health20What will your healthcare look like in the next 5 to 10 years? Maybe that's a question not for legislatures, insurance companies, or even doctors. Maybe you should ask the Internet. The Health 2.0 Conference has a pretty basic premise: user generated healthcare. Individual patients coordinated in large online groups have the potential to shape healthcare the same way that coordinated individuals are shaping the Internet on sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Yahoo groups. Based on the concept of Web 2.0, Health 2.0 is a fascinating new approach to medicine and its third international conference is coming up October 6th and 7th in San Francisco. If you want to get a better idea of what Health 2.0 and the Health 2.0 conference are all about, check out the video of last year's keynote speaker, Clay Shirky, after the break.

Health 2.0 Con 2009 will have over 100 speakers, many hundreds of live demos of products in an exhibit hall, and a keynote address by Aneesh Chopra, the newly appointed Chief Technology Officer of the US government. Discussion groups will focus on everything from "Gaming and Healthcare" to "defining Health 2.0". It's a great opportunity to be at the cross roads of healthcare technology and healthcare philosophy.

The list of speakers, presenters, and exhibit hall displays is epic. You've got web based groups like Google Health, WebMD, and Microsoft. There will be discussion abouts the future of health plans with the likes of BlueCrossBlueShield, Cigna, and Kaiser Permanente. I personally would love to discuss games and healthcare with Gaming4Health and the American Heart Association. There are too many mind-blowing panels to mention. Check out the agenda to learn more.

Of course, with a conference comes big name sponsors like Athena Health, Pfizer, Cisco, Oracle, Johnson & Johnson, and many more. As an individual concerned with the future of healthcare, I honestly often see these large corporations as the enemy. That's naive and paranoid of me, I know. Part of what Health 2.0 is all about is getting people like me to interface with the giants of healthcare in a mutually beneficial way. I'm really interested to see how sponsors and speakers and attendees set the discussion at this conference.

Speaking of attendees, do you have $1800 laying around? That's the full price of a conference ticket. All the exhibitors (but presumably not the panelists) are tossing up that much green to display their wares. Practicing physicians have options for attending for free. If you're a doctor interested in the conference make sure to see if you can avoid shelling out the two grand.

The future of healthcare will be shaped by democratized technology (like ubiquitous biosensors, or smart toilets) as well as aggregate patient groups. As Clay Shirky mentions in the video, patients outnumber professionals in the industry by 100 to 1. Patients are healthcare. As that realization spreads, and technology works to make it a reality, the way we live and heal is going to change. I can't wait to see what insights the Health 2.0 Conference brings. Rest assured that whatever Singularity Hub learns, we'll be passing on to you.