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“Connected Health Symposium” Showcases Innovation in Wearables and Other Technologies

With an eye on potential breakthroughs in patient care delivery—and a market forecasted to exceed $600B by 2024—over 1200 clinicians, entrepreneurs, researchers, policy makers, technologists, and investors will converge in Boston from October 20-21 at the 13th annual Connected Health Symposium.

The symposium, organized by Partners HealthCare, uniquely brings together these constituents every year to share their progress, discuss shared roadblocks, and plot a course for continued innovation.

Keynote speakers, group panels, technology demonstrations, and innovation challenges are all on the agenda for this year’s gathering.

Connected healthcare leverages technology—mobile phones and apps, remote monitoring tools, personal health trackers, sensors, computers and networked devices—to help providers and patients manage chronic conditions, maintain health and wellness, and improve adherence, engagement and clinical outcomes.

Connected health addresses a wide range of health challenges, from heart failure, hypertension and diabetes, to prenatal care, medication adherence, cancer pain management, teen asthma and smoking cessation.


Commercially, it encompasses everything from sleep quality monitors and sports watches to smart pill dispensers and connected glucometers.

We spoke briefly with Dr. Joe Kvedar, head of the Partners HealthCare Connected Health group and organizer of this year’s symposium. He leads a 70-person team charged with keeping Partners at the forefront of technology and healthcare and is the co-author of The Internet of Healthy Things.

Dr. Kvedar’s interest in connected health dates back over 20 years, to the earliest days of what’s now known as telemedicine. He believed as a clinician that healthcare should be available to people in the context of their everyday lives, not necessarily in a hospital or doctor’s office and not necessarily during traditional office hours.

By delivering care independent of time and place, Kvedar envisioned a disruptive force that could improve patient care, reduce unnecessary costs, generate useful data—and create exciting business opportunities for innovators.

Two decades later, Kvedar believes that Partners (and its 2 primary hospitals, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital) is widely seen as one of a handful of academic health systems at the forefront of connected health. Boston, he believes, is also a connected health force to be reckoned with, given the city’s long-established healthcare, education, and startup pillars. For both Boston and Partners, it’s a time for innovation, not complacency, Kvedar emphasizes.

So, what’s Dr. Kvedar most excited about at this year’s symposium? While coy about his favorite, he’s clearly enthused about all the keynotes, noting that he rarely sees such an elite and interesting group of thought leaders at a single event:

He’s also excited about the symposium’s panel discussions. Competition for these slots was fierce, Kvedar notes. The panels will run concurrently through the 2-day conference, making for tough decisions by attendees.

Pressed for some panel recommendations, Kvedar hedges but eventually suggests a few that he personally finds interesting. “Emotion Sensing: The Next Big Trend”, “Innovators Challenge Alumni: Where Are They Now?”, and “Alzheimers Case Study – Connecting Caregivers, Patients, and Clinical Trials” are top of mind.

He’ll also be participating as a panelist at the “How the Internet of Healthy Things is Improving Health Care” session and joining a book signing session.

Kvedar also gives a shout out to the 6th annual Innovators Challenge, a popular session that features 10 up and coming connected health startups, selected by a panel of industry experts and thought leaders. They’ll demonstrate their products in a rapid-fire, four and a half minute presentation and compete for recognition by the judges and audience.

Lastly, he encourages you to check out the finale of the Partners Connected Health Fit Mind Challenge on Thursday afternoon. After a keynote by the AARP’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Charlotte Yeh, the four finalists of the online challenge will pitch their ideas in front of a live panel of celebrity judges.

See you there?


James A. Gardner

James A. Gardner

James A. Gardner, @jamesagardner, is a Boston-area sales and marketing professional with a passion for consumer technologies and all things health, web & social. He started his career with Procter & Gamble before earning his MBA at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Since then, James has served senior clients as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, led complex digital projects with Boston-area agencies, and built several high-performing marketing teams. He’s also been published and quoted in multiple professional publications, most recently CMSWire, CIO.com, eHealthcare Strategy & Trends, and MedTech Boston.

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