SXHealth 2018: Top Picks

It’s that time of year again! If you’ve submitted a panel idea for SXSW before, you know that community voting accounts for 30% of SXSW’s decision on what programming will be presented at the festival. This year’s PanelPicker – SXSW’s community voting interface – features 172 panels in the Health & Wellness category alone. (That doesn’t even include an extra 166 health submissions in other formats like solo presentations and book readings.)

That’s a lot of content to parse through.

But, you’re in luck! We’ve looked at each and every one of the 172 panels entered in this year’s Health & Wellness category to pick our favorites in a few categories that we’d love to see on stage. If you agree, give these panels your votes – it will get them one step closer to the SXSW stage this March 9-13 in Austin.

Tackling Health’s Biggest Problems

Health is a business, and we’re all intrigued by how cutting-edge tech can be applied in this industry. But, let’s not lose sight of some of the biggest problems in health – and how we can tackle them. From cybersecurity to social determinants of health, medicaid cost reduction to women’s health, here are our picks for panels tackling some of the most important issues in health today.

  • The ABCs of APM: Healthcare Quality Decoded! Oregon has engaged in a massive health care experiment with its Medicaid population that is banking on being able to dramatically reduce Medicaid costs and promote better health outcomes. Oregon’s strategy focuses on delivering comprehensive physical, mental and dental health care with a focus on quality and value and not volume. Come learn how we are doing it from a panel that represents the people making it happen.
  • Digital Disease: Hackers and Healthcare Face Off Modern medicine has become increasingly dependent on the use of technology to provide care for patients. Recent events have demonstrated the potential for harm that exists when medical infrastructure and medical devices are vulnerable to outside manipulation and attack. Doctors and patients need to team up to confront this emerging threat. Join a curated panel of experts in the medical cybersecurity sphere- including physicians, hackers, and patients – to learn how to do just that.
  • Broadband as a Social Determinant of Health With the increasing complexity in health care and the need for patients to be more actively engaged, many of the novel elements of care are dependent on modern mobile technologies and the broadband internet access that supports them. However, for the poorest and most remote populations – often those that are in the greatest need – broadband access is limited. How has broadband internet access become a social determinant of health and what are technology providers and others doing about it?
  • Desert to Oasis: The Future of Fresh Food for All Nearly 24 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in “food deserts:” communities where people typically have no access to reliable transportation, and no stores or farm stands offering affordable fresh fruits/vegetables within a mile. Discover how 13-year Whole Foods Market veteran Kristin Rabourdin is leading the charge to reach these communities by leveraging modern logistics technology and upcycling existing industrial materials to transform food deserts into food oases.
  • Women’s Health & Entrepreneurship: Where We’re At While ironic, the situation isn’t novel—although women are the primary decision makers in healthcare, they have historically been written off as a “niche” market, and their presence in the industry’s leadership ranks is dismal. Three digital health entrepreneurs who have spent years working to change this reality will explore the path to gender parity in healthcare, the redefinition of what it means to be a “women’s health” company, and why others should be excited to work in the space.

Emerging Health Tech

The most exciting part of SXSW is experiencing the most cutting-edge tech, many of which will end up becoming staples in the next 5-10 years. Remember when Twitter broke out at SXSW 2007? Or when we all started livestreaming video to our friends with Meerkat at SXSW 2015? What’s going to be the hot topic for health tech attendees at SXSW 2018? Upvote these panels to find out. What we couldn’t find – implantables and injectables. Maybe in 2019!

  • Deep Learning in Health: Ready for Prime Time Separating the sick from the healthy is expensive and gated by physician resources. No longer theoretical, AI approaches are showing potential to revolutionize screening programs and enable timely diagnosis. An early example is diabetic retinopathy, the fastest growing cause of blindness. Deep learning models for automated retinal screening are showing promise for accurate disease recognition. However, such successes raise new regulatory and policy questions.
  • How Will Neural Devices Enhance Human Experience? Will implanted neural devices help us or harm us? From cognitive enhancements to hacking prosthetic limbs, the future of neural devices is both exciting and frightening. While neural technology clearly has tremendous potential for people with disabilities – should it also be used to create “superhumans”? In this session, thought leaders in the field of neural engineering discuss how to responsibly navigate the path of neural device development without compromising human autonomy or identity.
  • Mining our Digital Lives to Measure Mental Health Measuring mental health has always been difficult. Recent advances in genomics and neuroimaging have aided research, but such new technologies aren’t practical at scale. Instead, progress may come from the increasing rich digital trails we can create digitally, from cell-phone sensors to social media footprints. This new approach, known as “digital phenotyping” will transform how providers collect information, continuously measure mental health behavior, and reimagine treatment for patients.
  • Skin Tech – Reprogramming The Skin You’re In Skin tech is the new skin care. Experts discuss the ingredients, apps, and devices that are moving from the dermatologist’s office to your medicine cabinet. Harnessing light, data, and everything in between, we’ll chat about the technology that’s transforming the category. How are brands bringing new technology to consumers, and how are they getting people to try them?
  • What’s The Deal With Brain-Computer Interfaces? Your brain is the next frontier in computing. For decades we’ve interacted with devices through our actions. But, with neural implants, we’ll interact with technology through our minds – creating a frictionless connection between the world’s information and our underutilized brains. This panel will explore how neural implants will impact self-awareness, communication, education, culture and more.

