I liked everything about this conference: great speakers, great topics, useful information.
Jill Gilbert, the producer of the Digital Health Summer Summit’s agenda bio says that she is “a modern day digital alchemist, bringing together expert speakers, cutting-edge topics, the latest trends, and the most engaged audiences. The resulting match of industry leaders, high-tech disrupters, startup, academics and the just-plain curious is always innovative and unique.”
Jill certainly worked her alchemy at the recent 2014 Digital Health Summer Summit held South of Market in San Francisco this June. There were many interesting speakers, many of whom I had a chance to interview on camera at the event (the videos can be seen on The Doctor Weighs In Youtube channel).
Some of my favorites
Some of my favorites were Isaiah Kacyvenski, MC10’s Director of Sports Segment talking about their partnership with Reebok to produce the Checklight – a skullcap with MC10 electronics embedded that is worn under a football helmet to capture head impact data during play. Another fascinating company that was highlighted is Geppetto Avatars. Chief Science and Creative Officer, Mark Stephen Meadows, showed us how the company is building hearts and minds and personalities for avatars and robots (really!). Serial entrepreneur Jeff Arnold described how he is building Sharecare like a healthcare skyscraper (with a little help from his friends, Dr. Oz & Oprah!). He bought the Real Age scoring platform to use as a registration tool – and that is very cool. Welltok and Jiff are two platforms that are aggregating digital health apps and programs and combining them with rewards to help employers engage their employees in health and wellness. Lauri Saft, Director of IBM Watson Ecosystem talked with us on video about partnering with Welltok and opening up its API to all sorts of developers.
Sometimes you’re the bug
The panels were also fascinating, my favorite being a panel of CEOs of failed companies. Even though, startup experts and mentors tell you failure is good, you can learn from your failures they say, no one really wants to talk about them. It’s much more fun to brag about your successes (after the fact). Somehow Jill, with the help of Lisa Suennen (the Venture Valkyrie), was able to get three digital health CEOs to talk about the failures of their companies during a session titled, “Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Sometimes You’re the Bug: Lessons Learned From Broken Businesses.” The CEO’s that participated were David Dickinson, former CEO of Zeo, Rick Lee, Former Founder and CEO of Healthrageous (one of my all time favorite company names)and Zack Lynch, Co-Founder and CEO of HealthRally. Each of these guys shared what happened to their company and what were the lessons they learned. Unsustainable business models or misunderstanding your market, pushed to scale too fast are all potentially controllable reasons why companies fail. Bad timing – launching an expensive product right before the great recession, is just bad luck. This was a terrific session moderated by none other than Lisa herself.
Revenue-the metric of success
So what are success factors for businesses? Anne DeGheest of HealthTech Capital summed it up nicely when she said, in response to a presentation on how much money some digital health companies were raising, that we should not forget that the most important metric of success is revenue. You can count users (we used to call them eyeballs) and you can count investment dollars, but at the end of the day, the most important thing that successful companies do is to make money.
I liked everything about this conference. The location was great although unusual being right next to the entrance to the Bay Bridge. The catered food was healthy and delicious. The conference was well-run – thanks to Jill keeping things on time. But, as I noted above, the best part was the program. Great speakers, great topics, and useful information.
Watch the video interview with Jill:
You can also watch Robin Raskin, CEO of Living in Digital Times (Jill’s boss) discuss trends in digital health: