This week, we’re taking a look at the top news and health care related updates that came out of SXSW 2015. The SX Health and MedTech Expo took place on March 16th and 17th and promoted creativity, innovation and collaboration in the healthcare space, featuring over 60 companies from around the world creating healthcare technology platforms.
At SXSW, brands are creating engaging experiences through gamification, combining technology, wellness and exercise to maximize fitness trends. Cycling phenomenon SoulCycle was in Austin to give attendees an active break between sessions – and to plug their new app. Digital fitness program Radius (owned by NBC) hosted fitness classes during the conference to showcase their fitness platform, complete with badges, superstar fitness instructors, and a constant rotation of new routines. These brands are partnering with the likes of giant tech and fitness companies, like Spotify (with SoulCycle) and Under Armour (with Radius) to further extend their reach, demonstrating how health and tech are merging quickly as of late.
Apple is making waves with their new platform, ResearchKit, which is buzzing with potential; everything from cancer research to drug development could be impacted and furthered by the open-source platform. ResearchKit will tie personal data with medicine to advance public health goals, like tracking the spread of the flu, for example. The only catch? Companies and consumers must share access to their data to achieve research goals, and similarly, researchers have to figure out how to analyze data from various companies and consumers to accelerate change.
Ten digital health and medical device companies worked on an initiative with children’s hospitals during SX Health Tech, identifying ways to solve health care challenges. Examples range from how to deal with night terrors to how to detect kidney stones to how to monitor fetal health through wearables. The pitching event had two purposes: to help hospitals identify technologies that could be potentially be used and commercialized, and to provide a way for entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to hospitals.
In 2014, funding for health-related startups was $3.5 billion; by 2017, it is expected to increase to $6.5 billion. As a result, SXSW created the first ever Health Tech conference to capitalize on the surge in the industry, highlighting apps, services, and devices. Gadgets like AmpStrip, a small adhesive designed to track heart rate, and Beddit, which tracks sleep via a device planted on a mattress, demonstrate the wide array of new products changing the health and tech space.
Mark Cuban, billionaire investor known for his role on the ABC show “Shark Tank,” argues that entrepreneurs have a better shot at reaching consumers, rather than trying to get their platforms into hospitals. Cuban also voiced a strong opinion about sensors, noting they’re the next big opportunity since companies like Theranos (which partners with Walgreens) make it easier for people to manage and gain insight about their health without going directly to doctors or hospitals.