CommonSense Blog

#JPM16: The Must-Attend Conference for Any Digital Health Company

By Rob Cronin | Jan 11, 2016

If you’re a technology and digital health nut like me, you’ve probably already picked up on the fact that the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference has become a must-attend event for digital health companies and companies otherwise focused on digital health.

What’s that you say – JPM is for investors focused on biotech? That, my friends, is an accurate statement to be sure… but oh so incomplete.

For while the preponderance of presenters at #JPM16 are still biotech- and life sciences-related, the online conversation surrounding #JPM16 (which my colleagues and I track and analyze very closely), is showing only a slight lead for #biotech vs #digitalhealth. A leading indicator? Perhaps. Watch this blog for our post-conference analysis of #JPM16 happenings and conversation trends.

I Heart #digitalhealth – So Where Should I Go This Week?

Now, for those of you who may just be getting into the digital health game or have never been to JPM, you should absolutely start by attending the conference sessions. There are numerous digital health companies presenting this year and healthcare companies who will otherwise be articulating a digital health strategy. But there is life beyond the St. Francis, my friends! Luckily, you have your faithful narrator to guide you. Here is a list of events you need to consider (and possibly sneak your way into).

Rock Health’s Top 50 in Digital Health (Sunday evening) – Halle & Co do an amazing job not only investing in and advising digital health startups, but they are prolific publishers, marketers and advocates. To wit: Sunday’s event to recognize some of the most important peeps in digital health. Rock on, Halle!

W2O Group’s DH VIP Luncheon (Monday at Noon) – Pardon the shameless plug, but I’d like to think that me and the firm play a part in all this digital health goodness. Historically speaking, W2O Group has been a major presence at JPM since our founder Jim Weiss first hung out the shingle in 2001. Since then, our focus has expanded beyond biotech and life sciences to tech and digital health.

That’s where I come in… Jim allows me to hold a lunch that brings together a very unique set of digital health stakeholders (companies, providers, payers, press, investors, policymakers – you name it). This diversity ensures an intriguing discussion, a valuable networking opportunity and a fun way to kick off the week. This year, we will feature a panel moderated by none other than athenahealth CEO and co-founder Jonathan Bush. Jonathan will be joined by the experts below who we are just thrilled to host. We look forward to seeing many of you there! (Follow live via Periscope here.)

  • Michael Blum, Chief Medical Information Officer at UCSF & Director of the Center for Digital Health Innovation
  • Paul Markovich, CEO of CA Blue Shield
  • Aman Bhandari, Executive Director of Data Science and Insights at Merck
  • Susannah Fox, CTO at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

JPM DH Panel (Monday at 5PM) – You may or may not know Dan Wilson, but he is one of the main reasons JPM is focusing more and more on digital health. Dan and his colleagues originated the annual digital health panel discussion at JPM as a way of shining a light on some truly innovative companies – companies not in biotech or life sciences, but technology companies focused on solving problems in healthcare. This year’s panel – led by the incomparable Lisa Suennen (aka @VentureValkyrie) – is entitled: “Can Data Deliver Us from Our Healthcare Dilemma?” It will feature yet another bumper crop of innovators, including Grand Rounds, Syapse, Evidation Health, Aledade and HealthReveal. And remember to get there early – last year’s digital health panel was SRO!

StartUp Health Festival (Monday-Tuesday) – Steve Krein, Unity Stoakes and the gang at StartUp Health have been evangelizing digital health for years. Though headquartered in New York City, they are committed to supporting and accelerating the growth of startups – what they call “transformers” — the world over. I am a huge fan of their research reports and their ability to attract experts from a variety of fields to advise and assist their transformers. The runaway success of their past efforts at JPM led them to create a two day program for #JPM16.

Venrock’s 5th Annual Healthcare IT Celebration (Tuesday evening) – Venrock has compiled a distinguished track record amongst many successful VCs in digital health. Bryan Roberts and Bob Kocher lead the digital health investment strategy at the firm and, in their spare time, regularly speak and publish as top industry thought leaders. If you don’t have a ticket already, chances are slim you can get one. But, hey it’s always worth a shot…see how many degrees of separation you are from Bryan or Bob on LinkedIn…they are so connected that you will probably find somebody to introduce you.

Health 2.0 Winter Tech (Wednesday) – For Health 2.0 fans who can’t get enough of a fix in October, founder Matthew Holt created a cold weather version. I’m a fan of everything Matthew does, including his dancing. Seriously, anything that Matthew and his partner Indu Subaiya put together is worthwhile. In this case, they seized upon the idea that attendees at JPM want even more digital health investment talk. And they were right. Matthew and Indu know all the smart VCs. They do a great job at curating them, along with startups and more.

UCSF Informed Health (Thursday) – Our friends at UCSF anchor the week with their very own gathering of digital health experts. The agenda features many experts at UCSF and from provider-land writ large as well as technology leaders from some of Silicon Valley’s leading companies. Dr. Michael Blum and Dr. Aenor Sawyer have combined efforts to create yet another high quality program that underscores UCSF’s leadership in digital health.

Who to Follow

Here are several folks that I regularly follow and who can be relied upon to keep you in the know when it comes to digital health and #JPM16. (Note: For the purposes of this list, I am excluding my many friends in the media as I love them all dearly and would not want to show favoritism. Funny, I say the same thing to my children. I hope you believe me, as they do.

Rasu Shresta – How could he possibly have time to be as active as he is on social media? Well, there’s a reason Dr. Shresta is the chief innovation officer at UPMC… and I’m not. Follow him and you will learn all you need to know about real innovation happening at UPMC and beyond. He is a one-man curator of the most important developments in digital health news.

Lisa SuennenI mentioned Lisa earlier as the moderator of this year’s digital health panel at JPM. Formerly with Psilos where she led the VCs digital health investing, Lisa was one of the first VCs to really focus on digital health. Her experience and deep knowledge make her the perfect filter of what’s meaningful and what’s fluff.

Cris De Lucaalthough new to JPM, Cris is no stranger to digital health. As one of the primary movers and shakers behind J&J’s digital health efforts, Cris is prolific on social media and my early choice as “Top Newcomer” to JPM.

Brian Ahier – Brian is one of the best curators of digital health content on the planet and he’s probably been at it the longest. He is a must-follow to keep abreast of many digital health topics and conversations.

Hope that’s helpful. Tweet me at @robcroninNY and let me know what your best experiences are this week at #JPM16.