Photo credit: Brian Clark, CHI

My experience at the 2017 Hot Issues in Health Conference was fantastic; I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be featured as a Human of Hot Issues my first year attending!

Before I get into more conference details, I want to highlight their scholarship program for allowing many of us to attend at no cost. I can confidently say that a majority of us would not have been able to attend without the scholarship. In exchange for attending the conference at no cost, we were asked to tweet 5 times throughout the 2-day conference, something I was eager to do. You can find my tweets on my profile, @SilvaAlejandr0. Thanks for your inclusiveness, Colorado Health Institute!

Day 1
The conference started with lots of excitement as Colorado Health Institute President, Michele Lueck, introduced many of the topics to be discussed throughout the conference: rising premium costs, the opioid epidemic, and wearables, among others. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of wearable technology and its benefits, so the presentation by Aiden Mitchell, Vice President of Global Internet of Things Solutions, on the benefits of wearable technology was my favorite conference presentation. One common misconception about wearables is that they are mainly FitBits and other fitness tracking watches, but Aiden brought many people up to speed on promising technologies that will improve patient mobility, sight, smell, and even lifespan thanks to 3D printed bones & organs! Aiden’s presentation (and the entire day 1 video feed) can be found on the Open Media Foundation YouTube Channel.

Aiden Mitchell, Vice President of Global IoT Solutions


Wearables was just one of the many great presentations. Another session that I thoroughly benefited from was conducted by Teresa Manocchio and Dr. Don Stader focusing on the opioid epidemic. It was interesting to have Teresa provide data, trends, and challenges prior to Dr. Stader’s insights. His insights were so impactful and moving because as an ER doctor, he personally has cared for many opioid addicts, saving some their lives in the process. By his own admission, some of the solutions he proposed for dealing with the challenges of the opioid epidemic are controversial, but certainly necessary. Among others, risk reduction was a main topic of discussion and one that he believes people should seek to understand at a deeper level.

Teresa Manocchio and Dr. Don Stader

Day 1 Photos
Photos include speakers, legislators, speakers, and panelists.


Day 2
The second conference day had a different feeling to it. The tone seemed deliberately stern as we ventured into the 2018 legislative forecast, the issues of healthcare pricing, and healthcare advocacy. CHI’s Joe Hanel and Allie Morgan brought everyone up to date on the topics they expect we will see in the 2018 legislative session. Their presentation probably yielded the most actionable information from the conference, and inspired many questions that were asked throughout the remainder of the day. Next, Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, gave us many insights into medical insurance issues and hidden fees that leave the average patient paying significantly more out of pocket than we should.

Finally, many Colorado gubernatorial candidates were brought on stage to give attendees insights into their healthcare priorities. Though separated into Democratic and Republican panels, the discussions were not intended to serve as debates, they were meant to inform voters. We learned about their personal experiences with the healthcare system, their insights into Coloradans’ experiences with healthcare, and a bit about their plans for reform. As expected, there were varying levels of familiarity with the issues in the industry, and a wide range of proposals to fix those issues. It was a great way for attendees to see which candidates are likely to prioritize the challenges in our industry.

There were many pieces that I took away from this conference. Going beyond the information presented, I would argue that being present and having informed discussions with other attendees was one of the most beneficial aspects of the conference. Being able to learn about the challenges that others face around health issues is definitely helping me gain a better understanding of many of the complexities in the industry. The presentation on wearables was the one closest to my interests, the opioid presentation was the one I took the most from, the legislative forecast was the most actionable, and the gubernatorial panels helped me see how elected officials see the challenges in healthcare. All of these takeaways were possible thanks to the scholarship I received through Colorado Health Institute, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to learn and become more involved.


Hot Issues in Health 2017 Sponsors