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Leaders Addressed the Latest Issues, Trends and Tech During W2O Group’s JPM19 Digital Health Luncheon

An impressive array of healthcare experts braved rain, flight delays, and travel headaches to participate in W2O Group’s 5th Annual Digital Health Luncheon, held in partnership with Squire Patton Boggs at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference (JPM19). The luncheon explored new approaches and vexing challenges across healthcare today – from data sharing hurdles to driving behavior change and supporting an aging population.

How critical is data liquidity in healthcare? According to Mona Siddiqui, Chief Data Officer, Immediate Office of the Secretary at HHS, it’s truly healthcare’s gold. “(Our) vision is to have a department that is more evidence-based. Where policy making, decision making and the ways we think about resource allocation are all grounded in data,” she explained.

The first panel after Siddiqui’s keynote, was focused on how healthcare can better enable our aging population. By 2035 the 65+ population will outnumber those who are 18 and under so how can we help America age well? “At the end of the day, the same tech that empowered the internet will be the same technology to empower seniors,” explained Aashima Gupta, Director, Global Healthcare Solutions at Google Cloud. So what trends are making headway in the aging space? According to Wen Dombrowski, MD Chief Convergence Officer at CATALAIZE, empathy, voice user interfaces and self-driving cars are top of mind.

Panelists agreed that it’s all about simplicity for both seniors and their caregivers when it comes to leveraging technology as an enabler. “We have a design problem, not an innovation problem. You don’t want to be cared for, you want to be enabled by technology,” concluded Chetan Parekh, Associate Brand Director & Innovation Portfolio Leader at P&G Ventures.

Another pressing issue that was discussed at the event was best practices for driving behavior change in healthcare. Despite the recent focus in this space, Ben Wanamaker, Head of Consumer Technology and Services at Aetna, believes more must be done. “The health delivery system is not well organized. There are very few standards, as if our brain is not part of our body,” he explained during the second panel. George Savage, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Proteus Digital Health, believes we’re hitting a tipping point, not because people like change, but because as an industry, we have no choice.

Ben Hwang, CEO of Profusa, agreed, noting, “most of the value creation around behavior change in healthcare is in chronic (care). How do we bring health front and center to the individual?” Ashwini Zenooz, MD, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences at Salesforce, believes that to truly make people change, we must focus on making them feel encouraged during every touchpoint of the healthcare experience.

The event concluded with a conversation with Marcus Osborne, Vice President, Health & Wellness Transformation at Walmart. The two discussed Walmart’s new legacy in the healthcare space with Marcus noting, “historically we have not viewed ourselves as a healthcare company. Historically we’ve viewed ourselves as (a company) taking care of people.” This framework of thinking has inspired Walmart’s recent moves in the healthcare space and continues to guide Marcus’ predictions around the future of health as the consumer is made priority number one.

Despite different companies, perspectives and experiences, all speakers seemed to agree that for real change to occur across the healthcare ecosystem, two key things are required:

  • Innovative and easy-to-use technology; and
  • A consumer-first mindset.

For more information on W2O Group’s 5th Annual Digital Health Luncheon, held in partnership Squire Patton Boggs, check out #W2ODH19 via Twitter. Curious what happened last year at the 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon? Check out last year’s recap here.

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Earlier this week, crowds of excited journalists, brand reps and PR folk descended on Las Vegas for the annual celebration of technology and innovation that is CES. We were there, and saw lots of demos, gigantic booths and overwhelming displays; and some unexpected and quirky products. We at W2O looked high and low to find what we think will be the most important topics for you as you look to the next few years:

Autonomous Transportation

Watch out for news from the sky coming to a smart city near you, but it isn’t just drones this year. The Bell Nexus is an all-new hybrid electric aircraft designed to be an ‘urban air taxi’ as soon as the early 2020s working with companies like Uber to ease congestion and speed travel. On the ground, Mercedes showed off a prototype modular system with different pods using the same chassis, while Aptiv offered autonomous Lyft rides for attendees to and fro. BMW, Audi and others showed off their AD partnerships with tech companies like Intel and Bosch (respectively), with vehicles loaded up with 360 AR entertainment systems from partners like Warner Bros and Disney. When you don’t have to drive yourself, you’ll have plenty of time and space to enjoy all kinds of work and entertainment options!

