Pulse + Signal http://pulseandsignal.com Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:10:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 How to Decide on Attending a Conference http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/08/how-to-decide-on-attending-a-conference/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/08/how-to-decide-on-attending-a-conference/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:54:04 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2428 shareasimage (1)

It never fails. After the 4th of July, summertime seems to fly by in a hazy blur of last minute grilling, family vacations and sneaking out of the office early on Fridays. Here we are in the final weeks of August where school buses are hopping back onto the roads and school supplies are scattered across various stores. So you know what that means, Fall is coming and…

Conference season will be here soon. Yay!

You know what I’m talking about. The rush of coordinating flights and hotels, connecting with colleagues and trying to figure out the best one to go for your/your company’s budget. Often times this is met with cramming in work travel before cramming in family holiday travel.

Double Yay!

So let’s dig in. The health care innovation landscape has plenty to choose from so let’s try to reduce that state of frazzlement (yep, just made that up).

How Much Will It Cost?

Let’s go ahead and get this one out the way. Often times when it comes to meetings and conferences, the question of whether you can afford to attend comes up – fast. Whether you have direct access to shape a conference/travel budget or not, this is usually a make or break situation. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help clarify and prioritize:

Are there Volunteer Opportunities?

Back when I was still getting started in my career, I made it a point to get involved in conferences through volunteering. Sure, they may have had a student discount but hey, free is even better. More important though, was being given the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how the event was put together. Also, being able to interact with speakers at the registration table and preparing them for stage time was invaluable to growing my network. Lastly, don’t think the volunteer status is just for “those young kids and interns” – whether you’re growing your influence or are already well established, having the service-minded role of a volunteer can go a long way in the eyes of your peers. Oh yeah and ask about these opportunities early – they often fill up fast.

Are there Media/Press Passes Available?

This is where having a platform and thought leadership influence can have a big impact. Often times, conferences want to make sure that people are talking about the content they’ve worked so hard to curate. This is where you come in. What platforms do you have a number of readers or a decent sized audience with? Is your Twitter account active? Do you write regularly on your blog and cover the topics that the conference has in common? This is why I talk about building a platform for yourself so much – there are a number of reasons it pays off and this is just one of them. However one of the things you want to get clarity on up front is what constitutes press for the event. Sometimes there is a difference between actual press (journalist) vs a media influencer (blogger, thought leader). Just like the volunteer, ask early.

Apart from the conference itself, what will travel cost?

Ah, travel and lodging. That sneaky little line item that sometimes can turn a smile upside down. Whether you get the actual ticket taken care of or not doesn’t really matter if you can’t get to the darn place. And the longer the conference is, the higher the bill for a hotel. Usually if you’re working at a company you might be privy to a discount at a particular chain. If you’re working as a solopreneur/consultant you may want to check out AirBnB. Lastly, if you’re staying far away from the event location, you’re going to have to consider how you’re getting back and forth. This is a big part of planning if you’re attending the SXSW Interactive event in Austin each year, for example. Having something like Uber in your pocket might be a good idea. If you have family or friends in the area, I would consider this a last resort – especially if it’s a really important event. You’ll want to stay focused. I have more to say about that as well – maybe I should write a separate post on it.


What Will You Be Doing There?

There are many reasons why you should make sure and get out onto the conference circuit. From learning, networking, being seen (yes, I said it) and of course getting up on stage to speak/present – all are good and often times necessary to become a better professional/innovator/thought leader.

Are You Speaking?

If so, congratulations! Public speaking is hands down one of the best ways for you to build your credibility and brand in the field. The visibility alone that comes from speaking at an event is worthwhile (even better when you get paid for it!). So this is obviously a no brainer. You signed on the dotted line to present something awesome and mind-blowing to the audience – let’s get it done.

Do You Want to Speak at this event?

