2017 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Review by Giles Ward, Executive Director, Consortium
JPM is always a whirlwind, but with 40mph winds and several inches of rain, 2017 will be remembered as a gathering of very soggy blue suits and city trash cans piled high with broken umbrellas. With approximately 4,000 registered attendees, the city has not a hotel room available and is filled with five times that number for the related showcases and side meetings. Every coffee shop, restaurant, hotel lobby and bar is spilling over with earnestly huddled suits looking a laptops or pitch books. Entire hotel floors have had the beds removed creating hallways of mini meeting rooms making elevator banks inaccessible on the hour or half hour as everyone moves on to the next tightly scheduled appointment.
Credit to Bass, Berry & Sims this year for pulling out of the over-booked cocktail reception, dinner, after-party and late-night scene to rent the upstairs of a conveniently located restaurant that they made available to friends of the firm for meetings and shelter from the rain – resources well deployed. Also a well-continued tradition by the old GE Healthcare team now largely intact at Capital One – they put on one of the most diversely representative and well-attended receptions of the week that made staying put and hunkering down out of the rain seem better than all the other options.
Even though the closest I got to the official conference was maneuvering around the Joe Biden road closures, and that I did not hear any of the keynote speakers, the elevator and lobby buzz was again about solving the inefficiencies in healthcare and low mumblings about what repeal of the ACA will actually change. Possibly because of where I was staying, but pharma seemed to run almost as its own parallel universe in and around the main JPM events. In some hotels with the huge international contingents and pharma branding, you could have been forgiven for not knowing that there was any payor or provider attendance at all.
As for blockchain, there are a lot more people in healthcare who have now heard the word, but a surprising number who have either not heard the word or have no reference beyond Bitcoin. Hashed Health was spreading the good word all week through our own networks and with the help of kind invitations and introductions from friends and advocates. While fully acknowledging the number of forward-thinking and innovative companies thinking about how the blockchain can relieve their pain points, we still have our work cut out for us in industry C-suites. That said, as conversations started, the appetite to learn more was sincere. My takeaway is that we are on the right track – the virtues of blockchain are clear and the core strengths of blockchain neatly line up with the inefficiencies and friction that healthcare is going to be forced to address. The integrated patient record remains the daunting holy grail, but we must walk before we can run. There are plenty of pain points neatly addressed by the blockchain that will prove to healthcare that it is a solution worth pursuing. This year we attended JPM to introduce the possibilities and spread the word – we will be back next year to show how it is working. Stay tuned….