PCs are Back?

After a multi-year streak of declining or flat sales, many analysts are predicting that 2019 will be the first year to see Y/Y growth (though small). Security improvements, along with Windows 10 performance improvements and supply availability driving reduced cost have finally broken the dam on companies holding back on refreshing their inventory. Additional improvements in laptop screen quality, battery performance, 5G and network improvements, voice and biometrics and other form factor changes will delight users that have grown accustomed to tablet use. We saw loads of great, high-end product launches from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Sony and others, as well as Chromebook-style updates for less expensive models.

5G is Everywhere, Again

It’s the announcement that we’ve heard before, but this time it’s being put into our devices – and cars – and towers – and everything else. 5G, the promise of faster networks and deconflicting traffic, has been all the rage, but hasn’t come to life just yet for 99% of the world. This year, we are watching for devices to become equipped with the ability to work on the network, signaling that reality is just around the corner. Development sandboxes from Intel and Verizon as well as development kits indicate that it’s safe for organizations to start planning for integration.

Voice Control + Personal Assistants

We had a chance to check out cute and cuddly robots as well as industrial ones, but the improvements were really in increased integration for voice commands with smarter responses and more helpful utilities (aka just a little smarter). Personal assistants, both virtual and robotic are maturing in skill set and utility and are beginning to offer real value to users of all kinds. Users are increasingly comfortable with voice commands and the devices becoming easier to manage, integrating with personal assistants in new ways. No major announcements are expected this year on the voice front, though Google and Amazon both made some incremental updates and integrations with transportation (Alexa on bicycles) and physical devices (Google Home has over 30 languages).

Folding Screens

Have you ever wanted more visual space on your mobile device or laptop, but still wanted to fit it into your bag? The new generation of strong-but-flexible folding screens promise just that, with mobile devices that you can expand and contract, as needed. This may be one of the more high profile announcements of CES, but it isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet. However, the implications for incredible user experiences is truly exciting and makes this one a space to watch.

So How Does all of this Apply to Healthcare?

As with any trend, we believe you need to start with your strategy first, and then the right solution for your audiences will be evident. The technology above might be right for your audiences in health facilities, practices or at-home care with telemedicine. Improvements in AI, networking, security, wearables and voice control will continue to change how care is delivered to patients within facilities, as consumers, and for systems as organizations, but it’s never a one-size-fits-all. Some of the interesting digital health previews included ‘powered suit’ body-sized wearables that help with physical therapy and provide feedback that teach patients how to rebuild strength, even scaling down to ‘power gloves’ for arthritis. We saw backpacks that let the hearing impaired experience music and biofeedback wearables that improve quality of life through sensing what patients can’t – helping with Afib, Diabetes and other chronic conditions.

And finally, integrating user data with AI from systems, plus other personal historical information and context to enable better and more insightful recommendations for every patient or user. Whether the personal data comes from the individual only, or is blended with data from other blinded medical records and macro data from all available trend data, that information adds invaluable detail and reference to enable better solutions for all patient challenges. We expect to see interesting announcements from organizations large and small detailing how to connect data with real patient challenges in the rest of 2019, so watch this space for more!


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, go to our About page. 

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On the eve of our 5th annual Digital Health Luncheon at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, we had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Scott, Former Federal Chief Information Officer and Advisor at Squire Patton Boggs. Tony shared his views on some the hottest topics and trends taking shape at the intersection of healthcare and technology.  He also touched upon some of the critical conversations that we’ll be discussing live on Monday, January 7, at our annual Digital Health Luncheon…

Top three technologies with promise in healthcare for 2019?

  1. 5G networks
  2. Network enabled personal health devices (IoT)
  3. Telemedicine as a service (remote diagnosis, consultation, etc.)

The biggest challenges you see for the healthcare industry in 2019?

One of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry in 2019 is the ongoing digitization of the healthcare ecosystem, and the disruption that will continue to occur as technology upends traditional methods and practices. Every aspect of the healthcare ecosystem is still very early in the digitization journey, and as we’ve seen in other industries, the evolution can be very hard – especially for traditional players. I expect to see new ecosystem players emerge who will challenge incumbents. The new players will share a common DNA of low cost, no legacy overhead, a strong digital and data foundation, and a passionate focus on a unique value proposition, and a propensity to leverage (outsource) everything else.

