In 1727, Benjamin Franklin gathered friends and neighbors in Philadelphia and established a club called the Junto that was built upon a foundation of tolerance, honesty and respect. At Junto gatherings, men from diverse occupations met informally to discuss various issues relating to themselves, their community and ways they could help others.
HealthCampers sent tweets from
their laptops during a session on how
to create a healthcare-specific
Shift the Junto-style meeting into the twenty-first century, add a focus on healthcare and technology, and HealthCamp Philadelphia might emerge. Held on March 28, 2009 inside the Hamilton Building at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, HealthCamp Philadelphia brought approximately 100 healthcare pros, industry experts and technology professionals to the City of Brotherly Love to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship in the healthcare field.
Led by co-organizers Mary Ann Geier, monager of online marketing, Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, and Mark Scrimshire, IT director of web strategy at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, along with a team of local volunteers, HealthCamp Philadelphia followed a string of BarCamp-style conferences that have popped up internationally since 2005.
A type of free, user-generated conference, BarCamp meetings encourage people to gather for one day to discuss ideas and issues surrounding a particular theme. On the morning of a conference, attendees set the day's schedule by writing down topics for discussion on note cards and pinning them to a large grid identifying times and meeting rooms.
With attendees traveling from places as far as Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York and Connecticut, HealthCamp Philadelphia provided a diverse forum for conversation with a strong emphasis on action. "What can each of us do to make change happen?" asked Geier in the introductory session.
Well, one can start by following the rules of the "unconference," which is how many attendees referred to the relaxed, open forum meetings. First was the rule of two feet, Geier said, which granted every attendee the freedom to move among the sessions as desired. Second, attendees were expected to show respect for the views of other participants. With that said, participants were discouraged from selling or endorsing their products or business. "Don't sell, participate" was the third rule. Attendees were not discouraged, however, from sharing information and experiences during and after HealthCamp. The main focus of HealthCamp, Geier said, was to make contacts, engage in conversations, build the community and address tough topics as a team.
"The problems [of healthcare in America] are so big that nobody feels they can solve them," Scrimshire said. "If we all do something, we will make a difference."
With that, attendees set out to examine the schedule, make note of interesting sessions and begin actively participating in the healthcare- and technology-specific conversations that may ultimately shape the future of healthcare in America. Here, ADVANCE looks back on a few of the major discussions that took place at HealthCamp Philadelphia.