Is There Room in Austin for Digital Health?

By @Spitz

This week’s SXSW gathering in Austin, Texas is without a doubt a centerpiece of the digital health circuit, rounding out the first quarter conference trifecta including the ePharma Summit and HIMSS. Keynotes, brainstorms, and epic networking opportunities abound, with the #sxsw stream pouring in so quickly it’s been difficult to stay on top of all the excitement and ideation.

The SXSW buzz has been building for more than a quarter century, origins going back to staffers of the Austin Chronicle who sought a local alternative to the New York music festival. Since inception in March 1987, the event has grown exponentially in participation and influence, the premier, ultra-cool showcase for launching careers, bands, brands, movies, high tech products, and bold new ideas.

The event has become so diverse and intense, in fact, that John Nosta of Ogilvy CommonHealth asks two important questions in his Forbes column from the front lines: Is the digital health voice being lost in all the white noise? And if SXSW has become too crowded a venue covering too many channels, topics, and opportunities, then which other forum can take its place as the new, focused showcase for digital health?

The time is certainly ripe for such a digital health call-to-arms, as the perfect storm gathers consisting of entrepreneurial enthusiasm, regulatory oversight, third-party distribution and certification, pharma participation, and technological innovation. With moving parts ranging from EHR and CRM integration to biometrics and the quantified self, the channel has only just begun to transform the practice of medicine.

For now, though, we’re eager to see what comes out of Austin this year, with our eyes set on new opportunities from start ups to corporate reinvention. Digital health will always have a place in high profile creative and tech conferences, but a fresh sense of urgency grips the specialty in a way demanding this and other claims to newsworthy mindshare and epic media buzz. When and where? Share your comments, cast your vote!

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Michael Spitz , known most often as just "Spitz," is Editor-in-Chief of the Pixels & Pills and a prollific tweeter, blogger, and article writer, active in digital health across all specialties. Follow him @SpitzStrategy.

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