Who's Hacking Healthcare?

MM&M's Skill SetsLive series goes on the road again, this time to Boston on November 10th to explore the use of the hacker approach in healthcare and how it's being applied in pharma to transform R&D and marketing. 

Biopharma and med-tech firms are looking to add value to their products yet still grappling to transform themselves from manufacturers of drugs and devices to providers of services. Challenged with seeking digital health solutions to problems either in their pipeline or to smooth brands' entry to market, they're testing investment themes around the areas of services, technology and data. Innovation challenges and hackathons are one outgrowth of this experimentation. To give attendees a taste for disruption, this forum will show how some firms are hacking their way to better R&D productivity and experimenting with innovation on the commercial sides of their business. By putting disruption on display, attendees will learn ways to implement such approaches within their own organization.


8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Registration and Networking Breakfast

9:30 a.m. - 10:10 a.m.

Keynote: Hacking Pharma Business Models: A View from the MIT Hacking Medicine Institute 


Zen Chu, Co-founder, MIT Hacking Medicine Institute

Biopharma and med-tech firms looking to add value to their products have experimented with innovation challenges and hackathons as they work to add services to their product offerings. But there's a lot you might not know about the hacker approach. This keynote is designed to give you an appreciation for what the movement is all about while showing how some firms have hacked their way to better R&D productivity, better business technology for life sciences, and to open new vistas on the commercial sides of their business.

Attendees of this session will gain:


  • Learn how the hacker movement can assist biopharma in adapting to the digital transformation of healthcare
  • Hear examples of how the approach has been applied within this industry
  • Gain a basic understanding of design thinking in healthcare

10:10 a.m - 10:50

Skills in 30: Sponsored by inVentiv Health PR Group


Chris Iafolla, Head of Digital & Social Strategy, inVentiv Health PR Group
Pritesh Shah, US General Manager at Novocure

The healthcare landscape is changing drastically. Life sciences companies are leveraging advancement in healthcare technology to engage and educate patients and caregivers alike. The affordable care act is bringing more patients into the system than ever before. Patients, healthcare providers and payers all expect more in the form of patient support programs.

This rapidly changing environment is forcing life sciences companies to rethink their approach to innovation - moving from something only conceived in the lab to something conceivedanywhere.

In this session, you will hear how Novocure, an oncology company with a medical device for treating patients with glioblastoma (GBM):

  • Thinks about its patient support programs similar to other technology companies
  • Puts patients and innovation at the center of its business
  • Conducted a hackathon with organizations inside and outside of the brain cancer community to uncover new patient support solutions for the brain cancer community

10:50 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Skills in 30: Getting to Know the Hacker Community

Panel Discussion: How DIY Has Changed Everything in Healthcare

Moderator: Sara Holoubek, CEO and Founder, Luminary Labs


  • Naomi Fried, PhD, former VP, medical information, innovation and external partnerships, Biogen, and chief innovation officer, Boston Children's Hospital

The imperative for the healthcare industry is to alter the way it does business, yet there's a general lack of expertise in deploying innovative approaches across business functions, not to mention a huge hurdle in changing the culture. As industry wrestles with these hurdles, designers, developers, data mavens, and makers are taking matters into their own hands, developing novel solutions while democratizing healthcare. Hear from biopharma firms, hospitals and other members of the healthcare establishment who are leveraging hacking internally to accelerate the pace of innovation all along the continuum, as well as the external hackers and makers who are using design-based skills to develop disruptive technologies with clinical potential.

This session will drill down to,

  • How to execute a hackathon in a biopharma company or other healthcare organization

  • Areas where hospitals and other clinical settings are looking for novel approaches

11:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Networking and Coffee Break

11:45 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.

Skills in 30: How Not to Drink the Hackathon Kool-Aid



Mandira Singh, senior manager, business development, athenahealth

"Innovation" has become a powerful catalyst for change in healthcare and a rallying point for industry's diverse stakeholders. But "disruption" can also be a trap when the disruptors are disillusioned about what it takes to exert real change. Mandira Singh, athenahealth senior manager, business development and More Disruption Please (MDP), the firm's one-year-old accelerator program, will speak about the opportunities and pitfalls of the new wave of hackathons on healthcare, and learnings from the last three MDP Hackathons.

Sponsored by AthenaHealth

12:25 p.m. - 1:05 p.m.

Panel Discussion: TBD 

Moderator:  Marc Iskowitz, Editor in Chief, Medical Marketing & Media

Details & Pricing

Event Information

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Time: 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
Location: Metro Meeting Center, 101 Federal Street, Boston, MA 02110 


Ticket Information:

About Skill Sets Live

Skill Sets Live is a series of live, half-day events, comprising presentations and discussions focused on specific disciplines within pharmaceutical/healthcare marketing and communications. Prominent speakers from across the industry will share their insights, observations, best practices and advice with a live audience of pharma brand managers/marketers, agency professionals and healthcare media executives. The goal is to provide attendees with a platform to increase their knowledge in key areas of healthcare marketing and communications and to provide a forum for networking and sharing information.

Contact Information

For event information, contact Amanda Hassler at 646-638-6023 or