Monday, December 04, 2006

healthcamp giving health the barcamp treatment

0612HealthCamp 019, originally uploaded by enochchoi.

The worlds first healthcamp was held on Saturday 2 December in San Francisco. A day of great discussions with great thinkers. Cheers to all the participants who came along to openly share their ideas, knowledge, expertise and passion. This

This was my first time as a co-planner of an un-conference event. BarCampSF was my introduction to barcamp and from there BarCampStanford followed with MashupCamp, StartupCamp, PodCampWest and HealthCamp. Wearing the participants shoes, these all just seem to happen, you turn up, participate and share in the rewards of the experience and learning.

A large part of my motivation to be a co-planner of healthcamp was to bring the unconference format of event to a new group of people. How to start organising an unconference? Well, the advice contained on the guide to running an unconference provides a great start. No.1 share your idea with the world and from there you will find your co-planners. We quickly formed a committed group of co-planners. Next was the hunt for a venue, one was found and the date was set.

Then the first feedback on healthcamp came in. This turned out to be the number one learning experience. That feedback was saying, what will be the agenda for the day?, key speakers lined up? and what tracks will be discussed? I explained the big idea behind an unconference event was that the topics were decided on the day with discussions on the wiki free for all to contribute to on the run up to the event. This ensures, that for those that turn up the topics are the most relevant. For many this still left a lot of uncertainty on what value they would gain from attending. Too such a degree, they were happier to review the feedback from healthcamp to decide on their future participation.

On the day the grass roots healthcamp participants turned up. Most unknown to me and the level of female participation was high. I was greeted by a participant saying, 'I don't normally come to tech events but this is focused on health and that motivated me up to turn up.' The range of participants ranged from physicians, retailers and technologist etc.

Lessons learnt on the day. We could have spent longer introducing the basic rules of an unconference, e.g. the law of two feet, being a bumble bee etc. Giving the session leaders a clear time to broadcast their session ideas to the group. Being more robust on time keeping, building 15mins change over time may have helped.

For all those imperfectalities the event flourished. The topics of prevention, from food to the use of online information, blogging to medical research and to the role self monitoring medical devices. All in the context of putting the consumer at the center of health. With lots of entrepreneurial spirit to create a world of health2.0.

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