#SXSWh: 5 Days (and a Lifetime) of Health at South by Southwest

Posted by Kate Jurras on Mon, Mar 19, 2012

Ali RH resized 600Guest post by Ali Robbins Hyatt. Ali is a business development manager for Avery Dennison Medical Solutions, a current MITX Up mentor and a past member of the MITX Future Leaders Group. Find her on Twitter!

For the many Bostonites focused on health, I wanted to share some key insights from my days frequenting the now 5 day long health track (2011 was the first year with any health focus) at SXSW in Austin. Although many of the events were in the AT&T Conference Center, a full 2 miles from the main convention area, that didn’t stop the crowds.
Ogilvy notes Ali blog post resized 600In “The Future of Digital Health” panel, Rock Health’s Halle Tecco mentioned the recent stat that the average 24 year old will spend more time on Facebook in one week than they will spend with their doctor in twenty years. A military focused health panel noted that we focus on the 100 minutes a year that a person sees his/her doctor and ignore the other 525K minutes when we could focus on prevention for better health.

Focusing on health for all the many moments when you are not with your clinician was an oft-repeated mantra. I was excited to hear many people talk about applying gamification, social, and big data to solving this health issue.  Namely, these are ideas that we’re all familiar with in other areas of marketing and tech, but we are now going to apply them to health.  Brilliant! Here is a sampling of those themes:

Gamification as an educator and a motivatorAyogo Games discussed games to engage diabetes patients, a completed packed ballroom was riveted by Jane McGonigal’s just launched SuperBetter game about reaching health goals and Humana (yes, the insurer!) discussed launching fitness games. Gamification is not just for the 22 year-old tech devotee.

Social as your holistic health helperHealthtap brings together a network of doctors to crowd-source answers to questions and certain Runkeeper users love tweeting their runs in real-time to tell the world how they’re positively affecting their bodies. Even traditional healthcare and pharma are now taking advantage of people’s desires to get medical insights from their online networks. (And they could probably use some help, social media experts.)

Big data translated into bite-sized actionable insights – It’s all about translating data into meaningful feedback, whether that is the Eatery’s food nutrition feedback from Massive Health, using data to get patients just-in-time care at the Center for Connected Health or utilizing passive and active data for consumers to share mood insights with a doctor through the tools of Ginger.io.

All in all, it’s the same marketing and tech trends we talk about all the time, but these tools are being applied by health providers and healthcare companies alike. Some passionate Boston area health-focused panelists included: Dr Joseph Kvedar of the Partners Center for Connected Health, Dr. Angelo Volandes of Mass General Hospital and ACP Decisions, Jason Jacobs of RunKeeper, Paul Griffiths of Medtouch, David Rose of Vitality/MIT Media Lab and Dr. Anmol Madan and Ryan Panchadsaram of Ginger.io.

If I forgot any Boston people waxing on excitedly about the future of health (there were a LOT of panels going on at once!), let me know. And note that next year the health track will be packing ballrooms in the main convention center.