A Cure for the Common Conference: HealthCamp Brings Consumer-Driven Health Care to Life

10/5/10

As many clinicians will tell you, there is no single change that will radically improve health care for everyone. Technology is often regarded as the secret sauce, but really, it is only an enabler. There is no silver bullet that will cause everyone to suddenly adopt healthy habits of eating, sleeping, and exercise.

Yet if we could improve those habits only modestly and sustain that change over time, we would have a profound impact on both health and health care economics. The missing “secret sauce” and the big opportunity is not in discovering “the killer app for healthcare,” but in developing and implementing a behavioral and cultural symphony that engage each individual’s social network and effective behavioral mechanisms to create and sustain healthy lifestyles.

I saw this symphony take shape last month when I participated in HealthCamp San Diego, an event where patients, clinicians, technology experts, and innovators utilized that patient-centric thinking to discuss the future of health care and health innovation. It’s happening again tomorrow at HealthCamp SFBay, a sold-out event at the Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center in San Leandro, CA.

The HealthCamp “unconference” represents a break from the traditional symposium format. It brought together people with different backgrounds and skills for what can only be described as organized chaos. The event had no set agenda and fewer PowerPoints than your typical conference, allowing everyone there to engage at their own pace and be a part of driving the conversation by contributing perspectives, ideas and experience. That “unconference” format made it easy for us to make the connections needed to spark creative new ideas.

HealthCamp San Diego focused, in particular, on consumer-directed health care, a topic which is extremely broad and complex with deep roots in technology, policy, economics, behavioral shaping, and cultural change. While no single individual can master all of these areas, everyone at HealthCamp had relevant experience and knowledge in one or more of those areas, leading to an energizing, productive conversation filled with fresh perspectives and new ideas.

Leaders from the biotech, pharmaceutical, and IT fields in the San Diego area provided the local insight that has made the area a global center for health care innovation. We participated in sessions on how physicians can use Facebook, how cloud computing and open source systems will affect mobile health, and even discussed some apps that will … Next Page »

John Mattison, MD, is the assistant medical director and chief medical information officer for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California Follow @

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