SXSW Interactive 2016 MedTech

We recently attended SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, TX. It deserved a musing.

Enjoy. Click the pdf here to download PVMSXSW2016

Last week Piercing View attended the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend, you should.  It was an impressive display of leading indicators of realistic disruptions that we did not expect, to be frank.Although the conference is not a traditional display of activities/innovations of publicly traded companies we focus on, it was nonetheless valuable;  in particular given our current focus on Health Care – Medical Technology disruptions.Given that our next industry IoE report is focused on evaluating 60+ S&P Medical Device companies, it proved to be a timely event.  We focused the bulk of our time attending the MedTech ‘track’ at SXSW.  MedTech TrackIt proved to be worth our investment.  Our multiple take-away’s are too numerous to detail crisply in this Piercing View musing.   If you see a presentation/speaker that compels you to dig in further, shoot us a line;  we will be happy to share our detailed notes of that session.
In the spirit of relative brevity, below are our top 10 take-away’s and highlights for each.    Not in order of importance, but does flow with a storyline that emerged after collecting our thoughts post-conference.  Keep in mind that MedTech was our focus this year at SXSW Interactive.  As you might note if you browse the entirety of the schedule of events, the opportunities can be overwhelming.  Focus is key.


# 1:  IoE is not at peak of inflated expectations;  it is rapidly maturing into real use cases, real results, and blowing through the traditional trough of disillusionment phase and  into slope of enlightenment.  It might be a faster ride to real results and disruption than anticipated  (see: gartner hype cycle).  IoT, IoE, Industrial Internet, 3rd Wave, connected life, sensor systems, etc etc is absolutely here and in many cases dominates the conversation.Highlights:

·         Jean & Steve Case (AOL): 3rd wave (industrial internet) is different that 2nd wave (internet) and similar to 1st wave (industrial revolution).  Bridge entrepreneurs and larger companies; more broad based innovation, diversity, and impact.  Cooperation & partnerships between the big and the small is key in the 3rd wave

·         Under Armour,  CEO Kevin Plank:  Connected life products (sense, monitor, make you a better performer).  Acquiring technology companies for data/device insights

·         Updates across Precision Medicine, Bioelectronics, and John Hagel’s (Deloitte) findings; each of his disruption examples used IoT scenario as the enabler

Gartner hype

Case foundation


The Third Wave


Under Armour ‘Data is Key’


Thriving on Disruption

 2:  Med Tech is on fire.  From startup pitches to industry luminaries, it proved to be somewhat overwhelming, inspiring, disorienting and in some cases discouraging


·         SXSW accelerator program diverse in its solutions and attempting to solve for ‘big problems’, not frivolous

·         XPRIZE Tricorder prize update presentation was not only interesting in its ambition, but also in the collaboration between Qualcomm & Kaiser Permanente

·         “Version 2.0” incremental improvements to ‘old’ health technology:  telemedicine, pulmonary health, stethoscope … discouraging that large providers/insurers stick mostly with old tech even when medical and financial ‘value proposition’ is better with new.  Challenge for incremental innovators

SXSW Medtech competition

Murgency (sxsw winner)



IGGBO:  Uber labs



SXSW V2.0 HC Panel

Cohero Health



3d respiratory device

 3.  The depth and breadth of rapidly emerging solutions to chronic diseases is a transformational sea change.  In aggregate, the innovations presented in one panel session after another gave cautious optimism that they could overcome so many of the intractable industry (Health Care) structural barriers we have become accustomed to facing.Highlights:

·         Solving for radically new approaches such as genomics (genome editing), bioelectronics, ingestible sensors.  Precision medicine; e.g. Genome sequencing and editing at the molecular level for $1000 (Sculley)

·         Bioelectronics:  medicine without pills.  The internet of the body;  A ‘nest’ for your body nervous system that can be dynamically controlled. (this was most likely the most compelling session of all)

·         Advances in semiconductors; “we are operating with stone age tools”  Ingestible microchips, haptic, non invasive to manage nervous system (Voit)

·         Ingestible sensors (Chronothera, Proteus Digital Health) for medical adherence, dosage management

·         Virtual physicians:  Augmented reality, virtual reality, body computing.  (USC r&d)

·         Brain computer interfaces:  Implant microchip in brain motor cortex to generate movement

·         XPRIZE Tricorder attempting to monitor 13 disorders and 5 vital health signals.  7 finalist teams working on final prototypes for $10M prize

·         Early detection in cancer diagnosis – (e.g Cologuard/ExactSciences)

·         On demand chemical composition sensors

Gene editing/Crispr Cas9

Inner Space panel

Cala Health

GSK Moncef Slaoui


Proteus Digital Health


SXSW Panel Virtual Physicians


SXSW Hacking the brain




Food sensor (glutten)


 4.  Diversity of activities across disciplines to improve health outcomes – outside the traditional approaches –  points to new energy, investments, outcome focus.


