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The following Vital Signs presents highlights from our attendance at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, CA. This meeting is held every fall in the San Francisco area and is considered to be one of the premier events to gage the latest trends in disruptive health IT, particularly related to consumer health and patient engagement. We discuss our perspectives on the keynote session highlights, conference themes, developer challenge, analyst selected companies of interest from the conference, and final thoughts related to key questions raised from the event.
What is Health 2.0?
We attended the Health 2.0 7th Annual Fall Conference held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in early October. This meeting is held every fall in the San Francisco area and is considered to be one of the premier events to gage the latest trends in disruptive health IT, particularly related to consumer health and patient engagement. The conference was put on by Health 2.0 (www.health2con.com), a San Francisco-based organization that provides events and media services designed to showcase innovative companies, technologies, and thought leaders focused on shaking up the status quo in healthcare. It also runs the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge, a platform for connecting healthcare organizations to health technology developers, operating a media channel (www.health2news.com), and providing market intelligence services, among other things. Health 2.0’s various conferences, developer challenges, and live code-a-thons have a global reach, extending across major US cities as well as Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and India. The organization was founded by Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, M.D., in 2007. Holt serves as co-chairman of Health 2.0. His background includes more than 20 years in healthcare and healthcare IT market research and strategy consulting, and he is also the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog (http://thehealthcareblog.com), a highly influential and popular blog that features contributions from leading figures across the healthcare industry. The blog launched in 2003 and currently attracts about 50,000 visitors a month. Indu Subaiya, Health 2.0’s co-chairman and CEO, is a physician who also has a background in strategy consulting and business. The Health 2.0 enterprise has become a powerhouse in the world of health IT start-ups. According to its website, the organization has introduced more than 500 technology companies to the world stage, hosted more than 11,000 attendees at its conferences and code-a-thons, and awarded over $5,277,000 in prizes through its developer challenge program. In addition, it has inspired the formation of 70 new chapters in cities around the world.
Event Demographics - Global Constituents Focused on Disruption
The Health 2.0 Fall Conference featured 700 attendees, 250 speakers, and approximately 3,000 associated companies. Kaiser Permanente was the key sponsor for the event and was joined by a generous roster of global corporate sponsors, including large commercial healthcare payers (Cigna, Aetna, and United Healthcare), non-profit organizations (California Healthcare Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Knight Foundation), numerous established and emerging health IT vendors, and provider organizations. The majority of IT vendors were smaller start-ups, mostly focused on wellness and consumer health apps. We also saw a lot of vendors offering various tools for care coordination and population health management. The presence of Allscripts and athenahealth was notable as most of the large, established, “mainstream” health IT vendors were not in attendance at Health 2.0 as sponsors or exhibitors. Retail giants Walgreens and Target had a noticeable presence—the Target logo was actually displayed on the event bag. Health 2.0 has a broad global reach so there was good representation from global companies. Of note was a 70-person delegation from Finland (Team Finland) promoting the message that “Finland is the hottest spot in Europe for health and wellness innovations.” Another interesting global participant was Tim Kelsey, national director for Patients and Information for the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS). Kelsey, who emphasized the fact that the NHS spends $100 billion on healthcare per year, was promoting the new NHS initiative that seeks to “unleash the power of people” with new IT tools, including patient feedback. Kelsey said he attended the event to actively solicit relationships and gather information from vendors who want to serve the NHS as they open up data for this new push to engage patients. Vendors take note!
Keynote Highlights - New Political Thinking and Healthcare’s Seven Deadly Sins
Gavin Newsom, the current lieutenant governor of California and former mayor of San Francisco, was the opening keynote speaker for the event. Newsom talked about technology-enabled trend lines that are changing the world, a theme he expounds upon in his new book, Citzenville. The book is about how ordinary citizens can use information technology to bypass political gridlock and invigorate the democratic process. Newsom believes that a new governing philosophy started in the US with the election of Barack Obama, and that this movement will profoundly influence our future. The new thinking, driven by the digital natives, or the generation that is “bathed in bits,” is not top-down. Rather, today, online, grassroots communities are being leveraged to build coalitions. The new normal will soon be characterized by bottom-up, real-time feedback loops, crowd sourcing, cloud computing, social mobile, and social everything. In addition, our hyper-connected world and exponential data is leading to the advent of personalized, customized data across all endeavors. All this is going to change not only the political system, but also the way people interact with their healthcare system. In this new environment, citizens are not going to wait for Washington to act, but rather will focus on local venues and resources where, Newsom claims, remarkable things are already happening. Of note, Newsom’s comments were given one day prior to the recent US government shutdown and were thus particularly timely.
Indu Subaiya offered a sober look the reality of the US healthcare system in her talk about the “Seven Deadly Sins” or, as she says, “why I want to run for the hills.” The theme of this talk was Subaiya’s frustrations about the level of dysfunction that exists across several healthcare dimensions. She defines the Seven Deadly Sins as:
• Too much testing due to dysfunctional referral patterns and perverse incentives;
• Hospital bills and prices that are too confusing and have too many variables;
• Bossy intermediaries between payers and employers that inhibit effective bargaining and price transparency;
• Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are very confusing and hoard information on comparative prices for drugs so employers cannot negotiate for the best deal;
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