You’d be hard pressed to find a marketing and communications network with broader expertise in healthcare than W2O Group. And as a content strategist at W2O, I fully appreciate the regulatory challenges of healthcare marketing.

It’s tough, and we get it. You often can’t mention the drug by name. Or the indication. So we have to figure out how to communicate the brand promise through topics that ARE allowed.

Often, when we’re putting together an editorial calendar or social strategy for clients, we recommend peppering in stories related to healthcare holidays / observances, but Twitter stopped creating their Healthcare Holidays Calendar a couple years ago.

We figured there’s no one more qualified than W2O to release a comprehensive 2017 healthcare holiday calendar. If you’re a W2O client, ask your account team for a personalized calendar, and we’ll happily edit this document down to fit your needs.

For all not-yet-clients*, enter a tiny bit of info to grab yours right now.

Please leave this field empty.

* P.S. – why aren’t we working together? Contact us to talk about your marcomms needs.


On April 22, scientists of all stripes will march in Washington, DC and at least 395 other cities in the United States and beyond to support “robustly funded and publicly communicated science.” Many of our W2O Group colleagues plan to take part, raising visibility and bringing attention to an extensive list of pro-science causes.

Those participating are looking to generate meaningful change. Ultimately, what makes a movement a movement is not gathering a single crowd in a single location at a single time, but rather a long-term commitment and extended attention to an issue. Passion may be a necessary element of social change, but scientists can go further to ensure that the magic of April 22—Earth Day—doesn’t fade once the port-a-potties are removed from the National Mall.  In light of the recent proposed federal fiscal budget that outlines massive cuts to science-focused agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), even more people may want to want to join the March and show their support.

As a communications firm, we at W2O Group wanted to share some recommendations for those participating to amp up their commitment through communications. Here are five ways to start:

  1. Jot down a quick “elevator speech” to explain why you’re marching. Everyone who takes part has a different reason for marching, and it is critical that you can define yours in a soundbite. It’s not that soundbites are important unto themselves. Rather, that boiling down your rationale into a specific, action-oriented 10-second summary will help you—and those around you—grasp the issues, the stakes, and—most importantly—what comes next.
  2. Alert your media. While the March for Science, like other such mass gatherings, will draw the national press, you undoubtedly have smaller media outlet that are important to you and may be able to tell your story with more fidelity. In some cases, this will be your local media (especially outside of Washington). For others, it will be trade publications that cover your industry or hobbies. Would USA Hockey Magazine be interested in a March story? It sure would, if you’re passionate about the science of concussions and can communicate that to them.
  3. Don’t just get social. Stay social. Much of the march organization is being done over social media: Twitter handles, Facebook pages and other tools. It’s critical that those resources be used not only to get people into the streets, but to organize them after the fact. If the Facebook group for a local march goes dormant on April 23, any nascent movements will die in their cradle. This is an opportunity not only to march, but to find and grow new relationships for the future. So talk to the march organizers, and ask them who will maintain the channels. If they don’t know: volunteer.
  4. Think local. While federal policy around science is incredibly important, the rubber meets the road in local communities. Define for your neighbors and your elected officials—especially those at the city level—how more science and more scientific literacy will your locality to a better future. That’s likely to have the biggest and most immediate impact – especially with your local media and within your social networks.
  5. Plan for the long term. It doesn’t matter if there are a million marchers on April 22. It doesn’t matter if there are 10 million marchers. The way we view and value science isn’t going to change in a day. So we need to do the things that will change public perception of science for generations. The best place to start: your local public school. Regardless of whether you’re a professional scientist, volunteer your scientific know-how for an hour a week. Make sure that the generation to come is the most scientifically literate, the most evidence-based, the most skeptical and rigorous group of citizen’s we’ve produced.

None of these steps are easy. Some require deeper thought. Some require a time commitment that will far outstrip anything you may invest on the day of the March for Science itself. Showing commitment, creating the perfect sign and marching on April 22 will be important to raising awareness of the issues facing science today.  But, ultimately, whether the March meets its long-term goals will have less to do with how witty our signs are than how dedicated we are to continuing our commitment to the goals of the march day after day, month after month, year after year.


A cure for cancer has been the most fervent prayer for far too many patients and their families since cancer was identified as a deadly foe many centuries ago. It remains a holy grail of modern medicine, and researchers and physicians around the world are working day and night to conquer it.