·         Home sweet home: “recreate the home not the hospital”.  We are hard wired to respond to nature, therefore create health generating environment spaces

·         Gamification of health services keep seniors (yes, seniors) engaged, connected, engaged, living with purpose.  Health happens at home

·         Rethinking HC through design:  new models for medical care for better and proactive HC; integrated delivery system for the underserved and design interventions in the community not in the hospital (could Austin be a model?)

Inspiring Panel


Karten Design

Senior Application

Austin’s Design Institute of Health

 5  Is ‘wave 1’ of IoE adoption using pattern recognition, aka Big Data, for behavioral health and diagnostics/screening?  Power of healthcare data – consumer engaged.


·         Smart home & behavioral analytics could be ‘wave 1’ of interconnectedness (Rhew from Samsung)

·         “No, you did not sleep well last week.  Your body temperature is higher than usual.  Go see your doc now”

·         Amazon Echo getting good reviews from HC practitioners – has a chance to be the IoT home hub

·         Many health monitoring software platforms emerging solve the data ‘riddle’.  Eg tied to biometric sensors

·         Power of data and insights if patient is receptive and engaged across pillars for wellbeing.  DIY health:  sleep, stress mgmt, movement, emotions, nutrition:  “in God I trust, everyone else bring data”

·         1 drop of blood enough data to ‘fill a laptop’; can be used for most early stage detection (beacons) of pathogens  “We spend $100/B yr on drugs, very little on diagnostics& screening)”;  genomics, immunotherapy vaccines

·         Portable, simple, affordable, accurate device/implantables  emerging rapidly – we are at tipping point in chemical data capture in particular


Amazon Echo

Sano Data


hope lab

SXSW Hacking for healing panel

SXSW – New Cancer Tech Panel



 Technology industry is invited – if not demanded! – to actively lead the next wave of Health Care structureHighlights:

·         Drumbeat referencing Samsung, Qualcomm, Google, Amazon, Apple, Oracle, Cisco, etc. as needed participants for next wave.  This was from startups to established practitioners across panels and pitches

·         Clearly nearly all the above are very focused/even carving out business lines to focus on health tech .  That said, other than Samsung, they were not active at SXSW Med Tech

Google’s Verily
 7  Surprising consensus/acknowledgment of a broken Health Care delivery system


·         Sculley/Patil:  On demand ‘quantified self’.  Affordable care Act (ACA/Obamacare) will fundamentally transform virtual care;  Accountable care with outcome motivation is a game changer.   Chronic care:  5% of treatment needs/patients, drives 50% of costs

·         “Need disruption & innovation to replace dinosaurs”  Quote directly from Thomas Feeley (MD Anderson).  HC value revolution transforming business models; shifting from volume to value.  A challenging time for providers where emphasis is on care, not health with a fragmented payment models and ‘defensive medicine’;  primary driver of dysfunction is lack of competition based on value (ACA used the term ‘value’ 235 times, never defined it)

·         Limits of use of new cancer screening tools:  education, regulatory, screening guidelines, costs/’iffy coverage’:   “Financial Model is upside down; Medicare is bottleneck”


SXSW Panel

SXSW Panel Value Revolution HC


Sam Hanash (Anderson Center)




 8  Health care industry composition of teams for success very different in this new dynamic



·         Data scientists:  Moving to a world of massive scale of data that needs to be structured, shared, collaborated upon, managed … etc

·         Software/User Experience expertise:  Behavioral outcomes rely on workflow, user delight, user engagement … a design.  This is of course absolutely a radical idea for health care

·         More investment needed and more complex, but bigger impact:  teams will include hardware system integrator, design requirements government affairs expert, value based pricing business model tracking, mechanical engineers, chemical experts, etc.  I.e very different than current teams

 New Austin Medical Center:  could it become the ‘petri dish’ that is needed to innovate, experiment, tweak, for future of HC delivery and become replicable model?Highlights:

·         Austin, 9% of 2015 VC funding ($90M) directed to medtech startups.

·         Dell medical school is ‘rethinking everything’ with the UT medical district

Austin’s Design Institute of Health

Dell Medical Center


 10  Incumbents have a choice: engage to accelerate advances, or possibly loose market dominance in medium term


·         St Jude, Boston Scientific, and others were present; noticeable defensiveness in some of their questions in a few of the panels

·         Hard to underestimate the impact, talent, other large interested parties that XPRIZE types of events brings to the solution set.  Are they attracting the next generation MedTech talent, ideas, funding?  Perhaps

·         FDA, Medicare and other barriers to entry:  found it interesting that although it did come up as a bottleneck for innovators, startups, practitioners alike, it did seem that the FDA and other regulatory bodies were collaborating/engaging more than in past with new models of engagement

Best, Serge, Piercing View

2017-10-06T20:46:19+00:00 03.24.2016|POV|