SXSW Interactive 2015 Looks to the Future of MedTech

sxsw-interactive-logoThe annual South By Southwest Interactive Conference took place in Austin this week, featuring hundreds of panels, workshops, and speakers addressing everything from content marketing and social media management to the future of wearable devices, to 3D bio-printing human organs (it’s coming!).

This year’s event featured a growing health technology presence, with the first ever SXSW MedTech Expo and dedicated MedTech Stage. According to the experts at SXSW, the future of MedTech isn’t wearables — it’s connectivity.

Patients are becoming empowered for the first time in history to control their own health data and to become a true participant in their own healthcare experience.

Mark Prince, VP of Consumer Business at Withings, explains that many current wearable devices actually create barriers to adoption by their very nature — requiring regular charging to function properly, for example — and outlines why Withings has designed a wearable activity tracker that looks like (and has the battery life of) a traditional watch.

“In order to truly promote adoption,” Prince says, “products must integrate effortlessly into people’s lives.”

Consumer empowerment was one of the overarching trends at this year’s SXSW Interactive conference, with dozens of top medical professionals and entrepreneurs lending their expertise. Several speakers emphasized the growing importance of transparency throughout the healthcare industry, and criticized the current lack of accessibility for the average patient.

Dean of the new University of Texas Medical School, Clay Johnston, spoke of the broken nature of our current healthcare delivery systems, and emphasized the need for “a better ecosystem for health innovation,” explaining that the U.S. healthcare model must shift to rewarding and incentivizing value, not simply volume.

While trends toward cost transparency have been emerging for a few years, David Norris, CEO of MD Insider, Inc., stresses that the future of healthcare lies in performance transparency.

“Performance is not about cost,” Norris explains. “It’s about effectiveness over time.”

We can analyze athletes’ stats ad nauseum when making decisions in Fantasy Football, Norris points out, or read countless restaurant reviews online when picking a new place for date night — why can’t we do the same with medical professionals?

Norris envisions a future where healthcare consumers can research doctor’s performance and familiarity with specific illnesses and procedures before making a buying decision and entering a hospital.

For more information on SXSW Interactive, visit the conference website.

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