What role do you see emerging technologies playing in driving behavior change? And where do you see the most promise for technology?

Emerging technologies – particularly 5G mobile networks combined with even more powerful mobile devices – will help revolutionize the healthcare ecosystem across the board. Behavior change will come about because these technologies will help make the transfer of information and access and use of information more friction free. Once adopted, this will create an environment where no one will want to go back to the old way. We’ve seen many examples of this in other industries. For example, why go to the bank to deposit a check, when you can simply take a picture and send it to the bank. Better yet, eliminate the paper altogether and do a digital transfer of funds.

There is great deal of promise for technology in the fight against cancer and other chronic diseases, as well. I expect to see more and more effective treatments and better and more timely ways of doing diagnosis as the result of a better understanding of the data around the specific disease itself. And, more and more of this will be personalized to the individual.

What do you see as the most promising technologies to empower seniors?

I think 5G networks and powerful mobile devices (that are easy to use) along with an increase in the number of network connected devices, (IoT) hold great promise. As the population ages, these developments will enable healthcare ecosystem players to digitally scale to meet the needs of aging consumers and should also help to lower costs.

How do you see major tech and consumer brands changing healthcare in the near- and long-term?

It is clear to me that the major tech and consumer brands/platforms have a current challenge in the sense that they are generally struggling with significant security and privacy challenges. That said, I believe these challenges will be addressed, and I predict that consumers will, over time, come to rely on these tech and consumer platforms for an increasing amount of information regarding healthcare, and for the delivery of healthcare where that is possible. This could be very disruptive for established healthcare players.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

ASH 2018 (American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting& Exposition) has come and gone so it’s time for us to peer into MDigitalLife and see how health stakeholders engaged at the preeminent hematology conference. One of the most unique elements of MDigitalLife is the collection of HCP digital presences matched back to their unique NPI numbers. This connection allows us to analyze HCPs based on a plethora of data points, including their Twitter activity. To really lean into this unique asset and provide the most value to our readers, we’ve decided to specifically look at how HCPs engaged in ASH18 and who they were most interested in this year. There were over 37K tweets from 7,400+ unique twitter handles mentioning #ASH18 from 12/1 to 12/4. Of that conversation, we tracked 13,132 tweets from 1,064 verified HCPs categorized in MDigitalLife. To compare that to previous years, we looked at the number of verified HCPs posting at ASH since 2014 and plotted them in the graph below.
First the good news, #ASH18 total HCP conversation increased with a 3% bump over HCP conversation at #ASH17. However, we did see a slight decline in the number of unique HCPs posting at ASH this year, compared to last year. It was only a drop of 34 HCPs (-3%) but considering the change from 2016to 2017 was an increase of 339 HCPs (+44%) it is a bit concerning. Looking at it another way, the smaller number of HCPs cranked out more posts than the year before with an average of 12.3 posts per author this year compared to 11.6 last year. HCPs were more active for ASH18, indicating a strong backchannel conversation and highly engaged audience. When you look a little deeper you see that 43.6% of that HCP conversation came from just the top 20 most active HCPs, so we are clearly seeing a very engaged core group of HCPs who are driving nearly half of the conversation. Knowing who those core HCPs are and what they are saying is crucial to understanding the key messages coming out of ASH. Beyond just volume of HCP conversation, we also took a look at which accounts HCPs are mentioning most to understand the most “popular”handles at ASH18. Reviewing the list, you may notice quite a few familiar faces from last year’s #ASH17recap including our 3 most active HCPs at #ASH17, Dr. Thompson (@MTMDPhd), Dr. Majhail (@BldCancerDoc) & Dr. Mohty (@Mohty_EBMT). Other familiar faces include passionate patient advocates Myeloma Teacher (@MyelomaTeacher) & Yelak Biru(@NorthTxMSG). Side note, it’s always a good sign to see patient advocates engaging alongside HCPs during medical meetings to ensure the patients voice is heard. Every account on the list above is absolutely crucial to the online ASH community, but we also wanted to look beyond popularity, to engagement in order to understand the accounts contributing the most shared content by HCPs during #ASH18.
Looking at this list of accounts receiving the most retweets by HCPs during #ASH18, we begin to identify some new faces contributing excellent content like Harvard Hematologist-Oncologist David Steensma (@DavidSteensma), Oxford HematologistGraham Collins (@Graham74gc), andUCSF Hematologist Nina Shah (@NinaShah33).Combined with longstanding HCP online influencers like Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK), Naveen Pemmaraju (@DoctorPemm), Miguel Perales (@DrMiguelPerales) and others, wesee a tremendous core of active HCPs contributing engaging content and leading a thriving online community centered around #ASH18. The HCP ASH community is clearly in good hands. For more on the importance of social media at ASH, be sure to listen to my wonderful colleagues Eileen O’Brien & Brianna Pereira’s W2OGoPodcast on the topic published earlier this week. And If you are interested in understanding more about the online ASH conversation and how you can best engage with key health stakeholders online, shoot me a note on Twitter/LinkedIn or fill out our contact us form and we will be in touch!
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This post was co-authored by Kevin Johnson, President of W2O marketeching 

