The sun (finally) shines upon SXSWh

Joe Doyle

HCB Health

The first three days of South by Southwest (“South By”) were a whirlwind of education, elbow-rubbing, detailing and parties. But the weather was uncharacteristically wet and foggy. When that changed, lots of pale skin began making an appearance on the streets.

Austin is a hub of innovation and creative thought and South By takes it to the next level. Our liberal hamlet seems to swell to capacity with talented innovators, entrepreneurs and key opinion leaders.

Figure 1: There’s no need to buy anything at SXSW – whatever you need, somebody is sponsoring it.

The 2012 South By Southwest Health (SXSWh) sessions were hit or miss this year. It was important to have a glass-half-full approach to scheduling as well as a back-up plan. Especially with the 10 block walk from the main convention center.

“Here’s a look at key SXSWh sessions on days one through three”

Here’s a look at key SXSWh sessions on days one through three. I went to most sessions, only skipping out to attend some of the amazing classes on UX, social, web development and outreach strategy being offered.

Saturday, March 10th

Crowdsourcing a revolution – can we fix healthcare?

#SXprizes

Panelists – Aman Bhandari, Indu Subaiya, Jeffrey Davis, Eileen Bartholomew, Cristin Dorgelo

I love the idea of agile approaches in web development. Forced deadlines, hackathons and challenges breed innovation in a concise amount of time, and the results are often amazing. I thank this panel for the idea of faster movement in healthcare technology and modernization, a premise that everyone from pharma rep to physicians alike can agree upon.

Social media cures cancer and speaks for survivors

#mediacures

Speaker – Doug Ulman

I’m a cyclist and LIVESTRONG fan boy for many reasons, so I was happy to hear this speech from the organization’s CEO. He pinpointed LIVESTRONG’s two major strengths:

1. Direct service to people with cancer, and

2. Advocacy and grassroots mobilization.

He also spoke to democratized philanthropy – micro-donations work for LIVESTRONG and other health-based charities, too.

Figure 2: Lance Armstrong looks on from the screen as Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG CEO, addresses the crowd.

Sunday, March 11

Friending pharma: patients, industry &amp, new media

#FrndPhrm

Panelists – Alicia Staley, Allison Blass, Brian Reid, Kerri Sparling, Michele Polz

This was an uplifting session. Panelists discussed pharma being more human and humble and how valuable pharmacists are as our last defense. Pharma marketing isn’t just about the campaign, it aligns with business objectives and values that affect a patient’s whole life.

“Panelists discussed pharma being more human and humble and how valuable pharmacists are as our last defense”

Warning: are online reviews bad for your health?

#DrReview

Panelists – Cindy Cohn, Jeffrey Segal, Dr. Keely Kolmes, Vince Solitto

Excellent debate on healthcare social media and the physicians and patients who participate. Yelp was started because the founder wanted to find a good doctor. I think doctors need to embrace criticism and alter their service if they receive bad marks.

iH3 – interactive health happy hour

#iH3

Presented by HCB Health and HealthTap

I’m biased as this party was my creation, so I’ll let social media do the speaking: “#iH3: one of the best events I’ve been to at #SXSW yet” (@judywang). Altogether, nearly 1,000 healthcare innovators came through the doors to race big wheel bikes, dance for Flipbooks and enjoy local food and drink with the best city views in town. Check it out here.

Monday, March 12

“Pharma marketing isn’t just about the campaign, it aligns with business objectives and values that affect a patient’s whole life.”

The future of digital health

#digihealth

Panelists – Halle Tecco, Dr. Jeffrey Pollard, Linda Avey, Rebecca Woodcock, Ryan Panchadsaram

This panel came across a little like a recruiting environment to get entrepreneurs (who can wrangle big health data) to consider health apps as a life choice. It was encouraging and tended to repeat some content heard at the fest last year. Start a movement – follow your doctor on social media.

text4baby: the power of public-private partnership

#text4baby

Panelists – Paul Meyer, Jennifer Benz, Sarah Ingersoll, Kimberly Bassett

Text4Baby is an amazing tool inspired by lower-income moms who prefer simple text messages over email. In many locations, expectant moms use mobile phones and don’t own a computer. I enjoyed this session for the smart mixing of technology and user. Also quite nice to see a pharma / OTC company support a great educational resource (good on you, Johnson &amp, Johnson).

Figure 3: One presenter Skypeing into the Text4baby session

“Also quite nice to see a pharma / OTC company support a great educational resource (good on you, Johnson &amp, Johnson).”

Help My Avatar is Sick

#swavatarsick

Panelists – Dr. Nina Fefferman, Erin Edgerton, Jim Bower, Ben Sawyer

I learned here that 70-year-olds will use online gaming to help promote health awareness and communicate with their health plan. For instance, Humana uses it’s game website Humanaville to help Medicare members find out more about health and wellness through social game interactions.

Tonight (Monday) will hold even more networking events and free dinners. Live music seems to be the main draw for the heavy hitter general agencies who are recruiting talent and clients as well.

Next: A summary of Tuesday’s healthcare panels, which concluded that part of the festival. Then the music started, and that’s a story for another type of blog.

Part 2 of this article will be published next week.

About the author:

Joe Doyle is interactive director at HCB Health, one of the top 25 independent healthcare communications agencies in the U.S. HCB is headquartered in Austin, Texas, which is the site of South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual global music, movie and digital festival which last year introduced a healthcare track to its interactive programming. Joe has been active in SXSW for years, as a speaker, promoter and fan.

What were your favourite sessions at #SXSWh?