South by Southwest—the hip Austin, Texas, festival known for bringing together new music, films and technologies—hosted an unexpected guest this year: the American Hospital Association.
AHA leaders sat on panels related to access to care, innovative partnerships and “must-haves” for future healthcare leaders at the 2019 event, which took place March 8-17.
The AHA’s presence marked the first time the association officially participated in sessions at SXSW, though some teams attended the event last year.
“We wanted to offer the public a view of how hospitals and health systems are redefining the 'H' to better serve their communities,” said Dr. Jay Bhatt, AHA’s senior vice president and chief medical officer, who sat on a panel about telehealth and in-home care.
SXSW, a 32-year-old festival which started as a regional event to celebrate Austin’s art community, added its Health & MedTech track in 2014 to reflect the city’s growing healthcare market, according to Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s chief programming officer.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the festival is hosting 100-plus sessions on the track, with sponsorship from Kaiser Permanente and participation from major hospital groups. Modern Healthcare has also been a part of SXSW, with Publisher Fawn Lopez participating in a 2017 panel on advances in healthcare technology.
The health addition puts SXSW in competition with some of healthcare’s long-established players. “2018 was a little bit challenging because the HIMSS event in Las Vegas literally backed up to our event, with their last day being the first day of SXSW,” Forrest said. “One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is that we can get a lot more buy-in when we’re not backed up against one of these really big events.”