Top 10 Takeaways From #SXSW2014: Part One

As I did in 2013 for SXSW, here are five of my Top 10 Takeaways from #SXSW2014 that can be applied to healthcare! Stay tuned for the remaining five later this week…

1) Storytelling for Change-From Storytelling for Change: A Decade of Impact put on by Participant Media (Waiting for Superman, The Help, Food, Inc.) to The Secrets Behind Addictive Storytelling to A Conversation with Jon Favreau (@jonfavereau) on the release of his new movie Chef (trailer below), brand builders and filmmakers shared tips and success stories throughout the week on projects that have gone viral, and others that have entertained audiences around the globe. As a writer and believer that good stories move mountains, I gravitated to those who told their own authentic stories versus those using story to move products. While many have been using story to sell and manipulate, good storytellers, filmmakers and change organizers know that the real movement occurs when we write from the heart to the heart.

2) The Doctor’s Office is Changing-In the session, Doctors Offices on Their Deathbeds, Dennis Schmuland MD from Microsoft and Gautam Gulati MD (@drgautamgulati) among others led a panel looking at what can be accomplished when providers and patients collaborate to stay well versus treat illness. The idea of flipping the clinic in light of data acquisition and transfer via wearable technology (think FitBit) and better designed health IT systems will put pertinent information about patients in the hands of providersĀ  before they enter the clinic. This will allow clinic time to be spent developing a better understanding by both of how to stay well, treat chronic illness and stay out of the healthcare system. In the future, that provider may be a virtual physician or an avatar according to the panel in the session, The Avatar Will See You Now.

3) Wearable Tech-Fitbit, Nike and Jawbone all had a presence at SXSW and everywhere you turned, a different developer was trying to slap a new device on your wrist, touting the benefits of “owning your own data” and “the quantified self”. While I’m the first to admit I love my Fitbit–a constant reminder that I’m sitting at the keyboard too long each day–wearable technology is here to stay and entrepreneurial physicians, health tech start-ups, the government and computer scientists all see the opportunity these devices hold. Whether health IT infrastructure develops the flexibility to communicate with the rest of the world or not, a multitude of data points are already being collected by the innovative organizations openly embracing what consumers/patients want. Look for this movement to gain traction, driven both by consumers/patients and those involved in the redesign of healthcare.

4) Patient Engagement/Ownership-Following on the wearable tech movement, all health panels I attended mentioned the need for patient engagement and ownership of their health and wellness. Those with a FitBit or FuelBand are already on the band wagon, and most likely aren’t the ones taxing the current healthcare system. But as the over-arching healthcare model shifts to one where providers are paid to keep patients out of the clinic, where will that leave those with literacy challenges, or a chronic illness that affects motivation and cognitive capacity? These are two sides to this same coin, and as we move forward by placing increased responsibility on patients, how will we ensure we don’t leave the less engaged for whatever reason behind?

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.22.08 AM5) Develop A Content Strategy-In Go Home Marketing, Your Drunk, Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson) led a hilarious session, educating and entertaining a ballroom spilling over with fans and followers. Wanting to move to the next great thing in content development is great, but do you have a strategy? In her experience, many clients come to her looking to run before they can walk. Fix your sh@#! was the takeaway here. Know what you have, develop a plan and then embrace all the innovations in content design and development. For those who couldn’t attend, her book, Content Strategy for the Web, could be a good substitute. If nothing else, I highly recommend downloading a copy of her slides from slideshare here.


Telling Stories at the Heart of #SXSW2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 12.08.15 PMOur ETY storytelling series often includes tips and examples of good storytelling for healthcare leaders who wish to embrace the power of story to change healthcare for the better. At #SXSW this past week, I attended more than one session focused on the power of story in both brand building and filmmaking–all of which provided takeaways easily incorporated into the work of telling our healthcare stories. One such session was put on by the NYTimes Op-Doc producers. Op-Docs is a series of short films submitted by both established and up-and-coming filmmakers, covering health, the arts, science, world news, tech, sports, opinion and more.

One of the Op-Docs short films covers an interview with writer/director/lead actor Jon Favereau (@JonFavreau) for the movie Chef, which premiered at #SXSW. The film, which includes an all-star cast, inspires the audience to do what they love–one of my Top 10 Takeaways from #SXSW2014 to come in a post next week. In a #SXSW session dedicated to a conversation with the filmmaker, Favereau told the audience he used to work on Wall Street and was sadly uninspired, giving to the job only what he absolutely had to in order to get through another day. It was when he committed to a career in filmmaking that he found his passion, along with the desire to put all of himself into his work. As evidence of that commitment, he shared that he wrote the script for Chef in only 2 weeks, explaining how the story took hold of him and he couldn’t stop writing until it was finished. To hear more of his thoughts on the film and his own filmmaking process, view the NYTimes Op-Docs interview with Favereau atĀ NYTimes Op-Docs Chef. And go see the film if you get the chance — it’s truly one of those “feel good” movies!

Check out NYTimes Op-Docs for storytelling ideas here, but beware…the content will pull you in, and keep you on the site far longer than intended.