But are we thinking about curing cancer in the right way? Cancer isn’t one disease, and in fact, no two cancers are alike. The biological diversity within single tumors themselves is staggering. In fact, it’s very unlikely that there will ever be one cure for cancer. But there will be cures.

Scientists, in fact, have made tremendous advances against many types of cancer, like prostate cancer, the most common cancer diagnosis in men worldwide after skin cancer. It affects three million men in the U.S. and 14 million worldwide. Diagnosis and treatment have advanced to the point where many men are able to live long and otherwise healthy lives when the cancer is diagnosed early. Despite these significant advances in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer, it takes far too many lives: a man dies of the disease in the U.S. every 20 minutes. About 1 man in 39 will eventually die of prostate cancer.

But researchers are closing in on developing a variety of curative approaches – fueled by a powerful driving force in the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). Founded 23 years ago, PCF funds innovative research and researchers with the potential to make a difference in patients’ lives. Over the past two decades, tremendous advances have been made, driven by PCF’s ability to deliver resources to top scientists and cut through red tape. A multi-pronged approach to curing almost all types of prostate cancer is now within sight of the very scientists PCF is funding.

PCF has already helped advance six medicines that are now available and extending the lives of men living with advanced disease. Research largely funded by PCF has identified 19 prostate cancer genes and make strides each day in developing precision treatments to target these genes. PCF’s goal is to have a range of therapies available that, if used in combination, would dramatically reduce the number of prostate cancer deaths within five years and, quite possibly, in other cancers as well. To get there, PCF has launched Many vs Cancer, a national crowdfunding initiative, aimed at using strength in numbers to power the urgent research needed to fund life-extending, life-saving, curative therapies for prostate cancer.

And we at W2O Group want to be a part of this remarkable effort. Our experience and passion for communicating the best in science and medicine has put us in a position where we believe we can effectively amplify PCF’s mission.

We are proud to have been chosen recently by PCF as their communications agency of record, and are thrilled to support our new colleagues at PCF. But we wanted to do even more, because we see that the goal is within sight: we see the future advances that will help patients live longer and longer.

To that end, we are making a donation of pro-bono staff time to extend the reach of the important work we will be doing together with PCF. We’re excited to be a part of PCF’s efforts to go that last mile for the all too many men and their families being devastated by prostate cancer, and encourage others to join the Many Versus Cancer movement or donate to support these breakthrough efforts.  Together, we are hopeful for the elusive cures nearly within reach.

It’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday night at a Silicon Valley law firm. 70 accomplished medtech executives sit in a conference room, doing meditative deep breathing, with their eyes closed. Wait, what?

Strange scene? Yes. Did this actually happen? Yes – at MedtechWomen Bay Area’s March event “The Impact of Chronic Stress on Women’s Health,” part of the organization’s women’s health series. During the evening, we listened to four impressive panelists, led by moderator Donna Petkanics from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, as they talked about how chronic stress affects women’s long term health and how we can more effectively handle the stress that comes our way.

As someone who’s always lived a very full life (rigorous MBA program while working full time? Bring it on!) I’ve always written off stress as a necessary evil of trying to pack as much action as possible into my days. Since I became a parent in 2015, however, I’ve been more acutely aware of the impact living at such a breakneck pace can have on both me and my family. So I was excited to attend this event – and left with three main takeaways:

  1. Stress is necessary – From my perspective, Panelist Rachel Abrams, MD, MHS, ABIHM, from Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine hit the nail on the head when she said “How can we be inside our busy lives in a way that’s joyful?” In fact, stress is a necessary part of living life. Stress that’s “good” can keep us focused and energetic, and may be the push we need to go that extra mile personally and professionally. “Bad” stress, however, can lead to breakdowns and burnout. The blog Precision Nutrition has a link to a great chart on this topic.We need to find the right amount of stress – one that will inspire us, not leave us feeling overwhelmed. For more information on finding your own personal stress “sweet spot,” see the full infographic from Precision Medicine.
  2. Stress can have serious health consequences – Panelist Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., President and CEO of Heartmath, Inc. cited a startling statistic from JAMA Internal Medicine: 60-80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help.[i] So stress is a common cause of emotional and physical symptoms – from the obvious like anxiety, headaches and muscle tension to the less apparent, like digestive disorders and heart disease.[ii] And there’s evidence that women are affected more seriously by stress than men (I’ve got an infographic on that one too – enjoy.)[iii] Thus, learning how to manage stress – not ignoring it or pushing it down to deal with later – is really important to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. We can change how we think about stress – A big topic of conversation throughout the night was around changing our stress response mindset. Perhaps our natural inclination is to panic, and all the associated physiological symptoms get triggered. Or, can pause, regroup (because really, is the world ending?), take some deep breaths and try to calm ourselves down. Both Dr. Rozman and panelist Manuela M. Kogan, MD and Clinical Associate Professor at the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine led the group through some simple breathing exercises that frankly could be done at your desk, on the train, or in a meeting without your boss taking notice.
  4.  During the Q&A session, at the end of the workshop, someone asked the panelists what they would do if they only had a few minutes a day to try to manage stress better. Dr. Abrams commented that every morning, before she gets out of bed, she takes a couple deep breaths, says a few gratitudes and then sets one intention for every day. It helps her feel more prepared for what life throws her. I love this idea, and feels “right sized” for my chaotic life. I’m adding this to my daily routine.

