See You at Microsoft NERD for Xconomy Health IT Xchange This Evening

Bring an open mind and an extra business card or two. That’s what I’m planning to do as I gear up for today’s Xconony Xchange: HHS CTO Todd Park and Friends on the Future of Health IT. Xconomy is fortunate that the event is sold out, and there’s little doubt in my mind that the big reason for the sell-out is the terrific speakers we have lined up (not to mention the great venue at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, MA).

For starters, we’re pumped to have Todd Park, the chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health Human Services, back here in the Hub to be our keynote speaker. And he has an invaluable insider’s perspective on the multibillion-dollar effort afoot to digitize patient health records in this country. Park brings a unique perspective to the hot-button topic of the role of government in healthcare. He and Jonathan Bush co-founded Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN) in 1998 after learning that there was a great need for a Web-enabled service to help doctors manage their billing—and actually get reimbursed by insurance companies for taking care of patients.

Now Park, having taken his big job at HHS in August 2009, is applying what he learned as an entrepreneur at a great big government agency. If you’re a health IT executive who’s always dreamed of going to Washington as an agent of change, Park’s living that sort of dream (though I’m guessing that the cutthroat politics in the capital can be a real nightmare sometimes). For example, Park has taken the lead in efforts to make data such as details on health insurers more transparent and searchable online for the public.

While Park is going to spur our minds into motion with his opening remarks, things will start getting more interactive when he joins our other stellar speakers on a panel about the future of health IT. Dana Callow, founder and general managing partner of Boston Millennia Partners, is moderating the panel. The panel also features Bob Higgins, co-founder and general partner at Highland Capital Partners, and Rob Seliger, a general manager at the Microsoft Health Solutions Group and a founder and former CEO of Sentillion. All the panelists have experience building health IT companies from the ground up and providing successful exits for investors—Park at Athenahealth (2007 initial public offering), Higgins at Generation Health (majority acquired by CVS Caremark in 2009), and Seliger at Sentillion (sold to Microsoft, also in 2009).

I also took the liberty of looking at who has registered for this event. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I think you’ll find that there will be an awesome representation of the most exciting new health IT startups, corporate venture investors (think Internet giants with deep pockets), traditional VCs, health IT executives, and members of the healthcare provider community in the Boston area. Doors open for the event at around 4:15 pm today, and I’m planning on getting there as early as I can to catch up with as many people as possible before we get the program started at around 5 pm. See you there!

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