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.