For more information on MedTechWomen, visit



[1] JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(1):76-77.



The last thing a patient expects after being prescribed a legitimate 10-day supply of prescription opioids is to become addicted to them. But as data in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) shows, that 10-day supply quickly turns one in five people into long-term users. The line between legitimate need and abuse is thin and sliding, and is one of the main reasons that the opioid epidemic is one of the greatest public health threats that the U.S. has faced in the last decade.

There are a myriad of initiatives and legislative measures in place to drive awareness and combat prescription painkiller abuse. One of these is through the electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS), which helps to thwart prescription opioid fraud and abuse. There are also the recently released CDC guidelines promoting responsible opioid prescribing practices. But perhaps one of the more underrated and yet incredibly powerful levers that the healthcare industry can pull is by using effective communications.

As we pass the one year anniversary of New York State’s e-prescribing legislation going into effect – which mandates that all prescriptions in NY be prescribed electronically — we asked some of today’s leading digital health communicators to weigh in on the tools they are using to make an impact and help promote strategies to curb opioid abuse.

Kelly Jeffers, vice president of corporate communications at Surescripts, and John Hallock, former vice president of corporate communications at Imprivata, share their perspectives below.


1. What role does communications play in fighting the opioid epidemic? What are some key communications levers that can be pulled?
  There isn’t a silver bullet solution to this epidemic – we need to change policy, we need to change technology and we need to change behavior. Collaboration between multiple stakeholders is key to curbing opioid abuse, and lots of solutions need to be brought to bear to make that happen. Communications is critical to making sense of all of this.

We need to clearly articulate the role that various stakeholders play in addressing the epidemic and prove the value of the solutions available. Given that Surescripts is a network that connects all sides of healthcare, it’s rare that we face an issue that affects everyone and that we hear about from all sides of the network. But reducing opioid abuse is an issue that prescribers, pharmacists, EHR providers and other technology vendors are all concerned about. This highlights two things: how big the issue is to the health of our nation and the fact that that it’s one that can’t be fixed by just one group.

Hallock: Whether it’s by engaging policy makers, media or other key influencers in the industry, there’s no shortage of interest in finding ways to combat this growing problem. Working in concert with companies like Surescripts has been an important part of educating the industry at large to issues around EPCS. Surescripts has built out its e-prescribing network for over a decade and we partnered with them using national, regional and local campaigns to educate the market about the role technology can play to combat this epidemic.

After New York’s I-STOP mandate went into effect in March of 2016, the vendor community needed to step up and help prescribers meet their needs from a technology standpoint – specifically, enable them to securely prescribe controlled substances electronically, which was not an easy task. Keep in mind, many clinicians didn’t even know that EPCS was legal. Along with external communication in the media we also worked with Imprivata’s customers that needed help communicating with their clinicians on how the technology worked and how it streamlined their workflows. We did this through a series of broad-based campaigns targeted at both policy makers and other healthcare leaders, spreading awareness that secure e-prescribing technology existed and could easily be deployed.

Treatment guidelines certainly have their value, but we wanted key stakeholders to know that there was a way to address the issue way upstream, before a prescription goes to the pharmacy. Earned media coverage also granted us the ability to better educate policy makers at the federal and state level as they were formulating various opiate legislation.

How can communications be used to better reach and empower healthcare providers to combat opioid abuse?

Jeffers:  The challenge for prescribers is that they often get blamed for opioid abuse, but they are also the ones at the point of care having to manage it. They realize and recognize the breadth of the issues, but educating them is one thing; getting them comfortable with a change in behavior is another.

