Reflecting on J.P. Morgan 29th Annual Healthcare Conference

January 17th, 2011
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As one of the nearly 8,500 attendees at this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, I’m not alone in recording my observations. However, while the crowds and the climate are still fresh in my mind, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share some of my key takeaways. If you were there, please feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section. If you weren’t, let me know if you have any questions about a point I’ve made or curiosity you had about the conference that I haven’t covered.
Also, whether you attended or not, you may want to check out the ruminations of’s Adam Feuerstein who blogged “live” from the conference as well as In Vivo’s Blog on the subject and the prose of the IR Report’s Dominic Jones.
My observations:

  • Fire codes be damned: Attendance was up significantly from last year with the number of registrants approaching 8,500 compared to closer to 7,200 last year. It is difficult to imagine that the Westin could accommodate any more people, yet apparently there is unyielding resistance to a change of venue. I think this is a case where tradition trumps fire code.
  • Optimism prevailed: Or, more to the point, everyone we talked to expressed their opinions that “there seems to be a greater sense of optimism.” To the extent that economics is, in large, a measure of a function of human behavior, this “sense of optimism” may be good enough to get things moving in the right direction again.
  • Realism in Health IT: Among the health IT companies, I noted a sense of realism. Some executives in this space acknowledged that the federal stimulus funding directed to their industry – rather than the must-have nature of their products – may be a primary reason for the growing interest in that space.
  • mHealth wasn’t in the house: One thing that we did not see or hear much about was mobile health, probably reflecting the public company nature of this event. Most of the activity in the mHealth space is dominated by privates or large publics for whom mHealth is a tiny piece of their life science business.
  • Moving systems closer to point of care: Part of the mHealth story is increasing efficiency, often at the patient or consumer level. Efficiency was a feature mentioned by several instrument companies looking for ways to move systems closer to point of care.
  • Social networks playing a role in wellness: Finally, though the conference was largely dominated by pharmaceuticals, devices, and research tools, there seemed to be an uptick in the number of mentions of wellness and the role of healthy behaviors and decisions in preventing disease and illness. The power of social networks to effect behavioral change is clearly a part of this mix.

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About the Author:

I co-founded Popper and Company more than ten years ago to help life science companies at all stages of development and of all sizes address inefficiencies in health care. Along with my team members, I focus on helping clients develop and implement strategies that enable the application of technology and processes to improve health care in novel ways, often through the establishment of relationships with industry partners. Click to send me an email.