For the first time in 5 years, I did not attend the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. This annual mecca held the first week of January is one of the largest gatherings of healthcare professionals, investors, and start-up companies. My reasons for not attending were a mix of personal and professional, but mainly I wanted to see what it was like NOT attending. What would I miss? What would I gain? Would my annual outcome change?
What I learned is that:
- Everyone who attended and didn’t attend are cautiously optimistic about the healthcare market in 2019. Given the trends in the healthcare industry with relation to innovation, M&A, and general performance, most everyone feels the industry will continue it’s upward climb and positive growth. What is in debate is the rate of growth/acceleration.
- News travels just as quickly by being there or remote. By staying on all professional networks and with the speed of news dissemination, I probably heard about the news faster than others, except those in the room.
- Start-ups in digital health and lowering healthcare costs are still the hot trend. There are a few big acquisitions that will happen this year, market consolidation is still happening, and everyone is waiting to see what the relative newcomers (Google, Apple, Amazon) are going to do.
- My relationships with the people I have met over the years are just as strong, even though I didn’t see them for 5 minutes at a cocktail event, huddled under an umbrella, or in a hotel lobby searching for a power outlet. I realized that I have been in touch with more people because of NOT being there than physically being there.
- Relationship face-time does matter. But that can happen in NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Fran, or any other city we all live and work in. I found that setting up time post-JPM catch ups might be more beneficial to professional outcomes than getting caught in the 15 minute slots we all have before rushing to another meeting and then forgetting what we spoke about.
- My 2019 started with much more calm, organization, and ease. No rushing through the new year to get RSVP’s and meetings set up. No running to 14 cocktail parties a night for 4 nights. I was able to kick off the year how I want to.
I would love to hear from those of you who attended if you have on-the-ground feedback about other trends you saw that might not have been observed by being there. And don’t worry, I am positive I will be back next year at JPM 2020.