Maiden Voyage Aboard the JP Morgan Ship: My First JPM Experience
Dr. Jonathan Wiesen, M.D., founder and chief medical officer, MediOrbis
I became accustomed to the common derogatory off the cuff conference reviews: “It’s too crowded;” “You can’t have a conversation with anyone in a meaningful way;” “It’s so packed with people you can’t even get a cell signal;” “There’s no place to sit;” “I don’t even attend the conference itself…”
Negative reviews aside, in the weeks immediately prior to, and after, the conference, JPM is all anyone talks about in the world of medical industry, like the prom or homecoming. It is when the entire conglomerate of medical industry – from medical devices to healthcare systems to investors and the occasional opportunist, descend on (prey on?) downtown San Francisco like carrion to a corpse, devouring all in its path.
No seat is empty, every Starbucks is packed, and anxious and tardy customers wait an unheard of 20 minutes for their Ubers to arrive.
The MediOrbis team entered the fray ready for war. Equipped with an overpriced hotel room booked four months in advance, a packed itinerary of speaking engagements, meetings, networking events, dinners and “commuting time,” as well as our mobile business materials – business cards, laptops, phones, cords and chargers – we jumped into the downtown scene with aplomb.
As per our expectations, the immediate and surrounding area of the conference were swamped with hordes of well-dressed businessmen and women. Swarms of people were everywhere; at eateries and cafes, flooding the streets around the Westin (the official conference location), and taking up valuable real estate on every sofa and chair in the city.
It is beyond absurd that successful (and wealthy!) medical professionals are waiting around, scouring the vicinity, involved in high level negotiations for a simple set of chairs or space on a couch in a hotel lobby!
In one instance, I rushed through the conclusion of a meeting in a hotel lobby, seeing that a woman was visibly waiting to take my seat. “Just keeping it warm!” I joked with her as I got up. My attempt at lightening the mood in this overwhelming and intense event was met with a death stare and a “that’s just weird” retort. So “those people” show up as well.
Once we started it was a whirlwind of medical business and technology overload. I was honored to give the opening talk for the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, sharing with other entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and stakeholders my insights into medical technology innovations, particularly those that address issues related to telemedicine, specialty care and chronic disease management (CDM).
We then proceeded to the Marriot Marquis, the lion’s den if you will, where – seated on a fraction of a couch cushion – we fashioned our plan to roll out our innovative Integrated Specialty Care Program with a Medicare Advantage Program in California.
A coffee shop strategy meeting with our global partner MediGuide (note: quality of coffee is inversely related to availability of places to sit at this conference, choose your ratio wisely!), was followed by a meeting with our partner Risk Strategies in a less populated hotel lobby (another note: quality of hotel is inversely related to availability of seats), two simultaneous networking events (terrible idea, stick to one in the future), a meeting with the Siemens global team, two more simultaneous networking events (see previous note) and retiring to our overpriced and run down hotel, beaten and exhausted, but not broken.
More hilarity and chaos followed the following day. Rising (ridiculously) early due to jet lag, the MediOrbis team checked out of our hotel bright and early; and had to move through the rest of the day with our luggage in tow. Posturing to be high level medical technology executives, but appearing to those around us as hobos, we returned to the lion’s den (the aforementioned Marriot) and somehow managed to obtain a luggage cart for our belongings.
This required some negotiations with the bellhops and also necessitated that we split our time between meetings and watching our neatly arranged valuables on the trolley. Finally, and mercifully, after back – to – back – to – back meetings, we returned to the airport to whisk us out of harm’s way and back to the loving embrace of Cleveland.
Overall, I believe that JPM presented exactly the type of experience that others described and that we anticipated. It was gratifying to witness the enormous number of people who are engaged in healthcare services and who share our commitment to helping people regain their health.
We achieved in a day and a half what would otherwise take a week of coordinated and expensive travel. The MediOrbis team met interesting and innovative individuals, strengthened our pre – existing relationships, and, perhaps most important, were both seen and heard at the largest healthcare conference of the year.
Lastly, JPM 2020 was a great way to spread the news about our specialty telemedicine and CDM programs and how we address the need for streamlined, integrated clinical solutions for our global audience.
Until next year JPM!!