Day 1 of the Converge Conference was a lesson in gaining inspiration from unlikely sources, with experts urging us to step outside of healthcare and see what we can learn. This theme seemed to be repeated by all but was especially poignant with the first two speakers: President of Thomas Jefferson University and its hospital system Stephen Klasko, who is both a MD and MBA, pointed out that we’ve been struggling with the same major issues in health since he started out in the 70s (high prices, disorganization) and so Jefferson has made it a point to partner with non-health organizations for a new approach, including Southwest Airlines and TELEOS. His major vision includes taking the hospital outside its physical space and enabling patients to be seen by kiosk or video. The second speaker who is taking healthcare outside of its comfort zone is Andrea Ippolito, co-lead of MIT Hacking Medicine and a current Ph.D. candidate at MIT. The hackathons Andrea leads (she defines hacking as solving gnarly complex problems in tight timeframes on pizza money) begin by throwing out inhibitions and focusing all mental energy at the problem at hand, but in an incredibly regimented way that ensures all stakeholders are heard, and works all the way through to the solution’s potential business model.
This was also a conference where the exhibitors were made up mostly of startups, and you can see photos and descriptions of some of the hottest on our Facebook and Instagram feeds – I’ll be adding more today because I didn’t get to them all.
Wearables was also a very hot topic, with Google’s Head of Industry for Health Kat Akbari announcing their partnership with Novartis/Alcon on their much anticipated glucose monitoring contact lens. The wearables panel, which featured startup Movable as well as experts from Covidien and AstraZeneca, focused on how wearables could be the key to better health outcomes and adherence but most include four essential elements: accuracy, pairing clinical info with environmental context, truly wearable, data management (adherence issues aren’t just for medication – wearables are experiencing their own, with new studies showing 1 in 3 fitness trackers have stopped using them). Also yesterday fitbit announced its (also much-anticipated) new Tory Burch designs, available for sale now.
I’ll be tweeting live again today with the hashtag #mcCONVERGE, where you can see all of yesterday’s takeaways. Email or DM me you have a question you want me to ask at the conference. You can also see deep coverage via conference organizer MedCityNews.
-Carly Kuper, VP, Strategic Marketing & Corporate Communications
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