Inside a Geek Conference for Better Health Outcomes

What do you get when you combine a bunch of tech nerds, science geeks, and PhDs? You get the first-ever Wired Health Conference: Living by Numbers, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Wired magazine. (See RWJF: Grants for Public Health.) At first glance, this conference of the ultrasmart would seem to be a potpourri of professors causing anyone attending the conference that isn't at least an MD feel a little less than smart. On the contrary, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation staunchly believes that better health comes by way of better information. Who better to share that information than the foremost tech nerds, science geeks, and PhDs of the world?

The Wired Health Conference will take place in New York City from Monday, October 15 through Tuesday, October 16. Confirmed speakers in attendance include the creator of the "first self-replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic DNA" and the guy who developed the Mathematica computation system. These concepts are way out of most of our wheelhouses, although they sound very impressive.

The goals of the conference are: 1) start a new national dialogue regarding how science, medicine, and technology can come together to help doctors make the most informed real-time decisions and 2) span the "gap between healthcare and technology."

Using technology to gauge physical performance is not a new phenomenon and actually has a name: health tech. Professional athletes do it. Olympians do it. In fact, many of us have probably used health tech on a smaller scale by using a pedometer.

Doctors love keeping people healthy, tech nerds love their gadgets, science geeks love — and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation loves its health-related data. All of these big brains convening in one room sounds like a pretty genius plan that will likely result in exciting new ideas and concepts in the emerging health tech industry.