Roundup of the Haas Business of Healthcare Conference

By Erin Trimble

Policymakers, industry professionals, startup founders, and students crowded San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko last week for the 7th Annual Haas Business of Healthcare Conference. Organized by MBA students at the University of California’s Berkeley Haas School of Business, the conference focused on the theme of “Embracing Consumer Choice”.

The day offered attendees the opportunity to explore a variety of topics related to patient engagement and the rise of the consumer-centric care, ranging from an interactive design thinking workshop hosted by UC Berkeley’s Sara Beckman to a panel focused on care delivery solutions in the global health space. As part of a series of fast talks on the future of personalized healthcare, Gilles Frydman, Co-Founder of Smart Patients, reminded the audience of the importance of context in the use of big data. “Big data is like the modern religion,” he said. “People are running with it, and not asking the right questions,” suggesting that only by reconnecting the data with individual patient stories can we get the right answers.

Product demos by such companies as Epocrates and HealthTap explored the issue of consumer engagement in the crowded space of patient and provider decision tools. Archimedes IndiGO makes it work by offering a highly personalized product with immediate feedback. Another highlight of the conference was an animated entrepreneurship panel hosted by Missy Krasner, Executive in Residence at Morgenthaler Ventures. In it, venture capitalists and startup founders (including Rock Health alumni Amy Sheng and Jonathon Feit) debated the tough issues, including fundraising and the challenges of staying lean in a capital-intensive space.

Ken Shachmut, EVP and CFO of Safeway Health. Inc., ended the day with a case study on Safeway’s innovative employee health system, which uses transparency and behavioral incentives to create a retail environment for healthcare. And the conference wouldn’t be complete without a little competition. Consulting teams composed of UC Berkeley graduate students were asked to consider a “real world” healthcare case: designing a marketing plan for the state’s health benefits exchange, Covered California. The Golden Bear Consulting Group won the challenge with their data-driven, targeted outreach plan geared towards engaging new users.

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