Doctors represent a very large population, and the recent media attention on the epidemic may have put them on the defensive. Communications gives them a voice and empowers them to be part of the solution. Once doctors are comfortable with EPCS, we’ve seen that their adoption goes up quickly. Giving them the platform to tell their story is very powerful.

Hallock: I think providers have a certain level of frustration right now. It’s not that they don’t understand the power of these drugs – they are well educated – but they need the right technologies at the point-of-care to better monitor prescribing patterns.

When it comes EPCS, providers and CIOs want to know, how does it work? What are the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) requirements? How can I deploy this technology in conjunction with my existing EHR? Communications, whether via PR campaigns, social media or other forms of marketing, allowed us to educate providers as well as state and federal policy makers to the benefits of this technology. And as we’ve seen through the uptick in EPCS legislation at the state level, once the value of EPCS is realized, providers are proponents of the technology and can make better, more informed decisions, all while reducing fraud, abuse and addressing issues like doctor shopping.

1. What makes social media an increasingly powerful communications tool in fighting opioid abuse?

Jeffers: Social media is accessible, it’s quick and it’s far reaching. It’s a great way to share compelling stories about the impact of the epidemic and raise awareness among a broader audience. For a long time at Surescripts, we thought that doctors weren’t active on Facebook. But we soon realized that simply was not true and have had great success engaging and targeting physicians on the channel. They are talking to each other, talking to influencers, posting videos, writing blogs, sharing news, etc.

Our priority is getting them the right content at the right time. Providers are not our direct customers — they often don’t even know that they are using our technology. So using social to engage with them has given us the opportunity to reach that audience with content that shows how easy it is to enable the technology.

For example,, an educational portal that walks providers through the steps to becoming EPCS enabled, has had great engagement across social. It has been shared through multiple channels on social media, our blog, news media, and industry websites such as CVS Health, Ohio Health Information Partnership, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, and State Boards of Pharmacy.

Hallock: As I have stated, clinicians are extremely intelligent individuals. They are looking to stay ahead when it comes to new technologies, procedures, or various therapeutics that improve outcomes. It’s not an issue of them not wanting to know about new technologies and processes, but it’s a question about leveraging all the channels where they consume information. We found that social media became an extremely effective vehicle for educating the industry to what EPCS was and how it can help in addressing this problem.

Physicians tend to follow what other physicians are doing from a technical standpoint in care delivery — as long as it works. Whether it’s a clinical or management system, if it’s good, they’ll talk to others and adoption starts to spur. We saw this with the adoption of clinical systems like EHRs, and EPCS is no different. Communication and PR is critical to educating and informing them about the benefits of adopting new technologies and protocols.

But using social media or traditional PR or not, no one organization can do it alone, which is why we worked to collaborate with vendor partners like Surescripts and various EHR vendors in terms of integrations and communication efforts. Industry collaboration is so important in addressing this issue — getting providers and hospital staff to better understand their options and showing them that they can make a difference at the point of care, all while meeting DEA regulations and having transparency into any potential fraud. Communications has certainly helped providers be more informed while creating a more efficient system. The technology is mature and ready to address the problem. It’s up to communicators to make sure that message is received and then reinforced.


“We won’t have a world without cancer, but a world where we have rapid detection and eradication,” according to Jeff Hammerbacher, Hammer Labs.

After attending a number of health sessions at South by Southwest in the past week, two key themes emerged around the devastating topic of cancer.

Behavioral changes are the future

“Up to 50 percent of cancers can be prevented; we now have knowledge in terms of prevention and mitigating risks,” said Dr. Ron Depinho, MD Anderson Cancer Center. “We need to stress behavioral changes – smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising.”

Speakers on several different panels noted that while we currently focus on when people get cancer we need to focus on prevention. These experts reiterated that we’ll always have cancer, however we have to find it early and know what works to get rid of it.

The idea of prevention was obvious in a baseball analogy from Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky, “We’re getting to diseases at the ninth inning, but we need to get there in the first or second inning. How can we come up with better vaccines to help prevent these cancers from happening in the first place?”

Using data to generate insights

The second theme was that while there is plenty of data in healthcare, problems persist in sharing it appropriately and using it to generate insights. As Greg Simon from The Biden Foundation stated, referencing the Tower of Babel, “There is data everywhere but there are massive translational problems. Medical information lives and dies where it is created. If we change that we’ll change cancer.”

