The Health 2.0 Europe conference this time took place in Barcelona instead of London. Everybody was eagerly awaiting the new, Mediterranean location – and despite the spells of rain we encountered, the delegates seemed quite happy with the organizers’ choice!

Here is a roundup of the conference, which was bustling with anticipation of the next wave of digital health innovation from the continent and beyond.

Data, data… is everywhere in health

As is a common theme in Health 2.0 conferences, Indu Subaiya & Matthew Holt began by taking the stage and offering some context for delegates. The key message: we are moving to “data-driven healthcare”, with 3 kinds of data:

  • Individual data
  • Population data
  • Reference data

All of this data has to be collected, groomed, managed, and put into good use (as opposed to use against the person’s intentions or wishes).

The favorite map of Europe’s Health 2.0 chapters was, of course, not missing from this conference: the dots are growing in number and impact!

Health 2.0

Dr Homero Rivas: Keynote from the Valley

This year’s opening keynote was appropriately provided by Dr Homero Rivas, a surgeon from Stanford University with a special knack for ehealth. Among the themes of his presentation were the barriers for technology adoption in healthcare:

  • Economic
  • Technological
  • Battery life
  • Encryption / Privacy
  • Mindset
  • Health care providers
  • Patients
  • Universal access

In what was one of his most tweetable highlights, he showed research indicating that there will be 1.8 billion mHealth users by 2018. That, in turn, creates the need for some sort of regulation for healthcare apps, resulting in the recent broadening scope of FDA approvals to include them.

Dr Rivas’ particularly interesting anecdote on innovation was centered on the Oculus Rift, which was the foundation for Facebook’s acquisition of the corresponding company: Google decided to create a good-enough version made out of …cardboard, which was actually tested by Dr Rivas’ team.


Beyond the Pill: Pharma 2.0

In one of the broader-ranging discussions in the conference, executives from pharmaceutical companies shared their vision of adopting technology at scale. The consensus was that not only is this a requirement for “Pharma 2.0”, but that their organizations should reposition themselves and start facing outwards.

As Bayer’s Chief Digital Officer, Jessica Federer mentioned, her company’s focus is now the individuals, the patients – who are also “upgrading” themselves to their 2.0 version. Pharmaceutical companies should engage with them and attract them in order to understand their needs and build holistic solutions, not just treatments.

How are 15-year-olds spending their time in Barcelona?

Through the “GET Project”, an EU-funded program to support SMEs, we witnessed many startup efforts from across Europe.

Risking to sound biased, the most impressive initiative came from a small local team of 15-year-old students, who built 5€ bracelets to support healthcare needs.

And if you’re still not impressed, you may change your mind if you consider that their operation is actually profitable!


 Transforming a 150-year-old organization into a digital beachhead: Bayer Grants4Apps

Very few in the audience had not heard about Bayer’s competition Grants4Apps. The initiative has gathered much steam both internally and externally, attracting great interest from entrepreneurs and innovators around the world. Actually, as Jesus del Valle (Head of the Accelerator) had told me earlier, Germany is not even where the majority of proposals come from.

Women taking their (e)Health in their own hands

The second day of the conference started with a special panel on women’s health. Experts on the field offered their insights as entrepreneurs, innovators and executives. In what is perhaps the most lucid proof of women’s power in eHealth is that, as was shown, they use mobile apps much more than men, are are more engaged with these applications. 


Rockstart accelerator: Digital Health startups, we want you!

The next announcement was very exciting – especially for all entrepreneurs in the room: RockStart, the Dutch accelerator, described their new call for healthcare startups in detail. You can find more information about this promising initiative at the Rockstart Digital Health website – applications close on 19/7!

Demos, demos, and more demos!

No Health 2.0 conference is complete without its almost endless stream of demos – a feast for the eyes and the imagination! The solutions showcased ranged from tools for patient-doctor collaboration, to EHRs, to medical devices to apps, and more. There is certainly no lack of initiative and risk taking from these companies – soon to be part of Europe’s eHealth arsenal.


A growing ecosystem that can transform our lives

All in all, this was another successful conference from the global Health 2.0 organization. While the flagship conference is probably still considered to be the Santa Clara (California) one in the fall, the other ongoing ones are doing so well that the Health 2.0 conference …tour is constantly growing across all continents.

We are living in extraordinary times: the empowerment of patients and healthcare professionals is profound, and the ability to transform healthcare systems and infrastructure is unprecedented. It is exciting to be at the forefront of all this, and knowing that each individual effort can change people’s lives in unprecedented ways.

Looking forward to even more innovation, partnerships, and impact!

Thanos Kosmidis

Co-founder & CEO, CareAcross

Health 2.0 Athens chapter leader