The two day conference featured tours of industry heavyweights like IDEO and Weight Watchers, a keynote by technology legend Andy Grove, and a whirlwind of fantastic speakers, demos, and informal conversations amidst the increasingly vibrant and diverse digital health community.
Our recap below covers the highlights, and far more detailed and creative commentary can be found via the #HiSum Twitter hashtag.
Day 1: Innovation Tours
Conference-goers trekked across downtown San Francisco for tours of OneMedical, Keas, IDEO, PracticeFusion, Weight Watchers, MedHelp, and Aberdare Ventures. At Weight Watchers it was stunningly obvious that the dynamic female group leaders, all program veterans themselves, are key ingredients in the company’s secret sauce.
They shared the intriguing statistic that members lose 50% more weight if they use both Weight Watchers online and offline services, versus offline services like group meetings alone. Members are also significantly more likely to be adherent if referred by their clinician. The success of syncing online tools with offline emotional support and community suggest a bright future for companies taking a similarly balanced approach, such as chronic disease prevention start up Omada Health.
At IDEO, we experienced their famous “Design Thinking” firsthand amidst a flurry of Post-Its. When IDEO Health and Wellness Director Stacey Chang asked whether any of our healthcare goals and potential solutions were new, I was sheepishly reminded of Beauty Pageant winners fawning for world peace. Yet attaining patient-directed healthcare, transparency in cost and quality, and a culture shift that prioritizes health over the interests of the food industry, remain lofty goals regardless of how long we reach for them.
Day 2: Main Event
Andy Grove, Senior Advisor and Former Chairman of Intel Corporation, kicked off the morning with a keynote that impressed on us all, yet again, what a singular perspective he brings to healthcare, demanding we “free the data” and challenging someone to build a MSRP for healthcare services. After dubbing the healthcare system a “freakosystem”, Dr. Jordan Shlain of Current Health and HealthLoop cautioned that “Dr. Google must be an oncologist, because every time you search, you get cancer.”
Srid Iyengar of AgaMatrix reminded entrepreneurs to look for “the one-two punch”, a business plan that is sustainable now but that can evolve into something more disruptive in the future, while legendary investor Vinod Khosla spiced up the room by demanding we break down “the guilds” in healthcare.
The final panel of the day, Angel Investments in Digital Health, had the always charming investor Esther Dyson reminding many of us why we were at a health tech conference, despite the challenges of innovating in the industry; “I’ve stopped investing in video sharing for rich white guys”.
On that note, we left our seats to join a room jam-packed with entrepreneurs eager to show us their dreams for improving healthcare.