What is needed is a way to interconnect all the silos of data in medicine. While there was consensus that we need to come together to create a central infrastructure, there was not agreement on how to make it happen, since intraoperability is not beneficial to the individual EMR companies.

“We need an interstate highway of health,” explained Dr. Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School. “The information needs to flow with the patient.” Dr. Johnson also stressed the importance of understanding the workflow of clinicians so that technology can be inserted appropriately. Even former Vice President, Joseph Biden, mentioned this issue in his keynote speech, “The inability to share medical records – it’s a technical problem not a cancer problem.”

Another popular discussion point was utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence to organize this data and identify learnings.

Other interesting takeaways

Adding to the challenge is the fact that healthcare is hyper local and markets are unique.  What works in one hospital may not work in another, so solutions are difficult to scale.

This quote from Dr. Depinho was the most popular of all my tweets: “By 2020 almost all cancer patients will be on immunotherapy.”

Overall, it was great to see health take a much larger role at SXSW.  Here’s to next year!


This year will mark my tenth year of blogging. What started as an online journal to share personal stories and photos of my children quickly, and surprisingly, evolved into a powerful platform for education.

After my youngest child was diagnosed with multiple, life threatening food allergies, I began sharing how we managed the food allergy journey and the epic lifestyle changes it required.

I’m honored to help others with our experiences and serve as an advocate for causes I believe in, some of which have inspired media coverage and real changes in my community.

Recently I led a webinar for WEGO Health during their Health Activist Awards Week. WEGO Health brings together patient advocates to connect with each other and empower them to share their experiences. During the webinar, I shared some inspirational stories of how blogging can make a difference and 10 content ideas to help inspire writers.

The session, Strength in Words: Finding Your Blogspiration, was recorded for future viewing – feel free to watch or share with health bloggers in your network.


“When it comes to building your brand, it’s simply driving the reputation you want,” said Stacy Enxing Seng. “You earn this by sharing characteristics you’re proud of.”

Stacy Enxing Seng, a Venture Partner at Lighstone Ventures, is a self-proclaimed “non-expert” in personal branding but has learned from experience that a successful and fruitful career comes with a combination of your own strength, mentorship and a drive to deliver on the results you want. In essence, “branding” yourself based on your own personal goals and experiences is the best way to differentiate yourself in your workplace.

In an industry full of medtech companies striving to stand out while delivering similar outcomes, it is becoming increasingly important for us as medtech marketers and communications to differentiate ourselves. MedtechWomen’s “Personal Branding and How to Differentiate Yourself in the Workplace” event in Minneapolis last week helped us understand how it is possible to stand out from the crowd. The panel brought more than 50+ industry colleagues together for a night of networking and the opportunity to listen to Stacy Enxing Seng speak in depth about how women can successfully differentiate themselves in the workplace.

As we listened to Enxing Seng speak about personal branding, she explained that many of her own childhood experiences served as life lessons that helped her make decisions and strive be the best she could be. She presented 10 relatable steps to how personal branding can help you accomplish your career goals and stand out from the crowd:

  1. Carpe Diem: Seize the day, and love what you do. Time is fleeting, and you never know what you have left; make it so you can wake up in the morning and feel content with all aspects of your life.
  2. Passing the Dinner Test: The people you work with need to pass the dinner test; you need to want to have dinner with them. You should enjoy the people you work with enough to spend time with them outside of your work setting.
  3. Enjoy the Now, but Know Where You Want to Go: It’s okay to have a little fun, but always keep in mind what your end goal is. It’s your responsibility to know what you want to do in the long run, whether it’s personal or career oriented.
  4. “POR,” or Press on Regardless: No matter what might block your road, it’s important to have a sense of resilience to help you moderate your highs and lows. Place accountability on yourself to make changes or alter your path when things aren’t going as planned.
  5. Performance Carries the Day: At the end of the day, companies need to deliver certain performances. Learn early on how to separate your head and your heart and to not take business decisions personally. Understand what your organization needs and why.
  6. Alignment Drives Balance: There is no such thing as work-life balance; instead there is an alignment of what is important to you. Decide what percentage of your life will be dedicated to each of your values (work, family, personal interests, etc.). If you feel out of alignment, then you’re not achieving the balance you laid out for yourself.
  7. Attitude Determines Altitude: If you can maintain a positive attitude and continue driving it, then you will soar.
  8. You Need to Ask in Order to Receive: If you want something, then ask for it; be bold enough to ask for what you are worth, because a component of why you work is to earn an income that feeds your family and fuels your dreams.
  9. Find Someone to Spend Time with who Encourages your Growth: Whether it is a mentor or a person you admire, find someone who inspires you and drives you to continue succeeding. This could be a colleague, a friend, a spouse, a parent or even a person who gave a great speech or wrote a great book.
  10. Stay Ever-Curious, and be a Continuous Learner: There is always something new to learn, so take advantage of learning opportunities you can get from leaders you’re already working with.