“I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians, and I’m not kidding.” — Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google

Frankly, all of us at W2O are onboard with that observation.  It’s why we’ve hired more than 100 data scientists and analysts to help ensure that all our communications efforts are grounded in insights and analytics.  It is also why we had the pleasure of hosting PR colleagues as well as clients at our offices as part of the PR Council’s Executive Education series to discuss Harnessing an Analytics-Driven Approach to Fuel Optimal Targeting, Activation & Measurement.  The title captures the approach that is the core of who we are as an agency.

The fact is the abundance of data, and the progress and application of machine learning and AI, have allowed us as marketing and communication consultants to provide more tailored insights and in turn more customized strategic guidance to our clients on a real-time basis like never before. We now use data to identify specific audiences and those who have influence, the natural language these audiences use to communicate, the context in which they communicate in, and the channels where they most often get information and engage. At a time when companies are pushing the limits of innovation, fiercely competing for market share and working hard to grab customer attention in a distracted world, flipping the model to be truly audience-centric and one of influence vs., one-way communication is critical. Our session explored how data can be woven throughout the research, strategic and creative process and be applied to full omnichannel PESO activation.  Here are a few takeaways from our discussion

  • The age of data is here. Embrace it. Learn how to use it. Let it be your guide.
  • Findings are not insights. To get to actionable insights, you need the secret sauce that goes beyond the technology platform to include subject matter experts and strategists to analyze the data and a process that maps out a plan to move from data collection though insight generation.
  • Influencing the influencer is what PR has always been about. This explains why PR is at the center of the analytics revolution and how it has given communicators the ability to better target and measure than ever before.
  • Your corporate or brand story can be channel-agnostic. Data can help us to tailor content across paid, earned, shared and owned channels, including media buying and search, to maximize its impact.
  • Keywords are the first step in understanding what’s being said by your customers – but not the only step. Don’t stop at how keywords are being used.  Go beyond to look at how those influencers engage and behave through all their content … and can lead to new insights.
  • Data is everywhere – The key is bringing it all together for the most comprehensive picture.   Work in partnership with your other departments, data providers and agencies to pool as much data as you can and have access to in order to ensure you can have the most comprehensive view of a situation, audience or brand.  

If you are interested in learning more about W2O, check out our Analytics and About pages. 

Want to chat?  Drop us a line

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With just five months to go until the UK divorces itself from the European Union, the conversation has stepped up a notch to the point where it’s impossible to flick through a newspaper or turn on the TV without hearing conversation surrounding Brexit. After nearly a year and a half of planning, it is still to be decided what precisely is happening on Brexit Day, and what kind of deal, if any, Britain will be handed.

Like virtually all of the UK population, I have no idea what is to come once Britain leaves the EU, and in particular to our Life Sciences sector. So, I signed up to Fierce Biotech’s Executive Summit to hear the opinion of a panel of experts as to what might happen to the world of healthcare post-Brexit. Speakers consisted of leaders of key Life Science corporations in the UK, including the Bioindustry Association, the AMR Centre, and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. They spoke about how they are planning for Brexit in terms of funding, staffing and any impact to longer term projects, as well as what opportunities may lay ahead once Britain has left the EU.

