Haas Healthcare Conference to Bridge Industry and Innovation


What if technology could help doctors forecast spikes in particular illnesses—say, the flu—and prepare them to provide better care? There could be an app for that, which is why a team of students have shaped this year’s Berkeley-Haas Healthcare Conference around the themes of technology and innovation.

A sold-out crowd of more than 500 students and industry professionals are expected for the 9th annual conference at UCSF’s Mission Bay Conference Center on Nov. 6.

“This year, we’re focusing on how technology innovation and design can change the future of healthcare—for example, using data analysis to predict when patients will require care over the course of their lives,” says Ramya Babu, MBA 16, and marketing co-chair for the Haas Healthcare Association, which organized the conference. “Our goal is to highlight the connection between industry research and healthcare practice through the use of digital technology.”

Along those lines, the conference will feature a digital design challenge focused on Type 2 diabetes. The contest is unfolding in three stages: a hackathon on Oct. 24, where teams developed concepts to help healthcare providers and patients prevent and manage the disease; a best-pitch competition at the conference itself; and a final judging of design prototypes next spring. The first-place teams at each stage will be rewarded with $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000 prizes.

Babu says organizers worked hard to bring in a wide range of speakers and panel topics. “The conference is much more diversified this year than in previous years,” she says. “We also want to emphasize entrepreneurship, and give attendees opportunities to meet people in the healthcare field.”

Dr. Bob Wachter, interim chair of medicine at UCSF and author of the new book Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine Computer Age, will give the opening keynote. Throughout the day, six panels will address topics from the growing pains involved in starting a digital health venture to the role of technology in serving vulnerable populations. In between, hackathon participants will present their pitches and current healthcare startups will showcase their ideas.

Jennie Chin Hansen, an elder care expert and former CEO of the American Geriatrics Society, will give the closing keynote before the conference wraps up with a reception and career expo.


—Kate Madden Yee