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And You Think Health Care Is Complicated

And You Think Health Care Is Complicated

You may have never been to a medical conference or a scientific meeting, but I have, and I’ll tell you they are something to behold.


This past week I hosted a group of medical society executives to talk about the challenges and opportunities they are facing with the physicians, nurses, researchers, academics, medical students, residents and a myriad of other cohorts in the communities they serve.


Why should you care? Well, for starters, we all want the finest medical care, scientific research and diagnostic technology, as well as the best-trained and informed medical professionals, when we’re sick or a loved one needs treatment or care.


Now, here’s the problem. Like most conferences, all of these events were conceived in the last century. A few began over 100 years ago. And the truth is, not much has changed.


There is more technology in a grocery store than most scientific conferences. Amazon spends 12% of sales on technology; the grocery industry spends 3%. It’s not hard to imagine why Whole Foods is now the food retailer to beat.


I spoke to Shal Jacobovitz, the very successful CEO of the American College of Cardiology, who told me for his conference it’s about eyeballs, not butts in seats. He’s taking his event to his audience, not just waiting for them to come to him. Smart!


Three big ah-ha’s you might care about:


  1. The organizational structure of most medical and scientific societies doesn’t support a strategy that wins the battle for the time, attention and demands of a busy medical professional. The boards of directors, volunteers, committees and often calcified bureaucracies are stifling risk, innovation and the change required to reinvent an old model of learning and scientific advancement.
  2. New, commercial medical and health conferences are setting a new standard. HLTH 2018, launching in May, is a great example of a business model that has already disrupted the financial services and retail industries. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself; it’s real.
  3. The core reason to attend all live events is changing. Medical education is so ubiquitous, free and more convenient than ever. It’s no longer the raison d’être it once was. A new center of gravity is required to attract an audience, and it’s not just networking, poster sessions or a trade show.


Our healthcare system is made better, our science is advanced, and the quality of life for each of us, our society and our planet is better because of the people who choose the professions that study and care for all of us.


Leaders of professional societies and medical associations are responsible for convening, educating, and advancing the work we all count on.


There are a lot of courageous executives and leaders who are changing the game, and, in so doing, changing how our physicians, scientists and researchers improve the quality of life.


If you’re one of these leaders, thank you. If not, there’s no better moment than now to get started.