Brexit often has cynical connotations in the public eye. Most Londoners voted to remain, so when I arrived at the event, I expected this to be the general perspective of the audience and speakers. However, like the rest of the audience, the smiling optimism of the speakers surprised me. The first question that the panel fielded concerned the industry’s health in the current pre-Brexit limbo. They explained that the Life Sciences industry hadn’t experienced a quantifiable decline in funding or collaboration interest from their European partners since Britain’s decision to leave the EU. They even noted that 2018, so far, has seen a whopping record £1.5bn investment in Britain’s Biotech industry.

Overall, the speakers displayed huge confidence in the sector, along with some concerns worth bearing in mind, which broadly fell into the following topics.

No More Money Pot?

British researchers are concerned that funding from EU countries will be on the decline once Britain leaves the EU. The speakers gave their view that on the flip side, partly due to Brexit, private investment funding is strong, particularly from the US, with both academic and commercial sectors booming as a result. With groundbreaking drug results coming through, investors have been more willing to invest in earlier stages of research. Dr Peter Jackson, Executive Director for the AMR Centre, explained that some EU funded collaborative efforts are “fairly impenetrable”, so the UK often turns to the US as he believes that a “small amount of quick money is better than a large amount of slow money”.

More Agile and Innovative Approach to Drug Development

It was explored whether EU regulatory frameworks may promote or hinder the speed of innovation. A new EU Clinical Trials Regulation (Regulation 536/2014) will come into play next year in attempt to make clinical trial regulation more consistent across the EU, allowing sponsors to submit a single application when conducting trials in multiple countries. Once the UK leaves the EU, clinical trial sponsors in the UK will no longer automatically be eligible for the new legislation. Therefore, the UK will have an opportunity to adopt a more flexible approach regarding regulation. This could revolutionise clinical trials design, allowing the UK to innovate and focus on operating a more liberal, risk-based regulatory environment without over-regulation, giving patients access to treatments that are on the cutting-edge of medical developments.

Better Together

Researchers are concerned that leaving the EU could establish barriers to scientific partnerships and talent from EU nationals that have provided a massive boost for British research. To plan for a potential brain drain, Matthew Durdy, Chief Business Officer at CGTC said it made them explore avenues outside of Europe for future collaborations. The CGTC now has deals with China and Canada, and he explained that it has made them more open to the rest of the world, which has been “a real positive for us.”. Dr Chris Doherty, Managing Director of Alderley Park, built on this by making the point that, as a nation, we may not be fully utilising our most qualified employees. Britain is lucky enough to have a strong education system with a rich supply of PhDs, however, as with many jobs in the science sector, school leavers are being trained to do the same job as doctorates. Chris believes that with the advent of Brexit, we can look towards developing more specialist, focused positions for highly qualified candidates to utilise Britain’s top-qualified talent, and potentially spur more intra-UK collaborations. The development of consortia within regions across the UK would enable funds to be pumped into areas outside of the capital and other key UK cities.

In summary, my main takeaway from the event was that the biggest risk of Brexit is the uncertainty. It’s hard for companies to plan around Brexit, especially when they don’t know exactly what they need to plan for. Fortunately, the UK has a dominant position and a longstanding history of breakthrough contributions from its scientists. From Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking, and Charles Darwin to Richard Dawkins, the pursuit of knowledge and innovation is embedded in Britain’s national identity. As we await the finalisation of some sort of agreement with the EU next March, people are working on it so that natural selection will favour the UK to adapt in order to survive. W2O will continue working with its clients to help them innovate, collaborate, and utilise potential regulation flexibilities. As for now, the Life Sciences sector will remain “business as usual”.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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It was great to roll up our sleeves with other researchers at EphMRA’s meeting this week to work through solutions to current industry challenges. For our presentation, we picked the topic of how to make insights ‘stickier’ and more relevant to brand teams – a way of thinking that is foundational to W2O and reflected in our consultative, integrated approach. If our insights don’t thread through to practical outcomes for our clients, then we are simply not hitting the mark and might as well put on our coats and go home!