Enxing Seng has used these steps to help her find her way through a career that has brought a vast amount change. After undergoing two acquisitions (ev3 to Covidien to Medtronic), Enxing Seng is no newcomer to adjusting her own trajectory to accommodate for success. She believes that no matter what gets thrown at you, you should always stay in your arena and be your best woman self; whatever it is you want to do, you have the capability of doing it.

Thank you so much to Stacy Enxing Seng and the women that attended the MedTech Women event. Attending these panels help us to quench our curiosity and satisfy our need to always continue learning!

About MedtechWomen: an organization dedicated to highlighting women leaders in the medical technology industry. Its focus is on providing opportunities to come together to discuss constructive solutions to key issues facing the medtech industry today. For more information about MedTech Women, visit


There is nothing like the rush of SXSW in Austin, TX! Every year I am blown away by the innovation, collaboration and depth of talent that comes into town for this iconic festival. Based off this year’s SXSW Interactive schedule 2017 will be packed with incredible sessions surrounding everything from government, VR, sports, journalism, fashion and beyond.

For healthcare professionals it is easy to attend a conference like SX and fall into the temptation of only seeking out panels that directly deal with our industry. However, healthcare is an ever-changing environment which consistently requires leaders to pivot, reinvent and think outside of the box. The beauty of SX is it equips attendees to do just that. Over the duration of SXSW Interactive healthcare pros are granted access to a plethora of industries we usually are not exposed to. Consequently, we benefit from diversity in thought, perspective and solutions that we may have never imagined. This year W2O Group’s healthcare and MDigitalLife teams have sifted through healthcare focused panels and beyond to give you the scoop on our recommended sessions. We hope you add a few to your itinerary!

(Event summaries provided by

March 10, 2017

2016 Election: How We Got it Wrong!


Sam Sanders, NPR Correspondent, will give his first-hand experience covering the 2016 Presidential Election. Sanders will also discuss how NPR, along with other media outlets, led the country to believe the fate of the election was decided when, in fact the American public proved otherwise. Sanders will review the past 18 months of campaign events and rhetoric that led pollsters and the public alike to presume the success or failure of the next Presidential and Congressional Election.

W2O Group’s 7th Annual PreCommerce Summit


The PreCommerce Summit is one of our signature events (one track/one day) and is free to the 350 invite-only attendees. The event consists of a series of brief keynotes, 10-minute TED-like talks mixed with select 20-minute fireside chats and by industry leaders. The focus is on business innovation and spans the health, tech and consumer industries.

Why Aren’t We Shopping for Health Care?


In contrast to our savvy consumer ways in retail, real estate, and travel, most Americans are incredibly passive when it comes to health care, an industry that impacts not only lives but also wallets. Americans spend 16% of their annual income on health care, nearly 26 million Americans don’t take their meds due to cost, and out-of-pocket health care spending continues to rise and put more people in debt. This panel will bring together diverse voices in consumer health care to discuss why people aren’t doing more to research and shop for health care, as well as what’s it going to take – data, engineering, design, policy, or otherwise – to empower people to make better health care decisions.

To Build in Health, Follow the $, Not the Patient


Starting anything new is hard. Especially in healthcare. With a complex, regulated, multi-sided market, traditional experience-led business design can lead to abject, expensive failure. Customer discovery and following the flow of dollars is critical. But not easy. Hear from founders, funders & advisors about business design in healthcare. Examples are drawn from companies that deliver health services, take on financial risk, analyze care & provide data tooling. Learn from panelists’ experiences: hundreds of millions of dollars in venture money raised and spent, millions of users engaged, Presidential-level policy initiatives, and a litany of failures as well.

