About 50,000 people are registered this year to attend South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual 10-day digital, music and film event that receives widespread media attention.
SXSW Interactive is a great place to get a look at new technologies and meet creative people from a whole host of industries. Speakers at SXSW have included Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – all in earlier stages of their businesses. While Twitter didn’t launch at SXSW in 2007, it was the first place it received any real attention – or use. Foursquare launched there.
The digital conference and trade show continue to draw some of the most creative people in a whole host of industries who gather in Austin to share ideas on how to use technology to reach more people, enhance performance, change behaviors and revamp old systems and processes.
A couple of years ago, SXSW Interactive started including panels on healthcare and digital technology, and we began attending. It has never failed to provide us with cutting-edge ideas and best practices from other industries that can be adapted for our clients’ programs. Arwen Evans from our Los Angeles office and Sydney Rubin, based in Austin, will be attending this year and will be blogging and tweeting (@cccvitalsigns) from the sessions they find engaging.
Last year, some of the most intriguing ideas came from sessions on game theory, biodesign and low-tech solutions to health issues in emerging markets. So, while Arwen and Sydney will be listening to the buzz at the show and watching the horizon for the most thought-provoking speakers, they’re headed in with the idea of sitting in on at least some of the following sessions:
On Saturday, “StartUp Health, Transforming Healthcare in America” will bring together CEO Jerry Levin with tech guru and health investor Esther Dyson (daughter of futurist Freeman Dyson) and StartUp Health co-founder Steven Krein to discuss the role of entrepreneurs in advancing healthcare.
WIRED magazine editor Thomas Goetz always pulls together interesting panelists, so “The Future of Digital Health” on Monday should produce some thought-provoking insights. Goetz’ guests in the session include industry pioneers from Health Tap, Rock Health, Massive Health and CakeHealth to explore the emerging industry at the intersection of technology and health, and its effect on information access, personalization and patient and physician engagement.
On the last day of the conference, “Let’s Play: Motivate Healthy Behavior Using Games,” should be an interesting conversation about generating patient engagement, education and compliance through online games. Speakers include Dr. Leslie Saxon of the USC Center for Body Computing and Adam Penenberg of Fast Company.
Meanwhile, you never know who they’ll run into or what they’ll be hearing discussed in the corridors between sessions. Our approach to SXSW is that of hunter gatherers – watching out for innovative ideas and digital best practices regardless of the industry to pluck up and bring back for our clients.