The T-shirted revolutionaries converge with the corporate suits. HIMSS has acquired the ten-year-old Health 2.0 conference organization. It will be operated as a strategic business unit, retaining its name within HIMSS. Current CEO Indu Subayia, MD, will join HIMSS as EVP of the Health 2.0 business unit. Co-chairman Matthew Holt is taking a more freewheeling role as a ‘globe-trotting ambassador’, co-hosting and developing the international conferences currently held in India, Barcelona Spain, and Japan. He will also co-host the US annual and Wintertech meetings in the Bay Area. Transaction terms were not disclosed.
Health 2.0 was originally founded as a ‘bleeding edge’ networking community of misfit tech developers, IT gearheads, clinician renegades, startup newbies, and intense patient advocates, soon joined by marketers, communicators, funders, journalists, academics, and others who for various reasons wanted to be part of The Shock of the New. Over time, the small gatherings of the tribes (a/k/a chapters and annual meetings) grew ever larger, along with the startups growing up (or flaming out) and increased corporate interest, while Health 2.0 developed into a sizable conference, media, and innovation consulting company with a claimed 50,000 members. HIMSS has always represented, in their CEO Steve Lieber’s words, the “more established, fully adopted technology arena”. With the acquisition, HIMSS “now has much more of a portfolio to help drive better health through IT” and, of course, a deep well of resources including dues (and sponsor/exhibit) paying companies and members.
Health 2.0 will be expanding their conference schedule and into “additive products and services” such as MarketConnect, introduced at the 2016 annual meeting as a broker for startups/emerging tech to connect with larger customers and partners, and the Digital Health Marketplace with the NY Economic Development Commission (NYEDC). Developing these services will “lower barriers, increasing access and then being a conduit for larger established organizations to tap into that early stage technology community,” according to Dr Subayia. (Update: The Catalyst division, which runs sponsored challenges, code-a-thons, and pilot programs, is not part of this transaction but will work closely with the conference team, per a Health 2.0 email 20 April.)
By expanding to the early-stage health tech community, it refreshes HIMSS, in Mr Lieber’s words, with “new directions”. They also acquire two high-profile globally-known figures in the health tech field.
Those in the health tech community are asking:
- Will this truly create an ecosystem that benefits startups and early to mid-stage health tech, fostering innovation investment–or will it accelerate the big company acquisition trend already present in the past three years?
- Will the conferences, to date fairly freewheeling affairs, change to the buttoned-up HIMSS corporate model? Many categories of attendees (e.g. full-time physicians, caregivers, volunteers) have been admitted free or at greatly discounted rates. The meetings, speakers, and networking were the focus, with exhibits and sponsorships available but in the background. Or will some of these meetings merge?
- And what of the over 75 worldwide Health 2.0 chapters, many of which charge minimal memberships and meeting fees, versus HIMSS chapters which require substantial national corporate/individual memberships to join? Will there be cooperation? What will the chapter relationship be with the now HIMSS-owned Health 2.0 in future? (Disclosure: this Editor is active in the Health 2.0 NYC chapter as a volunteer co-organizer/host)