The Messy Truth with Van Jones


Come and watch Van Jones get messy dissecting social and political issues of the day. Van Jones was a stand out during the 2016 election cycle by speaking authentically, often disagreeing with both Democrats and Republicans alike. Van’s passionate on-air debates with his CNN colleagues and his heartfelt appeals to viewers were chronicled by the New York Times, Variety, Rolling Stone, and many more. Van is currently an on-air commentator for CNN and hosts the CNN special, The Messy Truth, where he builds bridges between people divided in the current political climate. He is also is the President of Dream Corps, a thriving nonprofit that seeks to close the prison doors and open the doors of opportunity. His #LoveArmy has become a broad movement for justice in the Trump era.

March 11, 2017

W2O Group’s 3rd Annual Movers & Shapers


Movers & Shapers is our newest event and takes us back to our early roots of the PreCommerce Summit. With only 150 people in attendance, this event also leverages the 10-minute TED-like talk format with a few select fire side chats.

The Live Impact: Facebook, Periscope & Journalism


At the core of a good journalist is the ability to storytell, usually via the written word or a video package, but the emergence of livestreaming through social media has helped transform how stories are told. Further, everyday citizens are going live to share their perspective and help journalists discover untold stories.

This panel brings together journalists and social media strategists inside the news bubble to discuss the state of the livestreaming union, how it has changed their perspective of covering stories, what it has done collectively for journalism and where it will go next. These experts will also provide best practices for “going Live” and answer your questions.

Interactive Keynote: Jennifer Doudna


Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D is a professor of molecular and cell biology and chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where she holds the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. As a co­inventor of CRISPR­Cas9, a process that revolutionized gene editing, she has received numerous honors including the NSF Waterman Award, the FNIH Lurie Prize, the Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Massry Prize, the Heineken Award, the Gairdner Award, the Nakasone Award, and the L’Oreal­ UNESCO International Prize for Women in Science. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, and she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2015.

Extreme Medicine: Quality Care Anywhere


How would you treat a kidney stone on the way to Mars? What if a climber developed an excruciating headache on Everest? How would you know whether a serious respiratory infection is viral or require antibiotics in a field clinic in Malawi? Providing quality healthcare in extreme environments presents challenges and opportunities. Medical technologies must be portable, minimally invasive, and easy to use and maintain. Devices must be robust and require only low power and consumables. Meds need to be very stable and safe for a long time. Healthcare solutions meeting these high standards have commercial advantages in driving revolutionary care for more traditional settings. By setting the bar high, we are driving border-less innovation in medicine, and creating new business opportunities.

W2O Group’s 8th Annual GeekaCue


This eight-year long tradition started with 50 employees and clients out at local BBQ legend, The Salt Lick and has evolved into a 700-person party. This year’s event will be at the historic Scoot Inn and will feature Terry Black’s BBQ and two amazing bands (to be announced shortly). Oh, there will also be plenty of liquid refreshments and our mainstay photo booth.

SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event: Health & Warables

March 11-12, 2017

Technologies focused on human-centric health applications that connect the “health optimizer” and those with illnesses, their care teams, primary and specialist clinicians, inpatient and outpatient facilities, benefit providers, and corporate wellness programs to share timely, relevant health data and drive better outcomes at affordable and sustainable cost levels.

March 12, 2017

Community Comes First: The New Retail Norm


Put it down to whatever generational developments you like: community experiences are the new product that brands and retailers need to sell. Whilst fashion still matters, the millennial value is positioned on this kind of emotional empowerment – and nothing forms a stronger bond than the sharing of an experience through community. Today’s retail environment is changing what happens instore, and through collected, integrated fashion happenings, brands are building a future retail experience to satisfy the inspired (yet distracted) minds of their key audiences. Effective approaches to this require innovation and insight, and in this session, we’ll consider community from a fashion tech perspective.

Four Walls: Using VR to Drive Social Action


For 83 years, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has restored health, safety, education and well-being to areas of conflict and disaster – issues that outsiders cannot truly understand or feel. For outsiders, this is not their reality. Until now.

The IRC used interactive virtual reality to tell the stories of Syrian refugees in the most realistic manner possible. This session will showcase how the IRC used VR to give the world the most in-person experience possible, revealing the realities of the refugee crisis. Exposing social injustices, sharing why VR matters to solving social issues and discussing how individuals and brands can use tech to prompt action and change.