So if this is a conference that you’d like to be able to get on stage and present material to the audience, it might be a smart idea to get immersed and get the view from the other side of the stage. Not only will you be able to see the lay of the land as far as mingling with attendees and experiencing what sessions/keynotes are like, you will have a chance to have direct contact with the conference organizers. Have a question to ask that will most likely get buried in their inbox? Now’s your chance.

Networking opportunities?

Attending a conference that you’ve carefully scoped out for relevance can be a great way for you to rub elbows with colleagues and influencers who you may only connect with online. Have an idea you want to run by someone? Want to spread the word on your new consultancy? Looking to get your foot in the door of a new job? Nothing beats those face to face interactions of a live event.

How Will It Align With Your Body of Work + Expertise?

This is more of a thoughtful question as it goes with the 30,000 ft view that I try to encourage clients to think about. At the end of the day, this is a large investment of your time, energy and (usually) money.

A few years ago I was taking a walk outside at a conference with one of my good friends Susannah Fox (formerly of the Pew Internet Project) and we were discussing the future of our respective work. I remember her telling me about how she was getting really intentional about the amount of conferences she was going to be attending and it really made an impact on me. Often times we get caught up in the hamster wheel of doing things just because or it has been a tradition. In this new world of work and ongoing busyness, it’s going to become increasingly important that you take a step back and think about where you invest your time. Especially as you continue to build your own brand and platform for great work.

As you think about how this event will build your brand, consider what the tangibles will be:

  • will you be writing about the event and takeaways on your blog? (highly recommended)
  • will you be tweeting about it during the day? (great way to build your Twitter following)
  • how many people will be connecting with afterwards that you can add to your Linkedin connections?
  • are you going to be interviewing speakers for your podcast or blog?

Hope this helps a bit with framing your thinking and provide relief as you make final plans for the crazy season. And before you know it, it’ll be time to battle masses of people around the country for space on the road for Thanksgiving (that didn’t help did it?).

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Upgrade Your Learning: Social Media Week with Mayo Clinic http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/07/upgrade-your-learning-social-media-week-with-mayo-clinic/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/07/upgrade-your-learning-social-media-week-with-mayo-clinic/#respond Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:29:16 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2399

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since I joined the advisory team at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media. The opportunity to collaborate and educate healthcare organizations on the constantly changing digital/social media landscape continues to be a privilege.

That’s why I’m super excited about this year’s events at Social Media Week @ Mayo Clinic where healthcare professionals from all over will be gathering for top notch conversations and learnings on best practices. All of this stems from the work happening at the Center through the Social Media Health Network – this is the premiere platform for individuals, hospitals and organizations to get plugged into a host of Mayo Clinic learning modules/resources. Feel free to poke around here to learn more.

The Social Media Health Network (SMHN) provides access to tools, resources and guidance for organizations as well as individuals who want to use social media for health and health care.

Want to learn a bit more? Let the Center’s rockstars Dr. Farris Timimi (Medical Director) and Lee Aase (Director) talk to you about all the details on getting involved:

I plan on heading out to Social Media Week @ Mayo in October and taking part in many of the immersive learning activities as well as meeting up with colleagues. You should too.

Oh and don’t forget to start following the Network on their new Twitter account! Full of fantastic resources around social media and healthcare.


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Lori Melichar: Identifying Innovative Ideas in Healthcare http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/01/lori-melichar-the-future-of-rwjfs-pioneer-portfolio/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2014/01/lori-melichar-the-future-of-rwjfs-pioneer-portfolio/#respond Mon, 06 Jan 2014 14:56:16 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2266  

Pioneer Pitch Day Judges + Staff


The forward movement of healthcare innovation is at a fever pitch. Between consumer health focused mobile apps and much needed systemic changemaking, there is a growing pool of ideas that are sprouting up all over. Just like it is with the constant stream of resources and information gathered through social media – the activity of conscious curation of these ideas is the next step in purposeful innovation for our wellbeing.

