We have a HIMSS, so why not a HERSSS? – A call for a different kind of healthcare conference

Grandstand, Toys, Males, Child, Children, Viewers, Lego

Credit: Pixabay

I love conferences. It’s the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and catch up with old friends and colleagues. Healthcare has quite a few conferences and they tend to be segmented into specialties, like those for internists, cardiologists, radiologists or pediatricians, those related to pharmaceuticals, life sciences, investing or digital health. As of late, what I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of overlap when it comes to topics, speakers and startups that showcase. In some ways this works because audiences may differ based on location or topics presented but in other ways, I think it would be nice to shakes things up a bit. Something else I’ve also noticed is that there is a lack of gender parity at a lot of these conferences. I’ve met plenty of phenomenal, intelligent, dynamic women who can speak authoritatively about the salient topics of our day and would love to see more of them featured as panelists, especially in light of the fact that women make a majority of healthcare-related decisions in American households.

Third, I would like to see more interesting pairings. What if we asked a caregiver to interview a CEO or vice versa? What if we asked a sociologist to interview a futurist?

I also would like to see a lot more hospitals, universities, medical schools and nursing schools open their doors to conferences, meetups, and outside entities. It’s important that the people who are stakeholders and who are involved in healthcare every day be involved in creating and commenting on the policies and innovations that will change the way in which they do their jobs. I’d also like to see more conferences or mini-conferences on weekends or evenings, making things feasible for providers and patients who want to attend. Livestreaming as well as having an active social media channel and archive that people can refer to is also helpful so people can watch, share, and comment on their own time.

We have a HIMSS (which has done so much in the field of healthcare meets technology) but why not a HERSS? A conference that puts together people from all elements of healthcare -traditional, nontraditional, and social. Also one where there is no dress code (except being clothed) and people can feel free to come as they are. It’s not what you wear, it’s what you bring to the table: an open mind, domain expertise (or not) and a willingness to learn, that matters.


So what would HERSSS stand for?


All aspects of traditional healthcare represented as well as newer entities. A mix of hospital systems, long-term care facilities, allied health, nutritionists, physical therapists, pharma, ACO’s, urgent care clinics, community organizations, government, global health organizations, mind body medicine, integrative medicine specialists

Besides those involved in traditional allopathic healthcare, it’s important to include people who our patients also go to.


Engineers, professors, entrepreneurs, designers, patient advocates, disease specific groups, global health, caregivers, students of all kinds.

I would like to see more educators, students and patients (regular people) at events. It’s important that the people who represent the future of the industry voice their thoughts and also learn from others.


Epidemiologists, data scientists, students, interested parties who conduct research out of passion and purpose

Data and evidence-based medicine will represent the core of how we practice medicine and it’s important to see what’s out there, what’s been done, and what the data says so we can shape practice based on solid information.


People in life science, biologists, geneticists, cognitive neuroscientists, physicists, food researchers, materials scientists etc

What comes out of bench science often turns into new techniques, technologies, medications. What we eat and do every day, what our genetic makeup is, matters.


Social workers, social media, sociology, social determinants, social innovation, social policy.

We as human beings are social creatures, we live in a network of people. No discussion on health is complete without the social aspects that are at the core of how we live and work.


Futurists, now-ists, artists, roboticists, nanomedicine, sensor and diagnostic tech

What does the future look like in the eyes of people who dare to dream and create from those dreams?

Healthcare is made up of many entities and some people see that as a weakness or barrier, but that heterogeneity can also be seen as a strength because we can draw on unique points of view and come up with creative solutions that don’t leave people behind. Instead of asking why, ask why not? That’s what we really need in a time when the system is in flux and what we create today determines what happens tomorrow.

Top 10 List of Books for Budding Entrepreneurs

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s meant to give budding entrepreneurs of any age a starting point when it comes to thinking about beginning their first entrepreneurial adventure. These books were chosen based on their readibility (easy to understand, key points highlighted, non-technical language), the information they provide, and their scope (social media, leadership, strategy, navigating the landscape, finances etc). Enjoy!

1. Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

Great tips like “learn by doing”, “take intelligent risks”, and have a “Plan A, B and Z”.

2. Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

Probably the best book on social media out there.

3. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder and Reid Hoffman

Learn from well-known entrepreneurs what it took to start and run their companies.

4. How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell

Lessons on learning on leading.

5. Escape From Cubicle Nation, From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur by Pamela Slim

Practical comprehensive action plan on how to make the jump.

6. Competitive Strategies for Dummies by Richard Pettinger

Learn about business planning and strategy.

7. Power, Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t by Jeffrey Pfeffer

A provocative read on understanding people and relationships.

8. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Think differently. Change the rules of the game.

9. World Changers, 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It by John Byrne

Inspiring read featuring entrepreneurial rock stars from a diverse set of industries.

10. Venture Deals, Be Smarter than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Learn about the structure of venture deals, term sheets, and other financials.

Full list of books on my reading list can be found here: https://charlenengamwajasat.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/reading-list/

Feel free to add other faves that you might have in the comments below.


Zahn Center NYC Brings Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Harlem

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     The Zahn Innovation Center (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/), a startup incubator located at City College in Harlem, is contributing to the growing entrepreneurial community in Silicon Harlem, both on and off-campus. The center is named for Irwin Zahn (Class of 1948), an entrepreneur and founder of Autosplice, a global manufacturer of interconnecting products and electro-assemblies which services multiple industries, and recently, the Moxie Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports social innovation and entrepreneurship. It is located in the Grove School of Engineering, named for another City College alumnus, Andrew Grove (Class of 1960), a co-founder and former CEO and chairman of tech juggernaut Intel.
     Zahn features mentorship opportunities, rapid prototyping capabilities, pro-bono legal and accounting services, a physical co-working space with 3DP printers and laser cutting tools, participation in a Lean Startup bootcamp and a social entrepreneurship speakers series that features a diverse group of speakers reflective of the melting pot that exists on campus and in Harlem. It also runs 4 startup competitions:  (1) The Kaylie Hardware Prize (named after Harvey Kaylie, also Class of 1960, who is the founder of Mini Circuits, a global leader of microwave and signal processing units), a $50,000 Grand Prize for hardware startups that develop physical products, (2) The Zahn Entrepreneurship Competition for software and other categories, which features a $30,000 grand prize (3) The Zahn Social Innovation Prize, a $30,000 prize for social and environmental impact startups, and the new (4) Standard Chartered Women’s Entrepreneurship Prize, a $30,000 prize for women-lead ventures using technology for economic impact.
     The center features a diverse array of social impact, hardware and software startups, as well as companies that co-work in the space (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/startups/). A snapshot of portfolio companies include:
Soterix Medical (http://soterixmedical.com/) -which focuses on neuromodulation technology
yaHeard (http://www.yaheard.co/) -an online marketing tool for musicians
eKick (http://www.ekicktech.com/) -skateboard technology for a safer ride
Homer Delivery (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/meet-homer-delivery/) -food delivery service with a focus on delivery logistics
laddine (http://www.laddine.com/) -curation site for toys that inspire kids to learn and create
Nexhealth (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/startups/nexhealth/) -doctor-patient communication tool designed to simplify and improve interaction
Next Q (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/startups/nextq/) -virtual queuing line management and analytics tool (already used by City College’s bursar and registration offices)
Van der Waals Technologies (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/startups/van-der-waals/) -graphene and Van der Waals nanotechnology fabricators
Vista Wearables (http://www1.cuny.edu/mu/forum/2012/05/18/ccny-announces-winner-of-50000-kaylie-prize-for-entrepreneurship/) -discrete wearables that aid the visually impaired/individuals in low-vision environments (military, search and rescue, firemen)
2×3 (http://www.zahncenternyc.com/startups/2×3/) -aids small cities in Latin America with financially sustainable recycling solutions