A Recap of the 2015 Rock Health Summit

By Natalie Cann,

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Being squarely in our busy event season and just off the heels of Rock Health Summit, I wanted to give a quick recap and add a few observations about our recent experience at the Summit before we head into the Health 2.0 Code-a-thon this weekend and Health 2.0 starting Monday.


The Summit kicked off with a couple of VIP Innovation tours, first at Zenefits, then at Grand Rounds, both in the burgeoning startup district of SOMA San Francisco. The visit at Zenefits turned out to be less of a “tour” and more of an ushering past the throngs of people and rows of desks that had exploded in the past two years, to a back area training room where a brief company history was delivered by their VP of Marketing, Matt Epstein. For those living under a rock, Zenefits is one of the fastest growing BenAdmin startups in the Digital Health space, having grown to 1700+ employees and 10K+ customers in the past 2 years with over $500M in venture capital funding to date.

The next visit was at Grand Rounds where we were greeted by a chic, urban lobby, and shown past beautiful conference rooms and a gourmet kitchen, presumably all to please and attract the increasingly demanding San Francisco talent pool. While being fed a gourmet lunch, we heard a moving story about Katie who, not unlike myself, had been herded for years unsuccessfully through the fragmented healthcare system without a proper diagnosis. I was intrigued and impressed by the whole experience and everyone I met. 

Once at the conference I was pleased with the content and fascinating speakers and decided to take some cliff notes on the main themes and takeaways.

  1. Digital Health investment is about the long game. Because of friction including regulatory environments and long healthcare sales cycles, start-ups in the digital health space need more patience and resilience than consumer tech startups before finding wild success. Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital drove this point home in a hilarious and curse-filled diatribe about the importance of long-term focused investing in healthcare.
  2. Interoperability, Data/Analytics, Value-based care were the hot topics de jour - Patient Engagement was so 2 years ago. More and more we are seeing startups emerging to solve for these common pain points for the large Health Systems - companies like Strennus, Evolent Health, Collective Health, etc. are new players taking the landscape by storm.
  3. Genomics and Longevity are at the dawn of their breakthroughs - 15 years from now we may have the technology to live beyond 150 years, but is that socially responsible? PhDs like J. Craig Venter were among the authorities present to deliberate on this topic.
  4. The Big Four (United Health Group, Anthem, Aetna and Cigna) are more open than ever to innovation and new solutions to stay competitive. Most were in attendance and thirsty for new solutions for evolving problems in a post-Affordable Care Act world. Right now the opportunity is ripe for emerging players.
  5. Some startups were struggling to find talent, some to stay afloat with limited funds - all were looking for solutions to save on costs and get to uptime and production more quickly. PokitDok has those solutions in spades through our API Platform, and more and more start-ups were taking notice.

In the end, for me as the VP of Marketing at PokitDok tasked with growing our API presence with the Digital Health and startup community, it was a great opportunity to see how our customers and prospects were thinking about the space, what their needs were and what they looked like face-to-face. The great food, company and messages were just icing on the cake! Now, I’m even more excited to kick off our presence next week at Health 2.0 and speak to even more prospective customers and API users in person.


About Natalie Cann

A 16-year veteran in digital marketing, Natalie Cann is PokitDok's Vice President of Marketing. Recognized for her innovative growth strategies, she came most recently from WellnessFX (acquired Dec 2013), where she served as Vice President of Marketing. Prior to that she managed global customer acquisition programs for top brands like American Express and Ask.com, but also maintains a track record of helping to bring successful start-ups to market, such as Marin Software (IPO March 2013). Cann holds a BS in Business Management from Brigham Young University.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are of the authors and not of PokitDok's. The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice.

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