One recurrent theme that we heard from other attendees is about how siloed structures can be a barrier to effective insights, meaning on one hand that insights, once produced, may get ‘lost’ in the business. It was also apparent that, too often, research teams operate in isolation from their colleagues for whose benefit the research is ultimately intended – making it hard to produce outcomes that are business-aligned and actionable. This is a common, and deflating, refrain amongst the research community.

For our part, we shared tips that we believe can make all the difference. A selection of these follows:

1. Think Like a Consultant

It’s no longer enough to just be a researcher. To get through to our time-poor clients we have learned to start with the end in mind, get right to the point and tell stories backwards. We know no one has the time for 100+ slides and so we are relentless in our approach to front-load our presentations with the insights that matter most.

2. Triangulate, Measure and Frame

The worlds of market research and analytics are increasingly colliding and we are seeing the best way to validate insights, especially at scale and over time, is to triangulate across sources. Insights that are robust are persuasive. If brand teams believe in them they will design their engagement plans using them. It sounds like a simple principle, but it remains difficult to work out which insights will frame what we call the ‘money slides’ in the read-out without truly engaging with the brand teams and asking them what specific data they need.

3. Effective Data Storytelling

Stories have many dimensions. In terms of content, stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Using a framework like the classic hero’s journey can help bring an element of drama to your presentation. The experience of the story is important to how ‘sticky’ it is as well. Compelling data, imagery and data visualisation all play a role. Even something as simple as the layout on the slide matters too. We have found that keeping charts clean and removing the noise keeps the focus on what is most important.

4. Interactive Formats Sustain Interest

Going one step further and allowing our clients to explore the data themselves with filters or animation which shows how the it unfolds over time has greatly added interest and stickiness to the experience of interacting with insights.

5. Seek Opportunities to PR the Value of Insights

Thinking beyond lunch-and-learns (though we like these too) to ways to highlight innovative approaches and get our clients gathered together to help us all solve problems is always valuable and we encouraged the attendees to consider ways they can do that to shout about the value they bring to the organisation in their own roles.

To close our presentation we asked the audience for their views on which of the ways in their experience made the most difference to the ‘stickiness’ of insights and their potential to endure over time.

The results below appear to reflect a strong desire in the pharmaceutical market research industry to move outside of their swim lane and to step up into more of a consultative role. Learning to tell better and more strategic stories about the insights that we reveal is a key element of that journey and one that we pledge to continue to pioneer with gusto at W2O.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Connected Health Conference in Boston. With a focus on the intersection of healthcare and technology, I was excited to hear about innovations coming from both the large companies presenting keynotes and the emerging companies offering small-scale sessions or even posters. What stuck with me most post-conference, however, were the valuable human connections that were made. Not surprising, actually, since so much of the conference focused on balancing technology and the human elements of healthcare.

Having been focused in the digital health space here in Boston for more than a decade, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to meet, engage and learn from the luminaries in our space. People like the Rasu Shrestha from UPMC, Matthew Holt from SMACK.health, Health 2.0 and the Healthcare Blog, and Jonathon Dreyer from Nuance are leaders that I’ve followed closely as it relates to trends and insights, but they are also people who have helped me understand the power of human connections both in work and life. The Connected Health Conference further reinforced the notation of human connections having the potential to drive positive change and innovation for individuals and industry alike.

As I’ve spent some post-conference time reflecting on lessons learned, I thought a lot about the value these connections can have for emerging digital health start-ups and even larger established companies looking to expand their healthcare footprint. The business case for devoting time to relationship building and human connection is far reaching but, it’s important to consider the type of relationships that are most mission critical for you and your organization:

  • Fine-tuning and Funding – Emerging start-ups are well-served to look to bridge relationships with communications and marketing experts (like W2O Group!) that can help craft an on-point go-to-market strategy and positioning that will resonate with investors and key buyers. In addition, organizations like RockHealth, StartUp Health, Venrock and Oak HC/FT are go-to places for focused relationship building as emerging companies look to build their business model and fund their big ideas.
  • Innovation and Inspiration – Larger companies like Johnson & Johnson are increasingly looking to emerging start-ups for potential partnerships and even backing to broaden the reach of their own portfolios. For the more established “Goliath’s” of our industry, partnering with local incubators like the one here in Massachusetts run by Nick Dougherty from MassChallenge HealthTech is a great opportunity to identify and engage with inspiring start-ups that could help spur much-needed innovation or disruption. These incubators, which are established in a lot of cities at this point, serve as a catalyst for connecting both regional and national organizations of all sizes to solve longstanding healthcare problems.
  • Trends and Tipping Points – Media and influencers often have the inside scoop on emerging trends that are poised to drive healthcare evolution in short-order. Go-to resources like Chrissy Farr from CNBC, Nikhil Krishnan from CB Insights and Jess DeMassa from WTF Health each offer a unique perspective on what’s next in healthcare and are sources of truth for things ranging from breaking news via Twitter to deep-seeded research on topics like the future of blockchain in healthcare to executive interviews with the who’s who in healthcare.

