A bit about Strata Rx: our goals, our content, and you

How our vision for this important conference is shaping the program we hope to present, and how you can get involved

After a strong inaugural event in October 2012, Strata Rx is heading into its second year. My fellow chair, Colin Hill, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing what we’d like to see on the program this year, and I thought I’d share some of those thoughts for anyone considering submitting a proposal or attending the event. (The Call for Proposals is currently open until April 10.)

One of the most interesting challenges in creating a program about data science in healthcare has been deciding what to leave out. Topics like genomics and cancer research are so vast and complex that they can and do have entire conferences about just them. While we won’t reject a talk for centering on a topic like this, it has to be relevant to one of our larger goals, as well.

What we hope to accomplish with Strata Rx

So what are those larger goals? Well, here are a few of the key ones.

Promote dialog across silos

Right now, there are already a lot of niche conferences for specific groups in healthcare. There are events for specific areas of research, such as oncology and genomics, as previously mentioned. There are also events for specific kinds of people, like pharmaceutical reps, or insurance providers. Those conferences that do cut across the industry are only for one level of people, such as Chief Officers.

We want Strata Rx to convene a broad swath of people with an interest and a stake in the healthcare system: researchers, funders, providers, application developers, patient advocates, board members, insurers, IT staff, legislators, and everyone in between. By starting conversations among these different specialists, and by combining their relative expertise, we believe we can build a stronger community that is better able to solve problems.

We aim to be fire-starters, igniting connections and conversations.

Help good ideas get the right attention

A significant benefit of getting such a diverse group of people together in one place is that with them come all their amazing ideas. At other conferences, this value comes out in the so-called “hallway track”: the spontaneous and serendipitous conversations and networking that happen outside of the official programs. Some attendees at industry events never see a single presentation; the hallway track is the main attraction.

We recognize the very real value of the hallway track at our events, too. But we also aim to make that value available more broadly and deliberately, by making connections and exposing synergies on stage, within the program. Sometimes, this takes the form of panel discussions or interviews (last year, we had a memorable on-stage conversation between Tim O’Reilly and Vinod Khosla). Other times, it may take the form of a single presenter, but one who wouldn’t typically appear to a similar audience or wouldn’t ordinarily present on a given topic.

We aim to be spotlights, shining attention on ideas that matter.

Advocate for important things

O’Reilly Media occupies a unique position with regard to these ideas. We sit outside the healthcare space; we are not inherently part of that system. As outsiders, we have some things to learn, and we’ve been busy doing our homework. But outsider status also enables us to bring a fresh perspective to things, and perhaps to be a bit provocative, discussing things that those inside or dependant on the industry prefer not to highlight.

Of course, the industry in which we are entrenched has a new relevance to healthcare, and we bring with us both that expertise and a long history of advocacy and leadership within our field, as well as within related fields such as open government. Topics like data liquidity and patient engagement are right up our alley, and we hope to make a significant impact on some of these areas. As we continue to learn from our speakers, attendees, and sponsors, we will remain on the lookout for other areas in which we can make a significant impact.

We aim to be bridge-builders, using our unique skills and connections to make progress possible.

Topics of focus

With those goals in mind, here are the topics that Colin and I hope to feature in this year’s Strata Rx program. We invite you to contemplate these with us and, if you have ideas and insights to share, to submit a proposal before April 10.

Data Liquidity

Data liquidity refers to activities that increase the availability and flow of data. This term is frequently used in regard to patient data, but can really refer to any kind of data. There are unique challenges in healthcare to moving patient data and other information easily and securely, and systems for making this easier are still emerging. The development of appropriate standards is a significant component to this issue.

Some sub-topics that we hope to discuss include:

  • The role of foundations, governments, and NGOs in spurring data collection and sharing
  • Acceleration of data’s liquidity, exchange, and interoperability
  • Crowd-sourced data generation and sharing of patient data
  • Electronic health and medical records adoption (and the impact of HITECH)
  • The impact of HIPAA and patient privacy in the age of Facebook
  • Data-driven population health, public health, and epidemiology

BioMedical Research and Drug Development

As gene sequencing becomes faster and more affordable, and other kinds of research progress rapidly as well, there is a lot to say about computation, analysis, and diagnostics. This work contributes to the goal of personalized medicine: the delivery of specific solutions (whether care or prevention) for each patient on an individual or small-group basis.

Some sub-topics that we hope to discuss include:

  • Discovery of disease mechanisms, drug targets, and drug mechanisms
  • Big data innovations in biomedical research
  • Discovery of predictive biomarkers to stratify patients in clinical trials
  • Discovery and use of molecular diagnostics from next-generation DNA sequencing and multi-‘omic and clinical data

Evidence-Based Care & Value-Based Reimbursement

This work also contributes to the goal of personalized medicine. Where research and development is about having flexible solutions on hand, evidence-based care is about delivering those solutions in an appropriate and efficient manner. The more targeted our care becomes, the more value providers deliver. Value-based reimbursement is about measuring and rewarding those successful outcomes.

Some sub-topics that we hope to discuss include:

  • Data-driven, point-of-care decision support tools for providers
  • Next-gen disease management
  • Comparative effectiveness research and health economics
  • ACO case studies
  • Identifying and removing waste and harm
  • Prediction of adverse events

Patient Engagement and Consumerism

As data collection and management becomes more accessible to everyone, patients are becoming more savvy and more involved in their own health: both its monitoring and its treatment. They are also making more choices about which treatments and trade-offs they prefer, and sharing information among themselves on a variety of general and disease-specific sites. This engagement and consumerism is going to change the system dramatically as it becomes more and more common.

Some sub-topics that we hope to discuss include:

  • Patient behavior change including the use of gamification, social media, etc.
  • Use of mobile health (mHealth) and quantified self
  • Role of consumerism in remaking the healthcare landscape
  • Price transparency and its effect on consumer engagement
  • State and city innovations/healthy cities

Deal-Flow in Health IT and Healthcare Big Data

As companies and organizations become more attuned to the role of big data in healthcare, interesting partnerships and other business deals are forming. Understanding the changing nature of the industry requires understanding these shifting alignments. So we want to keep tabs on the more significant aspects of deal-flow in healthcare, and also to facilitate partnerships that will benefit everyone.

Some sub-topics that we hope to discuss include:

  • Recent mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
  • Potential IPOs coming up in 2013-2014
  • Venture financing
  • Strategic alliance deals

If you don’t wish to present on these topics, but are interested in learning more and being a part of the networking that will take place at Strata Rx, we hope you will attend. Registration will open in May, so keep an eye on the website or Twitter.

Strata Rx will take place on September 25-27, 2013 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place in Boston, Massachusetts.

Strata Rx Heath Data Conference — Strata Rx brings together the diverse communities driving innovations in big data analytics for health care. Learn about the transformation of health care through big data and how to position your company to benefit from these trends. Learn more.
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