What you can’t miss in the 2014 SxSW Health Track

Posted by: in Austin Social Media, Digital Health, Healthcare Insights, Healthcare Technology on March 5, 2014

hornpresentingProfessionally speaking, this is absolutely my favorite time of year. As an Indiana fan, March Madness hasn’t been a big part of my life for a while. And while I’m always excited about baseball’s spring training, that’s not it either. The real reason for my excitement is that South by Southwest‘s Interactive (#SxSW or #SxSWi) conference opens this week. Our team has already posted an amazing resource for finding the best of Austin during SxSW – but for the health innovation junkie, I wanted to go deeper.

I’ve had the honor of being on the advisory board for the conference’s health track for the last 3 years (since it began, actually!) and can say that this year’s sessions promise to be the best we’ve ever seen. It’s always hard to put together a can’t miss list when the entire track is this good, but I can’t help myself … there are a few panels here that look to be really special.


The first is actually not a traditional panel – it’s a workshop, and it looks amazing. It was organized by my friend Andre Blackman – one of the true innovators and passionate advocates in public health- and he brought together an all-star team to tackle one of the most important issues facing our society … how do we make sure that we’re making health innovation available to EVERYBODY?

Minorities and Health Tech: A How-To Workshop

As the title implies, this isn’t going to be a session only to inspire (though it’s certain to do that), it’s also designed to enable action. Because of the unusual format, you actually have to reserve a seat for this one, so please stop reading now, click through the link above, and save yourself a spot. As you may know, many minority communities actually overindex on mobile and on social networks like twitter … but the health ecosystem rarely designs with their specific health needs and realities in mind. This workshop will teach you how. It’s moderated by Alisa Hughley of enBloom Media, and will feature Damon Davis from HHS, Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls CODE, and one of my very favorite people, Dr. Ivor Horn, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC (That’s Ivor doing her thing in the photo above).

Community Building – Better than Chemo

This session will feature one of the great stories in healthcare over the last year – the story of the #BCSM tweetchat. Online health communities aren’t new, and even tweetchats have become de rigeur for healthcare companies and organizations. But #BCSM is the first chat I’ve seen that features so many doctors, patients, healthcare companies and advocates working together for a common cause – to advance breast cancer research & to connect the people who care most passionately about it. The panel will feature all 3 of the founders – Alicia Staley, Jody Schoger and Dr. Deanna Attai, as well as fellow breast cancer survivor Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing.net.

No such thing as TMI in Digital Health

This session will feature 2 folks from a #client of the W2O Group – Kaiser Permanente. I’m particularly excited about this one for a couple of reasons. First, the panel is going to focus on the OTHER side of wearables and health data. We’re going to hear a LOT at this conference about apps, wearables, biosensors and genetic tests that will generate mountains of health data – and that’s wonderful. What almost nobody is talking about, though, is what WE (the patients) and our DOCTORS are actually going to be able to DO with all of that data that’ll help us to be healthier. So the second reason I’m excited is that our dual panelists (Madhu Nutakki, Kaiser Permanente’s Vice President of Digital Technology and Jeff Benabio, MD, one of the leading physician voices online and a strong proponent of leveraging health data to produce better outcomes) are a pair that are uniquely positioned to start putting both sides of this equation together.

Hacking your Life for Better Health

This panel is moderated by Fred Trotter – health data geek extraordinaire and another favorite of mine – and will feature the insights of significant influencers Charles Saunders, MD, CEO of Aetna’s Healthagen, James Mault, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Qualcomm Life* and founder of Healthy Circles, and Michele Polz, AVP of Patient Insights and Analytics at Sanofi US Diabetes*.


Next up: 2 Solo presentations by people who have not only unique and valuable perspectives on their subject, but whom I’ve seen present on more than one occasion – and their ability on the stage is wonderful.

5 Ways Health Decisions Don’t Make Sense – Aimee Roundtree of the University of Houston

Healing Healthcare with UX Design – Abbe Don, VP of User Experience at ePocrates


The Future of Genetics in our Everyday Lives

A special keynote from 23andMe’s Founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki* will definitely be a winner … she’ll undoubtedly be able to share an incredible perspective on how genetic testing is going to work for patients – and in the regulatory environment we’re living in.

What Happens when Health and Tech Meet Up

Panel discussion bringing more interesting perspectives to the table – including the perspective of the investor. Featuring Qualcomm Life’s Jack Yeung, Jenna Rose of Healthbox, Malay Gandhi of Rock Health, and Ted Maidenberg of The Social+Capital Partnership

And not least, a group of Honorable Mentions:

Doctors Offices on their Deathbed

You Got Them To Do What? Behavior Change in Health

Connected Fitness 2.0: Shaping Healthy Behaviors

Smartphones to Healthphones: A Doctor in your Pocket

And one more that I couldn’t resist … because it’s not a healthcare presentation, but I think it sounds fascinating – and impactful on our health! I am a sucker for lifehacking, so I’m planning to attend:

Life Automation for Entrepreneurs

Now it’s YOUR turn! What did I miss? What are YOUR can’t miss panels? Share them in the comments & I’ll add them to this post as the week goes on!

*[NOTE: Sanofi, 23 and Me, Kaiser Permanente and Qualcomm Life are clients of the W2O Group]

By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding, Engaging and Activating Physicians in the Digital Age

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