VR & AR in Health

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been some of the biggest buzz words in the tech community for years now – but, we’re starting to see real-world applications of these technologies in a clinical setting that are legitimately improving patient outcomes. These three panels highlight a few examples of this cutting-edge technology being used by patients and clinicians today. (Bonus: check out for more real-world examples of VR in health.)

  • Immersive Realities @ the Frontier of Healthcare Virtual and augmented reality are on the frontier of healthcare innovation, but can these digital realities deliver real results? Can an immersive world create empathy, change behavior, and improve overall health? Will these experiences and biometric sensors enhance the therapeutic journey? How do we use VR/AR to understand what works for each patient? Will data help us to predict what will work and for whom? Featuring experts from Cedars-Sinai, Boston Children’s, MGH, AppliedVR, and Brain Power.
  • Tackling the Opioid Epidemic with Virtual Reality The opioid epidemic is draining mental health resources, forcing communities to develop creative solutions. Virtual reality is emerging as an attractive tool, particularly given the increasing tech-savvy segment of opioid abusers. Solutions are being developed through multidisciplinary teams of technology, provider and legal experts. This SXSW panel will feature experts in these disciplines actively solving actual operational and regulatory challenges.
  • Advancing VR and Therapeutic Gaming in Healthcare There is a movement in the healthcare community to embrace VR and gaming in the healing process. What started as several isolated experiments has become a network of healthcare professionals, educators, and charities who are leveraging cutting edge technologies for therapeutic use. Learn how these innovations are defining new roles within the healthcare environment and improving the lives of patients facing life-threatening illness across the nation.

Marketing Meets Health Tech

We’re believers in the undertapped potential of partnerships between big health brands, marketing agencies, and tech companies. Big brands are looking for more innovative ways to reach their consumers in a digital world; agencies are trusted sources in the world of big brands and already manage multimillion budgets for the largest brands; and innovative companies are looking for inroads to the biggest brands as use cases for their products. Here are the panels we think every health marketer at SXSW should pay attention to.

  • To Work with Big Health Brands, Find Their Agency! You have a great startup, with a fab idea that is now starting to get traction. Have you ever thought of working with some of the largest agencies on the planet to partner with them and gain access to some of the largest brands out there? The agencies have unique relationships with marketers and can be your ally and friend as you begin to navigate big companies. This panel is made up of Big Agency, Client and Venture people who will share their views and lessons on how to work with Agencies.
  • The Consumerism of Healthcare As the consumerism of healthcare continues to evolve, how is pharma building DTC relationships? PharmCom, the convergence of pharmaceutical marketing and commerce, is emerging amidst a complicated healthcare environment where patients are becoming consumers, consumers are “shopping” for healthcare solutions, and new models are being tested. We will explore three major components driving this evolution: Qualified Self, Smart Care Teams, and Transparent Consumer Markets.
  • Targeted Marketing and Zero Waste Account Based Marketing can provide a personalized content experience for various audience segments. By leveraging artificial intelligence technology to surface hyper-targeted content recommendations to drive engagement, ABM will help you position your brand at the forefront primed for active engagement, and find and activate new accounts. It’s a patented technology that makes it possible to identify important decision makers, gain key insights and provides sales teams with business intelligence.
  • PopUp Star Contest to Improve Clinical Trials Lack of clinical trial awareness remains a barrier to bringing new medicines to market. The industry spends millions of dollars recruiting participants into clinical trials; yet, despite a true need for innovation, delays continue. Pop Up Star is a global competition to create broad awareness and promote the concept of clinical research as a care option within the broader health care community. This panel will explore the issue at hand, inspiration, guidelines, and progress to date.
  • Faux-tography: The Stock Photo Empathy Gap Search “patient” in Shutterstock and you’ll find 5,854 variations of the same image: concerned/affable/heroic doctor, counseling relieved/smiling/mooning patient. That scene probably looks nothing like a moment you’ve ever experienced in a doctor’s office, and creates huge constraints for visual storytelling among marketers. This issue is symptomatic of the widening empathy gap in healthcare marketing. Our panel tackles how to bridge that gap to create more authentic social and digital content.
  • Sending the Right Message @ Point of Prescription Electronic Health Records have become a primary mode of record keeping, research, communication, and more for healthcare professionals (HCPs). Our team of experts will showcase how this evolving tool for patient-care allows for greater use of context and opportunity for the modern communicator to reach patients, caregivers, and HCPs in specific sections of their interaction.
  • Healing Healthcare’s Reputation Advances in science have shifted the course of deadly diseases, but have done little to improve the biopharmaceutical industry’s reputation. Poor communication around research and drug pricing have alienated much of society, and the resulting lack of appreciation is seen in public policy. For an industry that innovates and heals, it’s time for change. A veteran journalist leads a discussion with scientists and CEOs who are committed to better public engagement and call their peers to join them.

Check back over the next two weeks as we post our favorites leading up to the close of PanelPicker on Friday, August 25.

Did we miss a panel you think is worthy of some love? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us: @dot_health.

Of course, SXSW is much more than just panels and programming. The magic of SXSW often comes out of the festival feel of the event, with lots of side activations, meetups, and parties throughout Austin. Are you planning something cool for the health tech community at SXSW? Drop us a line at – we’d love to support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 × two =