A wonderful self appraisal of what worked and what did not at Health 2.0

conference by oxfam international
The ugly, the bad, the very good and the great at the Health 2.0 Conference:
[Via The Health 2.0 Blog]

So the Fall Health 2.0 2009 conference in San Francisco at the Concourse Exhibition Center is over. The bunting is down, the cocktails are drunk, and everyone can get back to the sanctity of the WiFi enabled office or home. (Yes, we’re sorry about that problem and need to stress that it was NOTHING to do with AT&T who graciously sponsored the conference but were NOT providing Internet access).

But it doesn’t detract from the fabulous experience of seeing perhaps the most amazing line-up of health technology ever in one hall together–not to mention some of the biggest names in the Health IT world going toe to toe. Health 2.0 had over a hundred speakers and nearly 80 live demos and technologies on display on stage–not to mention 30 more in the exhibit hall. We featured Health 2.0 Tools for doctors, ePatients telling us what they needed, and a stirring address from CTO of the US, Aneesh Chopra. Then there was some remarkable integration over unplatforms in the tools panel–(I don’t know how often Esther Dyson gives standing ovations but that was great to see). And there was so much more.

Congrats to Remedy Rx Ventures and Unity Medical–joint winners of Launch! But honestly we believe that everyone who presented had something important to show and say. Thanks to everyone who came, demoed, sponsored, spoke, volunteered and worked so so hard (especially the volunteers who stayed late on Wednesday to move tables and chairs).

We had a great time and we made a difference. There’ll be videos and more up here next week. For now, take the weekend off!

My more detailed comments are below the fold.

The Ugly: The WiFi came from the sole source vendor attached to the venue. There is no permanent WiFi or Internet in that building. In Fall 2008 we had a maximum of 200 simultaneous users and our attendee numbers were similar this year. We contracted for an average of 300 simultaneous users with the ability to handle several hundred more and paid a large extra fee for “over-engineering” in case of last minute requests. The Internet was set up on Monday afternoon and the WiFi only worked spottily. At that stage there were only about 15–20 computers in the building. The vendor told us that because the network was open multiple people outside were on it. We were also told that interference from other equipment was the problem and the only option to was to get a completely different vendor in to build a new network, but that might still not work. We then made the changes that you saw on Tuesday morning (more channels, passcodes, etc) and it failed again. Upon further conversation with the vendor it was determined that no amount of extra work or money could guarantee us securing adequate WiFi by end of day Tuesday, so we then made the strategic decision to protect the podium links, the sponsored Twitter lounge, the press area and the exhibitors as much as possible and laid down a whole new set up for them over the next 24 hours at a very substantial extra cost. We did that because we figured that people wanted to see the demos on stage more than they wanted to read their email or surf the web, especially given that most people have got a data plan that keeps them in touch on their cell phone.


It is really nice to see what problems arose and how they were deal with, even if without success. Reading about the decision process not only helps those who were present but is useful for any group putting on a big conference.

Read the whole thing. I think every conference should have such a fresh review. It provides a wonderful insight into the entire process, something so often invisible for attendees.

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