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2014 Convergence Summit Summary

View the entire 2014 Convergence Summit Summary here.

The WLSA’s 9th Annual WLSA Convergence Summit took place May 14-16, 2014, at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Diego.  The conference opened with a private session on May 14 for WLSA Members featuring presentations on crowdfunding and investments in connected health.  The general sessions of the conference began on May 15, with brief remarks by Robert McCray, WLSA President & CEO, recounting how far the field of wireless and connected health has come since the first WLSA Convergence Summit in 2006.

The 2014 Summit program consisted of 8 segments of content focused on what is working in connected health today, and what can be learned from these early successes to drive greater success in the future.  Each segment featured a combination of individual speakers, panel discussions, and audience response.

The Curating for Outcomes session focused on the opportunities and challenges posed by the utilization of connected technologies in health care research and new product development.  Speakers Dr. Leroy Hood, President and Co-Founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, and Dr. Steve Steinhubl, Director of Digital Medicine, Scripps Translational Science Institute, described efforts by their respective institutions to develop trials using connected technology, aiming to validate the technologies and also to merge new sources of data to identify early indicators of disease and enable a focus on health care rather than sick care.

A session on the Engaged Health Consumer asked the audience and the panelists to consider what will compel patients to engage in health and wellness activities.  Representatives of several companies in the consumer health space described gaining traction in the market.  In particular, Chris PenroseAT&T, and Jeremy JaunceyTicTracdescribed their partnership, built on the successful integration of social media and social networking with health data and rich, graphical presentation of actionable information which is making every-day health activities more meaningful to users

In conversations on programs being implemented to solve the access and cost problems in health care, panelists described ways in which cost and quality can be managed through a relentless attention to detail and efficiency, and standardizing efforts of remote clinical staff and caregivers.  Panelists also discussed the growth in mobile-based services for disadvantaged communities, and called for diagnostic tests to be more readily available to patients outside of clinical settings.

Brad Thompson, Attorney at Epstein Becker & Green P.C. and head of the Mobile Regulatory Coalition, and Stephanie Zaremba, Sr. Manager of Government and Regulatory affairs at athenahealth, conducted a friendly debate on the merits of recently proposed legislation that would limit the authority of the FDA with respect to certain categories of information technologies, agreeing that current legislation is confusing and challenging for connected health entrepreneurs, but disagreeing over the best pathway for regulatory change.

Panelists representing companies with a spectrum of business models and relationships with end users explored the topic of meeting the needs of consumers in their use of complex health/health care technology in situations where training and support are limited by cost, competition, distance and related factors.    The panelists agreed that distribution is still a barrier to adoption and innovation.  The increasing involvement of employer health programs holds promise for improving engagement, but pharmacies may be the best way to reach seniors and others segments of the population.  This discussion was followed by a similar one on technology in the hospital setting, where panelists agreed that the biggest challenge of selling into hospital systems is proving that their system will save time and money without significantly disrupting existing workflows.  Developing truly inter-operative products and finding a few innovative health systems to partner with for initial trials is a key to success.

On the second afternoon of the Summit, Jeff Arnold, Chairman and CEO of Sharecare, described recently developed consumer health and wellness devices as offering incredible potential to help humans unlock the potential of higher achievement.    His brief keynote was followed by a powerful session highlighting the voices of patients, which included the compelling and diverse personal stories of three individuals who have been compelled to focus on tasks traditionally left to medical and scientific experts in order to improve their own health and manage disease.   Panelists Anna McCollister-SlippKim Goodsell, and  Dr. Ramesh Rao shared their frustration with the lack of access to personal data, and discussed the topics of data ownership, privacy, and patient control.  The panelists agreed that individuals own and should have access to the data produced by their bodies.

The conference closed with a panel on crowdfunding which highlighted the benefits and risks of raising funding from early adopters.  Representatives of crowdfunding success stories Emotiv and Misfit Wearables were joined on stage by four vendors of complementary crowd funding services for individuals or companies with different needs.  While there is uncertainty and even skepticism about the ultimate significance of equity funding, the panelists agreed that the traditional regional angel investor networks may be disrupted by these models, and that there are significant benefits particularly leveraging the marketing power of their early adopter community and engaging with customers to further refine products before entering the mass market.

Also presented at the Summit were the 9th Annual TripleTree iAwards for Connected Health. The 2014 winners were:  Advanced ICU CareAirstrip, and ShapeUp.

For many Convergence Summit attendees, the opportunity for networking with fellow senior executives was the highlight of the event.  Over the course of the three days of the Summit, registered attendees participated in more than 100 Structured Networking meetings with 15 host companies. 36 companies exhibited their products in the Innovators Pavilion, which served as the location for evening networking receptions.  Birds of a Feather tables at lunch, hosted by speakers, allowed the session discussions to continue outside of the conference hall.


View the entire 2014 Convergence Summit Summary here.