CES Makes a Healthcare Splash

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , January 15, 2013

The data is out there. We only have to decide to use it.

Everywhere we go, we leave "data exhaust." It starts when you wake up and check your phone. Now there's a record that this guy's no longer asleep. Like little bread crumbs, we are our own life recorders. Our phones know where we go and how long it takes to get there.

On the Internet, our intentions are exquisitely captured by a series of privacy-bending technologies that watch our surfing and searching history and tailor ads personally to us. I can't tell you how ads for vendor-neutral archives find me even when I'm checking ESPN, but given what I do for a living, I can hazard a guess.

There is one and only one place each year where the tech-minded assemble to swap stories and gawk at the latest manifestations of the digital fishbowl that is our total lives today. So I too found my way to Las Vegas for last week's Consumer Electronics Show, which also featured conferences-within-conferences on digital health, fitness technology, and technologies for seniors.

I've watched these mini-conferences incubating for the past four years, but this was the year they blew up. That's good—it means they're growing like crazy.

This was the first year that one of the biggest exhibitors at the Digital Health Summit was a healthcare payer. You heard that right—United Healthcare had a huge booth at CES, not to be outdone by Aetna, which grabbed the spotlight at last year's South by Southwest Interactive.

The HIMSS conference this was not. United's booth was dominated by a stage where "Dance Dance Revolution" songs blared and booth staff, attendees, and even United Healthcare Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs Reed V. Tuckson worked up a sweat before our interview with some fancy steps.

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