It might be warm and sunny this summer, but a storm is brewing, said Graham Dodge. The Sickweather founder’s Cold Cough Flu conference set for October in Kansas City could help health officials detect what’s to come.
Inspired by a similar event organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oct. 15 event aims to develop an in-depth forecast of the 2018 cold and flu season, as well as educate Kansas City on the inner workings of his industry, said Dodge, the company’s CEO.
The technology behind Sickweather allows the company to scan thousands of social media postings and direct reports from its users to generate illness maps and forecasts. Through a mobile app dashboard, users track their chances of getting sick based on environmental and geographical factors — much like they would check the daily weather forecast.
The app’s accuracy amid the most recent season’s conditions caught the attention of a wide range of customers, users and investors. Not only did Sickweather pick up $1 million in an overfunded crowdfunding campaign, it was selected in May as a technology partner for FitBit’s new line of wearables.
Push for a conference also grew out of that success, Dodge said. One of Sickweather’s biggest clients asked if he could organize the event based on the company’s proven track record of forecasting flu conditions 15 weeks in advance, he said.
“We are really excited to bring people together from many different backgrounds in health care and data science for interdisciplinary panel discussions,” Dodge said. “We are expecting some fascinating conversations.”
As his company’s inaugural conference takes shape Oct. 15 in the Medallion Theater at Plexpod Westport Commons, the CEO promises a diverse mix of speakers and panelists, including epidemiologists, data scientists, nurses, marketing experts, and health care executives.
“Someone working in public health might have completely different success metrics for engaging the population as someone doing that for clinical trials, or someone else doing that for OTC sales,” he explained. “But their best practices for engagement could be extremely relevant to each other.”
Dodge and the Sickweather team have high hopes that the 2018 Cold Cough Flu conference will build a bridge between their clients and partners, as they eye an opportunity to make the event an annual occurrence.
“As long as there’s a Cold Cough Flu season, then there will be a need for Sickweather’s forecasts and the type of discussion that this conference will host,” Dodge said.
— Kaitlin Brennan (@KaitlinEBrennan) July 12, 2018