HEALTH 2.0 ANNUAL CONFERENCE | SAN FRANCISCO, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2020
By Heather Munro, freelance writer focusing on emerging technology.
The 2019 Health 2.0 Annual Conference is returning to its disruptive roots. It’s a fitting full-circle moment for the conference, which got its start in the Bay Area in 2006. Back then, Apple was debuting its first iPhone, Twitter was in its infancy, and Google was gaining traction with it’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search engine.
At the time, Silicon Valley was also in the midst of rebounding from the dot.com bubble and a recent recession. Against this uncertain backdrop, Indu Subaiya, a physician who chose business school over completing her residency, and Matthew Holt, the creator of The Healthcare Blog, met and recognized a market need to explore how new technology could transform healthcare delivery.
The two quickly decided to hold a meeting of the minds for the key leaders shaping the future of healthcare. Dubbed Health 2.0, the meeting brought health tech innovators together to do something other conferences of the time did not: Give a voice to people outside of the healthcare industry and empower them to change healthcare for the better. (Disrupt wasn’t yet part of the lexicon, but it soon would be.)
The gathering quickly garnered steam, with the event selling out. The first Health 2.0 Conference featured companies like Organized Wisdom, PatientsLikeMe and Sermo. It wasn’t long afterwards that Health 2.0 the Conference became Health 2.0 the enterprise, with the co-founders incorporating the company in 2007.
“Since the beginning, we’ve featured the early-stage technology that most or very few people had heard of,” Subaiya explains. “We recognized a need to provide intimate access to the upcoming trends shaping the future of healthcare.”
Right from the start, the conference was a place for startups to connect. Flash forward twelve years, and the connections keep growing exponentially.
Health 2.0 was all about who was shaking up healthcare, while HIMSS was focused on the more traditional provider-focused solutions. Their two paths merged in 2017 when Health 2.0 was acquired by HIMSS.
“These days, the current tech—sensors, mobile, analytics and the cloud—are connecting all the players like never before,” Subaiya explans. “Everyone from clinicians to providers to patients are clamoring for more connectivity—improved sharing of healthcare data is the tip of the iceberg.”
While the Health 2.0 Annual Conference is known for showcasing cutting-edge health tech—often unveiled for the very first time on the event stage—it also recognized that startups needed a better organized and optimized product pitch experience. In 2018, Health 2.0 launched VentureConnect, a pitch competition for Series A ready startups.
“The products and services may not be ready for prime time, but they’re always an indication of upcoming trends,” Subaiya explains. “In addition to showcasing what’s new, we provide an intimate environment for high-impact networking among startups and investors.”
Even today, empowering consumers, patients, or what you might call the end users of healthcare continues to grow as a critical part of the conference.
The Unacceptables is a popular session that shines a light on companies using technology to help improve or even fix difficult health and social issues. Previous Unacceptables sessions have focused on diversity in the healthcare industry, destigmatizing suicide and using technology to help victims of sexual assault.
Under the HIMSS umbrella, Health 2.0 is even more focused on fostering much-needed health tech innovation. Attracting a new wave of startups and connecting them with the investors and government agencies that can help bring their new ideas and leading-edge products to the larger marketplace, for example.
“The technology is always changing, but one thing remains the same,” explains Subaiya. “The tech you find at Health 2.0 will be something most people haven’t heard of yet—and is on a course to change healthcare for the better.”