Last Fall (October 16th to be exact), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio – the division responsible for forward thinking ideas and initiatives in health – held their first ever Pioneer Pitch Day event in New York City.  The Pioneer team has been fully focused on opportunities to collaborate and encourage fresh thinking. A few years ago, I interviewed RWJF’s Paul Tarini about how competition can be a healthy resource for bringing forth inspired ideas – that same thinking continues today.

I actually had a chance the day after the event to catch up with Lori Melichar – the Pioneer Portfolio’s current team leader – about what the the future will hold for the event and the division’s role in securing innovative ideas for healthcare. Now that the fantastic video highlighting Pitch Day has been released, I knew it was a perfect time to bring all of this together.

Listen to our conversation and let me know if you have any follow up questions for Lori on what Pioneer is all about.


Don’t forget to add the Pioneering Ideas blog to your favorite RSS reader to stay up to date on all the next generation initiatives in healthcare.

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Announcing ePatient2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Healthcare http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/12/announcing-epatient2015-15-surprising-trends-changing-healthcare/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/12/announcing-epatient2015-15-surprising-trends-changing-healthcare/#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2013 18:11:12 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2257 epatient_2015_3D


Yesterday I had the fantastic pleasure of connecting with my long time friend, colleague and healthcare innovation thought leader, Fard Johnmar. As some backstory, Fard was actually one of the *very* few people talking about the intersection of healthcare, marketing/communications & technology when I first got started. Yes, that was over 7 years ago – ancient times in the Internet.

I consider him the Nick Fury of healthcare. Fard is a doer/maker. An aspect that has had my admiration for the longest time.

Fast forward to today. Fard and Rohit Bhargava of the Influential Marketing Blog and author of Personality Not Included, Likenomics & others have teamed up to write ePatient2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Healthcare. This is book is not only a fantastic primer on what has already been happening in the field but looks toward the future in a calculated (read: not hyped) fashion.

I decided to interview Fard on Google Hangouts (my first time for Pulse + Signal, let me know what you think) about the book and his perspective on the content:

I had the opportunity to dive into the book and I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised at the balance of excitement tempered with the realities of why the current/future changes happening in healthcare are important. As you can see in our interview, both Fard and I understand that the future of any kind of positive/sustainable innovation in health is a product of careful collaboration + understanding of the people involved. This has been an important factor in where my thinking has grown around public health, design, technology and communication. As I’ve said before, sustain or die.

Next week Fard and Pulse + Signal will be teaming up to put on a webinar focused on a deeper dive within the concepts of the book and breaking them down to equip you with fuel for your 2014 work whether you’re a marketer, technologist, designer or a healthcare service provider. Two lucky webinar attendees will be given hard copies of ePatient2015! [REGISTER LINK]

Lastly, if you’re interested in grabbing the book (which I would encourage – no affiliate kickback for me btw), check out this infographic they created (PDF) to give you even more of a reason to:

  1. Get the book
  2. Write a review on Amazon
  3. Share your brilliance with colleagues (if you’re on Twitter, discuss with #epatient2015)


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5 Innovators Tackle Chronic Disease http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/12/chronicdiseasechallenge/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/12/chronicdiseasechallenge/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2013 18:29:56 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2246  


Over the past two years, there has been an increasing focus on the use of big data to make an impact within healthcare – everything from EMRs to tracking personal activity achievement over time. However, Jen van der Meer of Luminary Labs reminds us that data needs to become actionable in order to create the solutions we need.

Enter the Merck | Heritage Provider Network Innovation Challenge earlier this Fall. Quite a mouthful huh? Maybe it’s because of the massive health issue being tackled: chronic disease care. More specifically – diabetes and heart disease. And the challenge has gone out to the smart people, innovators doers around the country. Because that’s what we need – doing:

…calls on entrepreneurs, data scientists, designers, healthcare providers, and big thinkers to create the products or services that will support patients with diabetes and/or heart disease in adhering to their care plans. For people living with these chronic diseases, a care plan maps out critical recommendations around healthy behaviors, medication management, and nutrition.

