they can validate their innovations, but clear regulations are needed: “There are still lots of unanswered questions. This field is wide open and must be regulated.” STUNS Life science Managing Director Björn Arvidsson agrees, noting that we need to establish a data use protocol.

One of the other issues up for debate was who this data belongs to and how it should be shared. For Elena Santana, “Patients are the ones sharing their information, but the hospital stores it. Who does it really belong to? So, the real question isn’t what patients can do with this data, but what hospitals can do as managers.” David Moner, however, believes what matters most is finding a way to share the information: “First of all, we have to establish data semantics and commit to interoperability so we can share the data and work towards a solution.”

In short, the experts are calling for a coherent, coordinated framework to decide who owns the data and how it is managed. Harmonization of this data in a context that is changing so quickly will ensure it can be used effectively for patients.

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