Personalized Medicine: Trends, Challenges & Future


As “one size fits all” care gives way to treatments based on the patient’s genetic makeup, the possibilities—and potential pitfalls—are enormous. We will see seriously ill people clamor to have their genes edited by powerful, new technologies as more consumers order genome sequencing and biomarker tests to uncover looming health risks. Yet answers to key ethical questions lag about handling potentially devastating information—and paying for it. Our expert panel, including an ethicist, the founder of a pioneering gene editing firm and a direct-to-consumer testing company, discusses the challenges and future potential posed by this new age of personalized medicine.

Health Tech Happy Hour @ SXSW


Cambia Grove, athenahealth & TMCx casual cocktail party and networking night for the healthcare community at SXSW, including 15-20 early-stage companies showcasing their innovative healthcare solutions

March 13, 2017

Digital Discovery: Health Research in Virtual Labs


The future of medicine is being shaped by engineers and data analysts as well as chemists and biologists. With social media and the latest technology (ie biosensors, WiFi and cloud computing), people can participate in medical research remotely and share feedback instantly. Clinicians can get a real-time view of how patients cope with disease and respond to treatments. These insights can accelerate delivery of new medicines that are cost-effective and patient-focused. Join leaders from big pharma and disruptive tech orgs for an interactive discussion on virtual health research. (Spoiler Alert: Bring your iPhones!)

Doctoring Up Your Social Media Advocacy


When activated employees share brand content, organizations see an exponential leap in overall engagement, increased exposure to new audiences, and almost 24 times more shares. But what if your employee audience is constantly mobile, distributed, and providing life-saving care to patients? This panel will reveal key takeaways from physician and employee engagement initiatives taking place at Baylor Scott & White Health and Mayo Clinic and how each leveraged their size and physician influencers to build brand loyalty internally and externally, including how each organization got buy-in from their medical staff and leadership and what tools have been most effective.

Fighting Crime with Data in the US and Abroad


Governments around the globe increasingly are using data and evidence-informed policymaking tools to address public safety; Mexico and Colombia are using the power of data and evidence to promote their criminal justice initiatives, with the strong political support of local leadership. This echoes efforts across the United States in cities big and small. While data-informed policing techniques are increasingly being adopted globally, some critics warn that policymakers must be careful to ensure that data is not used unfairly to target vulnerable populations, such as low-income residents or people of color, ensuring that whole communities don’t suffer for the criminal actions of a few.

It’s Like Uber for Healthcare


We talk about the high costs of healthcare. We talk about patients not taking their medications. We talk about the poor patient outcomes. But these could all be avoided if patients simply had access to on-demand transportation needed to make their doctor’s appointment, show up for a necessary treatment, or pick up their prescription. What happens when we put talk into action? Hear from the teams that are developing the technology to support on-demand healthcare transportation, the doctors whose patients benefit from such services, and the healthcare systems that support them about how something as simple as getting a ride is improving healthcare.

March 14, 2017

Reimagining Death, A Design Challenge & Movement


Dr. BJ Miller’s call to “let death take us, not lack of imagination” reflects a growing hunger to reimagine the personal experience of the end of life. Our final chapter, long the domain of family and spirituality has become shrouded in taboo and medical process. A growing movement to reimagine dying has emerged and was strengthened by the global conversation and collaborative innovation of OpenIDEO’s End of Life Challenge. This panel of diverse co-conspirators – an IDEO visionary, a health system innovation officer, a palliative care physician-agitator, and a health policy guru – discusses how seeing death as a design challenge is giving life to patient-centered movement for better endings.

Making People Accidentally Enjoy Learning


GIFs, cat pictures, memes and 12-word “listicles” dominate the internet landscape, so it would be easy to assume that millennials simply don’t care about learning or reading, but we know conclusively that that isn’t true. Millennials are just as likely to devour a 4,000-word educational piece as they are to look at a funny picture of a dog on a skateboard – they just want to have fun while doing it. This conversation explores the different ways smart content creators across the Internet make learning into a guilty pleasure.

Euthanizing our Global System of ‘Sick Care’


In an era of exploding population growth, chronic illness and new pandemics, our healthcare systems cannot scale, and demands outstrip global resources. But, are we facing a global healthcare crisis or is this an age of unprecedented health-care opportunity? Find out why our current systems of ‘sick care’ fail us and how digital can help scale healthcare for the future. Discover how a human-centered redesign to our healthcare systems can drive new, proactive models of care that mesh better with people’s lives, support physicians and caregivers, reward positive behavior, improve health outcomes and protect human dignity, privacy and security. Part of the IEEE Tech for Humanity Series.