Since the Challenge got started, a number of submissions came through and they recently announced the semi-finalists. I’m definitely excited to see that one of the teams, Wellframe, I know well and know their commitment to the chronic disease landscape. As the competition continues to gain media attention and more importantly, the teams dig deep to continue honing their service for the next round of judging – I’m looking forward to seeing solutions that are well-designed & sustainable.

Keep an eye out here for more updates as the timeline for the Challenge continues!

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The FLOTUS Says: Drink More Water http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/11/the-flotus-says-drink-more-water/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/11/the-flotus-says-drink-more-water/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2013 15:53:00 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2237 Many of us know the basics of better nutrition and well being. Drinking water is definitely part of that.

The consumer-centric world of beverages with some sort of added benefit has exploded over the past several years. Remember when Snapple was the feel good brand that you weren’t really sure if it was good for you but you just KNEW it was made from the best stuff on Earth? In this short PSA, Partnership for a Healthier America and Michelle Obama have teamed up.

As the First Lady points out – what you drink is up to you. But drinking water rises above much of the competition. In addition to prompting the “drinking up” of more water, you’re also drinking a better choice for your body’s well being.

I almost would love to see a team up with FLOTUS and Scott Harrison of charity:water giving a global perspective on how important water is for livelihood as well as long lasting individual health.

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Bringing Diversity to the Health Tech Ecosystem http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/08/bringing-diversity-to-the-health-tech-ecosystem/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/08/bringing-diversity-to-the-health-tech-ecosystem/#comments Sat, 31 Aug 2013 22:30:25 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2220 Photo Credit: Black Girls Code project

Photo Credit: Black Girls Code project


The following is a guest post by Dr. Ivor Horn. Ivor is a physician, thought leader and health services researcher with a passion for technology, health innovation and the underserved. Learn more about her on her website.

While we have made great strides over the last decade, minority communities are still disproportionately affected by health disparities in this country. However, there is a convergence of technology use among minority communities that has created an opportunity to disrupt the current trajectory of health disparities.

Minorities are early adopters when it comes to mobile technology for many reasons – cost, transportability and internet access to name a few. They are the fastest growing population of smartphone users and more likely to go online using their cell phones, especially to connect via social media.  As early adopters of mobile technology, minority and urban communities may be best positioned to benefit from tech innovations in health care.  Of note, African Americans are twice as likely as whites to use mobile health applications (15% vs. 7%) with Latinos not far behind (11%). When we asked families in our clinics if they would be interested in receiving health information via mobile, almost 90% said yes. The Pew Internet Project has great details on the use of health & tech and by whom.

To date there have been very few companies & initiatives developing tech services focused on these communities of color, but the tide is shifting.

Innovations in health technology offer great promise for reducing health disparities, but there is a need for an ecosystem that promotes the development, implementation and evaluation of such technology solutions geared toward minority populations who need it the most.  There is a need for a partnership between developers, the health system, funders and communities.

At next year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) event (discussed a few times here on the Pulse + Signal blog) – a flurry of digital, futuristic and innovative pioneers will be descending upon Austin, Texas. While many of us in the digital health and innovation landscape are looking forward to connecting and ushering in new ideas – a few of us will be discussing what can be happening right now to create impact.

In order to bring alot of what I’ve mentioned to the forefront, I’ve joined with extraordinarily smart colleagues/thought leaders in the health care and technology landscape (including Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code – photo above is from one of their workshops) to put together a hands-on workshop proposal for next year and I hope you’ll get on board with spreading the word! Our workshop will help to not only expose the plethora of opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to get involved in changing the health landscape for communities of color but it will also begin connecting the dots for those who want to create lasting social impact.

Want to help get us to SXSW next year so we can make this happen?

