HLTH Rocked Health Tech, and It's Shaking Things Up Again

Why the conference is moving to the fall.

Months before the first-ever HLTH event took place this past spring, the buzz among healthcare and tech insiders was that it could be the next big thing, a rare competitor to HIMSS’ annual meeting, covering the disruption of medical costs and outcomes. When the “startup of conferences” got underway in May in Las Vegas, Nevada, it had sold out its 3,500 available seats, put blue-chip speakers on stage, and broke big news stories. All of a sudden, the buzz seemed appropriate.

But the conference’s organizers are changing the formula.

They announced today that the second incarnation of the event, HLTH 2019, will move to the fall. It’ll still take place in Sin City, this time at MGM Grand’s new conference space, but the key opinion leading won’t go down until Oct. 27-30, almost half a year on the calendar later than the first run.

>> READ: Introducing HLTH, the Startup of Health Conferences

Why mess with a good thing? HLTH’s organizers said they intend to fill “a major gap in the healthcare industry events calendar,” moving out of the crowded springtime lineup. HLTH argued that the busy spring schedule causes “dilution and event fatigue,” according to the announcement.

“There is no definitive industry touchpoint in the fall,” HLTH’s founder and CEO, Jonathan Weiner, said in a statement. “Shifting HLTH six months to the fall allows us to be even more impactful in our mission to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of healthcare in the US by enabling the industry to regroup as the current year comes to an end, as well as commence critical planning before the start of the new year.”

Moving HLTH 2019 to the fall also changes its dynamic with HIMSS’ annual meeting. Although roughly 10 times the number of people attended HIMSS, whose banner event took place in March this year, the two conferences have emerged as rivals, at least in health IT circles, fairly or not. HLTH’s pivot could serve to quiet that chatter—and cut back on the competition posed by HIMSS as the startup event with more than $5 million in venture capital looks to grow.

Organizers also gained more time to plan means to fuel that growth. This year’s inaugural event included speakers such as 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki, Geisinger’s David T. Feinberg, MD, MBA, Andy Slavitt, Uber Health’s Lauren Steingold, Fitbit’s James Park, Flatiorn Health’s Amy Abernethy, MD, and more. Who knows which movers and shakers HLTH will land for 2019?

Regardless, HLTH staffers have their work cut out for them. They said they’re planning new additions to the fall conference, which is slated to feature a how-to component to further guide healthcare innovation and disruption.

Just as it put leading experts on stage, the conference also charmed them. “Best healthcare conference I have ever attended, bar none,” Feinberg said. While that’s a strong endorsement, it also represents the level of hype the next gathering must live up to.

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