The topics addressed in Day Three seemed even more diverse than before, if that could be possible. On the HIMSS Summit of the Southeast Tech Stage, U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn stole the show with her talk on health information technology. Also popular were a star-studded panel on interoperability, a talk on clinical applications for big data (a la HCA’s Connie Saltsman), and Dr. Kevin Johnson’s thoughts on the future of the electronic health record.

The Wellness Stage continued to impress with musical performances, along with a variety of speaker topics ranging from the new era of stem cell therapy, to healthcare industry regulation and its relationship with innovation, to advice for mentoring startups, to a panel of student perspectives on the industry.

The Venture Zone covered (among many other topics): collaboration between startups and healthcare giants, success lessons from diagnostic tech company iQuity, and — my personal favorite — the federal government’s efforts to incentivize healthcare innovation (it includes several online “sandboxes” where entrepreneurs can test their product against various federal standards).

As a content strategist, I was most drawn to the sessions on marketing, which took place on today’s Business Stage. A system shift towards treating the patient like a rational consumer capable of making choices (which is how individuals are treated in practically all other industries) has opened up new opportunities for marketing in healthcare. I was excited to learn more about this landscape shift, and today did not disappoint.

Another of my favorite sessions today was Martie Ross of PYA talking about the importance of local control of community hospitals. Community (rural) hospitals face high fixed costs and low volume, which one might assume is a perfect recipe for consolidation. But those hospital board members resist consolidation because they see local control as critical to that hospital’s success. Instead, a more effective solution is network alignment — which allows those individual community hospitals to continue focusing on their communities but with a higher influx of capital and other resources. For this to succeed, the payment structure must shift from a volume-based reimbursement model to value-based reimbursement, delivering profitability through efficient care. As I listened to Martie talk, I couldn’t help but picture the hospital system in my rural hometown in Eastern North Carolina, making a mental note to learn more about its status.

 Martie Ross, PYA

In the Plenary Sessions, celebrities like singer Brenda Lee and Olympic ice skater Scott Hamilton delivered funny, compelling stories of their own health journeys and how the system supported or failed them. “Healthcare should belong to the people who use it,” Brenda asserted. Renowned economist Art Laffer spoke convincingly about tax policies that support growth, and strategy consultancy CEO Scott Monty expounded on the value of trust in marketing. Even before all the keynotes, though, I was impressed by a brief presentation from Health:Further CEO Marcus Whitney and Briovation Chief Medical Officer Mario Ramirez, MD. Together they shared one particular way next year’s festival will be better: by including more physicians through strategic partnerships with Vanderbilt and other medical institutions, through targeted programming at the festival, and more. Health:Further’s focus on constant improvement is one of my favorite attributes of the company.


Keynote speaker Brenda Lee (“Little Miss Dynamite”)


Economist Art Laffer (as in, the Laffer Curve) — another one of our keynote speakers


In the end, I felt today’s lessons could be summed up by one quote from speaker Tim Hayden of Brain+Trust Partners:

“It’s not all about technology. It’s about process. It’s about people.”

Health:Further embodies this sentiment in a way that continues to make me boldly optimistic about the future of health.

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