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Why Some of the Biggest Players In ‘Digital Health’ Are About to Meet

January 23, 2016, 2:00 PM UTC
Photograph by Helen H. Richardson — The Denver Post/Getty Images

There is no question that technology and big data have the potential to transform healthcare. While the fitness wearable market is exploding, giants from AT&T to IBM are investing heavily in “connected health” ventures.

Which is why former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea will be at a summit on health care and technology in La Jolla, California this weekend– while Hillary Clinton is campaigning for the presidency. The Clinton Foundation is focusing its annual summit on digital health, with a goal of identifying ways to use technology to improve patients’ outcomes and access to healthcare.

On Sunday, the fifth annual Health Matters Activation Summit will bring together community, medical and business leaders, including Former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, IBM Chief Health Officer Kyu Rhee and Nate Gross, co-founder of Rock Health, a venture fund focused on digital health startups. The Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease in the U.S. by 2020.

“I really hope this can be a catalytic environment for everyone who is there,” Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, told Fortune. “I hope they find new intersections and new partners for the work they’re already doing.” Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health, a digital health startup, will participate in a panel discussing how its online health coaching services are affecting patient outcomes. “Technology can open up health in a pretty profound manner.”

Clinton certainly knows a thing or two about the topic. She has a masters in public health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and serves on the boards of the the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Africa Center, and the Weill Cornell Medical College. “Increasing efficiency and effectiveness, whether through technology or other means, is really important for the health care system to get to a better place of equity and sustainability.”

That’s particularly vital with this summit, which attracts not only industry insiders but also community workers who are interacting with patients on the ground. Duffy says he’s looking forward to connecting with community groups to uncover new patient needs or concerns, as Omada looks to expand its digital health platform, which provides online coaching platforms to help prevent chronic health problems like diabetes. Omada is hoping to nearly triple its enrollment in its prevention programs this year to reach over 100,000 patients.

And it sees a huge opportunity to help underserved communities, much like those that the Clinton Foundation already serves. The summit will be an ideal moment to explore possible partnerships, said Duffy. “Every time we find folks that are in a different world from us, neat things happen,” he said. “Health care is wonderfully complex with many stakeholders, so there’s value in getting everyone in one room.”