The concept of Six Degrees of Separation is a powerful one and based on my experience at Connected Health, it holds true. In the digital health space, valuable connections are easily identifiable and pursuable given you take the time and come at people with a genius interest in moving advancements in healthcare and technology forward as a collective “long hallway” team. Time spent at conferences like Connected Health isn’t about the educational sessions or booths, it’s about the people you run into in the hallways and the connections you make over friendly conversations at lunch or over a dinner and glass of wine. These connections are the lifeblood of making innovation at the intersection of healthcare and technology a reality.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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“We’re all here because we want to make a big difference.” The statement from Alexis Borisy, chair of Celsius Therapeutics and partner of Third Rock Ventures, captured the motivations behind the panel of life science leaders featured during Xconomy Boston’s Life Science Disruptors event held on October 17 at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research in Cambridge.

Speaking to an engaged audience of academics and industry stakeholders, the panel of eight speakers included executives and founders from emerging biotech companies Beam Therapeutics, Celsius Therapeutics and Arrakis Therapeutics. Over the course of the two-hour event, speakers from each company went to the front of the room to share their story in a casual and modest setting—no flashy slide decks, no moderator, no formal speech.

While each leader had their own style, and each company their own unique history, the common themes and motives at the core of each biotech business were apparent. Among them, the following three stood out the most:

  1. A Passion for Patients: Each company made clear that their purpose was to improve the lives of patients. While discussing his work, David Liu, co-founder of Beam Therapeutics, emphasized the bittersweet feeling of hearing from families with loved ones diagnosed with rare genetic diseases. David noted his lab receives e-mails on a weekly basis from parents with virtually no scientific background who have done enough research to determine that their child may benefit from the gene editing technology David and his team are developing. Christoph Lengauer, president of Celsius Therapeutics, began Celisus’ story by introducing the patients they are seeking to help, which include an employee of Celsius and his own daughter.
  2. An Integrative & Collaborative Approach: It was fitting that the event took place at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, as the values of integration and collaboration were clearly underscored throughout the night. During the opening remarks from Anne Deconinck, executive director of the Institute, she explained how the center was founded just seven years ago with the purpose of bringing scientists and engineers together under one roof to foster an environment that would yield new and innovative approaches to cancer treatment. Lengauer and his colleague Aviv Regev, scientific founder of Celsius Therapeutics, reiterated the importance of cross-discipline collaboration, highlighting the beauty of merging academic and non-academic thought leaders together to form a business and achieve the incredibly difficult challenges that would not be possible without integration.
  3. A Craving for Risk-Taking: Each of the companies at the event were established to explore a radical scientific approach to treatment. Michael Gilman, chief executive officer of Arrakis Therapeutics, disclosed the difficulty and significance of finding the first few people willing to support—and finance—your idea stating, “The fact is, you really only need to find one or two believers.” Aviv Regev also expressed her passion for pursuing the unknown, conveying the excitement she feels when starting something from scratch. She claimed, “If you’re not working on something that’s at least partially scary, you’re not working on the right problem.”

Fueled by these unwavering values, the companies clearly demonstrated their intentions to shake-up the healthcare ecosystem and remain on the cutting-edge of the life sciences landscape. At W2O, engaging with innovators and staying apprised of the game-changing developments in healthcare is just one way we give brands an unfair advantage. Like these companies, we operate through integration, continuously staying ahead of trends and delivering insight-driven strategies to meet our clients’ ever-changing needs. It’s no secret there’s a lot happening in healthcare… and we can’t wait to see what’s next.


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