  1. Create a SXSW PanelPicker account (if you already haven’t)
  2. Vote for our session by clicking on the thumbs up icon
  3. Feel awesome about contributing to a much needed aspect of the event and the future of health innovation

It really is that simple! I’m looking forward to making this happen and moving things forward for the benefit of many in our communities.

P.S.: We’re all on Twitter so follow us: Ivor Horn, Alisa Hughley, Kimberly Bryant & Damon Davis


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RWJF Wants Your Ideas to Change the Future of Health http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/08/rwjf-wants-your-ideas-to-change-the-future-of-health/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/08/rwjf-wants-your-ideas-to-change-the-future-of-health/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 02:59:13 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2216 Anybody who knows me hears me mention the impact that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has had on me in my career. As a matter of fact, during the first Health Datapalooza event in Washington, DC – I got a chance to meet and hang out with Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. Was probably one of the biggest highlights of the year for me. I’ve kept tabs on RWJF, especially their Pioneer & Public Health portfolios, for quite some time. I’m basically a fanboy.

Here Risa sets the stage for where we need to be prioritizing our innovative concepts and ideas about what health is about:

I’m really excited to see the organization stepping out into the world to accept pitches from smart people who have ideas they’d be interested in. You heard right. RWJF is having their first ever Pitch Day in New York City and are currently on the lookout out for people like you to submit ideas to them! I absolutely love equipping people with opportunities and resources so this announcement put stars in my eyes. Bring your A-game, because the lineup of judges is pretty impressive. Ranging from the future-thinking investor Esther Dyson to Ben Sawyer of the Games for Health Project (one of my fantastic clients) and Ben Heywood of the pioneering PatientsLikeMe organization.The concept of co-creation, which is intensely important for this next phase of impact, is no stranger to RWJF however I think doing things this way brings about a fresh new perspective in vetting actionable initiatives.

Before you get your submission in, make sure you read about what the Pioneer Portfolio looks for in ideas and think about sustainability. You remember what I said about “sustain or die” right? Yeah, still relevant (even more so actually). I encourage you to tell others about this upcoming event in October and get your ideas in. Think outside of traditional health notions. We’re embedding health into where people live, work and play (and even pray – something I hear my colleague/mentor Jane Sarasohn-Kahn say all the time) and that’s the only way in which we can encourage long lasting impact.

Are you submitting something? Thinking about it? Let me know!


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Welcome to the New Pulse + Signal! http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/06/welcome-to-the-new-pulse-signal/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/06/welcome-to-the-new-pulse-signal/#respond Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:39:47 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=2210 For you ... the beginning of a new journey

I’m extremely excited not only about the new look of the website but also the actual mission/activities that have changed a bit. For the past 6 years myself and a handful of guests on the blog have given you insight into the worlds of public health/healthcare, communication trends, technology and the impact of innovating across those realms. A few changes have been happening internally and external with the business over the past several months and without a doubt one of the most important has been this makeover.

From it’s humble beginnings as just a places where my thoughts and ideas around the future of health (specifically public health then), Pulse + Signal has come a long way. Now as a consultancy for the past year, Pulse + Signal will still be about highlighting these ideas and current state of healthcare innovation. I’m so excited to share this “facelift” with you all!

Let’s take a stroll through some of these additions/changes, shall we?

  1. Tagline: “Digital Branding & PR for Health Innovators” off the bat, you know what Pulse + Signal is about.
  2. Blog: The blog you knew and loved from the beginning isn’t going away! Interviews, reviews and thoughts on how technology & new initiatives in healthcare are making an impact. Have questions or ideas for things that should be up there? Let me know!
  3. About: What is this consultancy about? Who is Andre Blackman? What’s his experience/history like? Well, there you go.
  4. Services: This is what Pulse + Signal does. Strategy, getting the word out and working alongside healthcare professionals & innovators to bolster their digital footprint. Need these things for yourself or something your company is working on? Hire me.
  5. Testimonials: Don’t just take my word for it. Some other people think I know what I’m talking about too (and no I didn’t pay them).
  6. Jobs: Looking for gigs in the world of social media/digital in the healthcare field? Look no further. The Pulse + Signal Job Board has helped quite a few people in their search. Want to post a job opportunity to the board for forward-thinking job seekers in healthcare? Go right ahead.
  7. On the Right Side Column: Connect with Pulse + Signal on Facebook & Twitter! Get your friends/colleagues signed up for this newsletter! Oh yeah and right below that: a couple places where I’ve been featured (I get around a bit).

