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At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012

At SXSW, Microsoft threw the biggest party and the entry ticket let you try out an array of cyber-experiments, including a Kinect-powered robot-boxing clash. For added kicks, there was even old-school Austin ladies' roller derby.

At the more sedate campus, where healthcare tech was being scrutinized, Golinkoff talked of Aetna's mission to "use information to try to help what the physician and patient are trying to accomplish be more likely to happen."

He echoed familiar payer themes such as making patients more active participants in their healthcare, and demanding both better quality and lower costs. The consumer tech industry is responding with a flurry of health-related apps.

Other apps are embracing healthcare uses. As many health plan deductibles top $1,000, consumers are turning to non-traditional resources such as Yelp, which sent a vice president to SXSW to defend its use to rate doctors.

No one here seemed to be able to predict exactly what tipping point will totally disrupt the current healthcare system, but strikingly, some were betting on some viral smartphone app like iTriage—a symptom tracker that rates healthcare facilities on their treatment records—having a bigger impact than any federal mandates or industry standards.

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2 comments on "At SXSW, Hipsters Look for Healthcare Tech Tipping Point"


PJoseph (3/14/2012 at 10:54 AM)
Hey, Tom Noland and Shankar Ram of Humana. If Humana is serious about really helping customers, why did you send me, a long-time Humana customer, a paper calendar with pretty pictures on it? Is that an idea from your innovation center? How does that help me be healthier? How does that reduce healthcare costs? Is sending me a calendar the best way to spend your 20%? I don't think so. For your innovation center, hire people from Zappo's and Netflix, not healthcare, who really know how to motivate me to change my behavior, reward me for doing what's best, and make me feel good about it. Align your SXSW speeches with action, please. Change to healthcare delivery cannot happen without bringing in successful people from OUTSIDE healthcare.

Doug Naegele (3/14/2012 at 9:37 AM)
The line "Smartphones are no panacea..." is a great one, in that it acknowledges that not all patients are healthy, upper-income iPhone users. SmokefreeTXT, a product Infield Health built for the National Cancer Institute, works on SMS specifically to reach a non-smartphone market: teens. Let's remember that the very people who need health advice are sometimes not carrying shiny iPhone 4S's. Doug Naegele Infield Health