Pixels & Pills Talks to Kevin Kruse about ePatient Connections 2010!

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Last year’s ePatient Connections conference was the event of the year, attracting some of the most influential voices in the industry and garnering lots of positive feedback from the attendees. Pixels & Pills sat down with conference leader Kevin Kruse to talk about why we all should be attending this year’s event.

1. ePatient Connections 2009 was a huge success. What are you doing this year to top last year’s conference?

Yeah, last year was our inaugural event and nobody really knew what to expect. It was really nice to get the feedback. Many people said it was the best conference they’ve ever been to but even better are the stories of how it led to a lot of breakthroughs for so many people. Sloan Rachmuth started HEALTHeME partly from a conversation she had with another participant, “e-Patient Dave” has talked about how it opened up the life science community to him in good ways, it even nudged some folks at Boston Scientific to do some social media pilot projects.

This year we’re keeping the short-format talks, the amazing gift bag, and 1-on-1 sessions, but we’re adding three new tracks. Our focus is going to be on Social Media for Health, Mobile Health and Games for Health, which are the three areas where all the innovation is happening. It’s pretty exciting because we’ve got all the biggest names coming from those segments to speak and share their cases.

2. How do you think the discussion has changed since last year? What are some key breakthrough/trends that are affecting the ePatient Community?

Last year the focus was really about the new channels, or new media – how we use Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to reach and engage patients. While there is still a lot of interest on these fundamentals, of course the real power is never in the medium, it’s in the content and relationships. So this year our focus is really on how do you not just connect with e-patients, but how do you connect in a way that leads them to take action. How do you spark healthy behavior change.

To this end, we think an underutilized secret weapon is story-telling. We are often moved by other people’s stories, our emotions fire up when we hear stories more than facts. So this is an unofficial theme for this year. We’ve got Dr. Vic Stretcher coming to share some of his latest research in this area. We have Novartis coming to show how they used the power of storytelling, in film, to engage the Cystic Fibrosis community. And we have people like Dave deBronkart and CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen coming to share their personal stories of becoming empowered patients, and they’ll be autographing copies of their books, which in turn will hopefully motivate others.

3. Can you explain some key features of Innovation Island and what you hope to achieve through it?

Well, our goal for e-Patient Connections is to make it “a community not a conference, an experience not an event.” One person who attended last year said that it was more like a Broadway play than a conference which I take as a compliment!

With Innovation Island our goal is to people actually play with all the cool technology that’s out there, and in some cases, talk to the people who actually invented it. This is where you come to see the future and begin to figure out how you might use it today to advance your own business goals. We’re going to have David Rose from Vitality showing off his digital pill bottle cap that a recent study shows leads to 98% medication adherence–people should be crawling all over that! We’ll also let people play with iPad health apps, hacked Wii boards for health games, augmented reality and QR codes and lot more.

4. What sessions or workshops are you looking forward to the most?

Wow, that’s tough, and I don’t want to play favorites! [laughs] I think the keynote lineup is absolutely gold. Vic Strecher is a giant in his field so I’m really psyched to hear him present, the Novartis “Becoming Christopher” project is one of the most creative things I’ve seen in a long time, and Margaret Morris from Intel Digital Health Labs will be sharing her social and mobile research that hasn’t even been published yet which is cool. Oh, and it’s huge that we have the FDA DDMAC coming to present as well, I think everyone will be on the edge of their seats and taking notes for that one.

5. Pecha Kucha is a pretty interesting challenge – can you give us a sneak peek on what to expect?

I’m glad I don’t have to do one! This is where you have to do your presentation in exactly 20 slides, with 20 seconds for each slide. The slides actually auto advance so ready or not you need to keep it moving. Last year this segment was clearly a crowd favorite.

This year we have Lisa Emrich, who is a patient blogger and has been active in online communities since ’97. Jeanne Barnett runs CysticFibrosis.com and will talk about the patient journey using a Wizard of Oz metaphor, which will be really cool. And Jonathan Richman and Kurt Mueller – two of the smartest guys in this space – will also be doing pecha kucha sessions.

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