Rock Health Summit, one of the tent pole conferences for the digital health startup universe, is being held this week. Here are some of the sessions that you won’t want to miss:

1. Anne Wojcicki, Co-founder & CEO of 23andMe, interviewed by Kara Swisher (Moderator), Editor at Large at Recode; Host of Recode Decode Podcast: The last six months have brought to the forefront what has been a theoretical byproduct of the pioneering work done by consumer genome sequencing companies – a real and permanent loss of privacy for those who aren’t users of the technology, but their close relatives are. On the positive side, the elusive Golden State Killer was identified and apprehended in April through the results of consumer DNA tests uploaded to GEDmatch. On the other hand, a study released last week says that “60 percent of those with white European ancestry” may be identifiable through commercial DNA profiles held by the company MyHeritage. While Wojcicki has noted in the past that 23andMe’s policies do not allow for the type of searches that revealed the identity of the Golden State Killer, laws and policies can change while DNA is forever. I’m very interested in the directions the dogged Swisher will take this discussion. (Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 2:15 p.m.)

2. Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman & CEO of Kaiser Permanente, interviewed by Elisabeth Rosenthal, MD (Moderator), Editor-in-Chief at Kaiser Health News: Rosenthal, who recently published a book documenting the evolution of America’s for profit health care system, will be an expert guide as she quizzes Tyson on how technology can improve our health care system. We can expect her to be informed and appropriately skeptical of any claims that exceed what’s reasonable. I’m interested to hear what gains the leader of what might be the most influential health system in the country says technology will bring us – especially those that can be rolled out to the millions of Kaiser members. (Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 4:45 p.m.)

3. Mario Schlosser, Co-founder & CEO of Oscar Health, interviewed by Megan Zweig (Moderator), Director of Research at Rock Health: To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Oscar Health’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. I worked at a payer for 5 years earlier this decade, and the view of Oscar Health vacillated between skepticism and curiosity. There was never alarm. Fast forward to 2018, Oscar has reported its first quarterly profit and raised another $165 million. It’s built a claims system from scratch and has a legitimate pathway to success. While it’s hit its share of potholes along the way, this session by Oscar Health’s CEO is bound to be enlightening. (Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 10:05 a.m.)

4. Karen DeSalvo, MD, Former Acting Assistant Secretary at HHS & Professor at Dell Medical School, interviewed by Farzad Mostashari, MD (Moderator), Co-founder & CEO of Aledade: In a rare situation where the moderator may be as interesting as the featured guest, this session on how Washington D.C. affects the start up space will inject a dose of realism into the digital health discussion. With public funds accounting for more than 70 percent of healthcare expenditures in California (per an analysis by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research) and 45 percent of health care expenditures being paid directly by state and federal tax dollars on Medicare, Medicaid and programs for low-income children, what government thinks and how it will reimburse has never been more important. While neither speaker has worked for the current administration beyond the transition period, their views and knowledge of the inner workings of the federal government will prove valuable. (Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 11:40 a.m.)

5. Toby Cosgrove, MD, Executive Advisor at Google Cloud & Former President & CEO at the Cleveland Clinic, interviewed by Christina Farr (Moderator), Reporter for I’m excited about this session for two reasons. First, no digital health reporter has as fine-tuned a BS-detector as Farr, so you know that any session she’s involved with won’t just be filled with fact-free hype. Second, many times tech companies fail at entering the health space because they don’t take an interdisciplinary approach. Engineers without a medical background (or even worse, marketers) run the show without the necessary input of those with domain expertise. Google is taking a mature approach and includes experienced medical practitioners and administrators to its ranks. I’m especially interested in hearing what Dr. Cosgrove says about Google using its cloud to democratize AI and how it intends to protect medical records in light of the recently-revealed bug in Google+ that exposed private data to app developers. (Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 4:10 p.m.)

Agree or disagree with this list, Rock Health should be another great event this year. If you plan on attending and want to meet up to share your favorite sessions, you can contact me on twitter @DarrelNg or via email at

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