You’d think the annual mHealth Summit, set for next month at National Harbor, Md., would be right up my alley, but unless something changes very soon, it looks like I’ll be missing it for the third year in a row.
In 2012, it was a last-minute decision to skip due to a death in the family. Last year, the publication I would have covered it for was bringing three people already, two of whom were new and needed to experience all this mobile health in one place a lot more than I did.
This year, it’s coming down to my decision. At the moment, I don’t have anyone who absolutely needs me to cover it for them. (If you need me to help, let me know ASAP.) It also would be highly inconvenient and expensive for me to go.
As a freelancer, I’m usually on my own for travel expenses. Normally, the Washington area is a cheap trip for me, since I have family to stay with in Montgomery County, Md., and fairly good access to the Metrorail system and Interstate 270. However, National Harbor — a developer’s euphemism for struggling Oxon Hill — is just past the southern tip of D.C., near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Capital Beltway. That’s a good 5o miles from where I would ordinarily stay, and not on a Metro line. Yes, there’s a shuttle from a Metro station and a water taxi from Old Town Alexandria, Va., but it would still take more than an hour to get to either place via Metro.
The handful of hotels in this isolated development are all more than $100 a night, and the conference now stretches four full days. As a kicker, this would be the end of a multi-city trip that already is taking me to the West Coast and the South before heading back to the Midwest. So there’s that to consider. With airfare and meals, it will cost me a good $700 for the privilege of doing little more than blogging for not a lot of money unless I find a solid client, and find one fast, before I book the rest of my trip, which I’m doing this week.
Why does the mHealth Summit need to be four full days anyway, not counting the pre-conference seminars that could keep some people there for six days? That’s actually longer than the huge HIMSS conference, which usually starts on a Monday and ends in the early afternoon on a Thursday — and HIMSS owns the mHealth Summit now.
How much mobile health is there anyways? Mobile health already is melding into wireless health, digital health, connected health and probably a few more variations of health that escape my mind right now. In a few years, they’ll all be part of health IT, e-health or just plain “health” anyway. Do we really need four full days of it in an isolated “resort” in a cold climate? (Fine, it’s not too far from Reagan National Airport, but good luck to you if you fly into Dulles or Baltimore-Washington International.)