Health 2.0 Conference 2010: Day 1

The 2010 Health 2.0 Conference kicked off this morning in San Francisco with a slew of exciting announcements, panels, and demos. This year, the conference anchors Health Innovation Week, which included the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge Code-a-thon, HIPAA Summit, HealthCampSFBay, Patients 2.0, and more.

Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya, founders of the conference, opened by discussing the current landscape of Health 2.0 and how it had changed in the past year. The keynote speeches, given by Jeff Goldsmith of Health Futures and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, then helped set the tone for the day. Both Goldsmith and O’Reilly spoke of the rising, disruptive forces in the health care sector and expressed hope that they were signs of positive change to come.

A major theme today has been the continued push for patient empowerment—allowing patients to access and use their own data, helping patients effect behavior changes through social networks and games, reaching out to patients wherever and however possible, or connecting them with other patients and harvesting stories to drive discussion and research. This was raised on multiple occasions in panel discussions and presentations, which covered a wide range of upcoming trends and products from both public and private enterprises.

Several companies also took advantage of the conference to announce the launch of new sites and services. ShareCare was easily the largest and most imposing newcomer: created by Jeff Arnold, founder of WebMD and former CEO of HowStuffWorks, it operates as a massive next-generation search engine for users to find answers to health questions. Content on the site, which covers an enormous array of knowledge, comes from a large roster of experts, organizations, and advertisers, ranging from Dr. Mehmet Oz to Johns Hopkins Medicine to AARP to Pfizer. Gideon Mantel of First Life Research showed off a new and powerful tool for tracking drugs, side effects, and more by essentially mining the entire Internet for consumer-generated content. A host of smaller startups, such as Qpid.me and TweetWhatYouEat, as well as the winners of the developer challenges, rounded out the group of presenting innovators.

It’s all an exciting reminder that major changes are afoot, and smart people (the “alpha geeks”, as O’Reilly calls them) are leading the charge. We’re looking forward to Day 2.

Henry Li is Associate Editor at THCB. He is a master’s student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he studies in the Division of Health Sciences Informatics and performs clinical software research as well as cost-effectiveness analyses.

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