So there it is. A new chapter to expand my horizons and hopefully those of others as we embark on new journeys in healthcare.

Have some thoughts on the redesign? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Launch Festival 2013: A Healthcare Innovation Perspective http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/03/launch-festival-2013-a-healthcare-innovation-perspective/ http://pulseandsignal.com/2013/03/launch-festival-2013-a-healthcare-innovation-perspective/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2013 22:59:54 +0000 http://pulseandsignal.com/?p=1945 LAUNCH Festival

Original photo: Cristian Liu

The following is a guest post by Cristian Liu, a healthcare strategist with in-depth experience in international services, technology and government sectors. Cristian is passionate about the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and social innovation. Follow him on Twitter.

Three days of demos, pitches, and inspirational talks.  $100,000 invested into a hackathon company. Crowd-sourced funding with virtual dollars to get a sense of who the most popular companies were. “What incredible event was this?” one might ask?  The only one that it could be is this years Launch Festival hosted by Jason Calacanis & Launch in San Francisco from March 4-6, 2013.

While the Launch Festival has always been a hotbed of startup activity (Mint.com and Yammer were both launched at prior festivals), this year’s event seemed to have a little bit of a different take on entrepreneurship than previous years.  One only needed to look at at the headline sponsor of this year’s event,  The Social+Capital Partnership to get a sense of what I am alluding to.  Throughout the talks, presentations, and pitches, one of the reinforcing themes throughout the event was the concept of “impact.”  What “impact” is your organization going to have, and at what scale.  Several times during the fireside chats the speakers touched on the idea that financial returns are no longer enough – entrepreneurs would be well severed to look beyond the monetary consequences of entrepreneurship.  I’m thrilled to see entrepreneurship taking a more prominent world in impact and excited to see how it develops.

In line with the impact aspect, there were several healthcare related startups present at Launch Festival despite the fact it occurred at the same time as HIMSS.  Three healthcare related companies caught my attention during the event and they were also conveniently situated in adjacent booths: referralMD, Open Placement, and Cloud2Health.

  • referralMD: Securely exchange web based physician referral letters online without the hassle of paper and fax. Track referral quantity and quality without spreadsheets.
  • Open Placement: OpenPlacement seeks to become the standard in the transition of care. The platform is currently deployed across the Bay Area. The team went through Rock Health‘s fourth class in San Francisco in 2013.
  • Cloud2Health: cloud2health curates data from consumer’s mobile health & fitness apps (“HAPPS”), along with traditional medical data, providing secure, interactive and predictive rules and recommendations via cloud2health’s proprietary Ensa Engine.

One concerning tidbit that kept bugging me throughout the weekend as I was keeping up with tweets from HIMSS and Launch simultaneously related to the discussion of technology adoption.  During Launch, the idea of interacting with customers through a mobile and tablet interface was a no brainer.  Indeed, some of the judging panels were already talking about how startups could leverage Google Glass technology (even though it’s not available for consumers yet).  The sense I got from HIMSS was that healthcare is still stuck on this idea of getting people to access technology via web browsers.  It concerns me that human-computer interface technology in the high-tech world is two generations of devices ahead of healthcare.  There are great organizations working to bridge the gap between the two, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll be enough.

To find out more about the Launch Festival or check out the recorded content from the event, check out some of the included links below.

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