By JW Amos
HLTH 2022 was a one-of-a-kind event. It brought together thought leaders from seemingly every corner of the healthcare spectrum! Where else can you find payors, providers, employers, pharma, startups, and big tech all in the same room? It also helped that Ludacris provided the conference entertainment.
The conference was held in Las Vegas, Nevada from November 13th-16th and covered a wide range of topics from women’s health to the cooling down of digital health funding in 2022.
Here are my five key takeaways from HLTH 2022:
- Gaps in patient experience hinder healthcare consumerism
- Hybrid care models are here to stay
- Investors are slowing down digital health funding
- There’s an immense opportunity and obligation to advance health equity
- The future of healthcare must include a female focus
1. Gaps in patient experience hinder healthcare consumerism
Multiple sessions at HLTH focused on the rise of consumerism in healthcare. Even before COVID-19 caused patients to seek new ways to connect with their providers (like over telehealth), consumers have scoured the Internet for high-quality care at affordable rates for years.
The biggest obstacle to consumerism’s growth, however, is a lack of information transparency. Many speakers identified structural barriers that prevent patients from acting as “free market” agents.
For example, most services are presented as a default next step for patients instead of encouraging patients to play an active role in their care journey. Incentives to shop around are limited to the services covered by insurance. This stipulation reduces the financial impact after the deductible is met, potentially undermining the consumer decision-making process. Pricing data, a key factor when shopping, is not easily accessible, which keeps many from seeking health care services.
2. Hybrid care models are here to stay
Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella of Teladoc Health and Dr. Rajiv Patel of Centene, both panelists on the “Real-World Results of Whole-Person Virtual Care” session, were adamant that on-site care delivery and digital care management will continue to drive new delivery models into the future.
To encourage virtual care innovation, it is imperative that healthcare organizations continue to support favorable reimbursement structures for hybrid care models.
Key applications mentioned were wellness education, chronic disease management, and care in provider-sparse communities.
3. Investors are slowing down digital health funding
I had the opportunity to network with multiple startup founders in between sessions – and every one of them told me that the market for venture capital and private equity funding is currently undergoing a correction. Many founders expressed relief they had acquired substantial investment in 2021,
In the session, “Doom or Boom? Digital Health’s Financial Future,” multiple venture capital leaders shared their belief that venture funds were no longer willing to invest solely based upon concept and that stronger business models are required now more than ever before. The panel mentioned that the deal volume during 2021 was so high that it was difficult to do due diligence and the slowdown in funding was the market correcting for such practices.
4. There's an immense opportunity and obligation to advance health equity
The pandemic exacerbated existing health inequities, so it was no surprise that this was a major theme at HLTH 2022.
Many speakers pointed to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as possible solutions and encouraged healthcare delivery organizations to be vigilant. They stressed the importance of including adequate data on populations with the greatest healthcare disparities, so that AI and ML solutions are unbiased.
Secondly, they mentioned that access to affordable internet and devices—and the skills and education to use them--is often limited in communities that experience disparities in health. To combat this challenge, many speakers encouraged collaboration between health systems, non-profits, and corporate entities.
5. Women's health is a top priority in 2023
The US has the worst maternity outcomes of any developed nation. The CDC reports that more than 700 women die annually in the U.S. due to pregnancy complications. These numbers are even worse for women of color. According to data from the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
Multiple HLTH sessions explained how employers, the healthcare industry, and payors can and should invest in women’s health to improve outcomes. For example, panelists recommended companies invest in comprehensive support for women’s health. Employers can combat these challenges by offering comprehensive insurance plans that include coverage for pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care without high deductibles, co-pays, or out-of-pocket costs.
Despite some concerns around the Supreme Courts Dobbs decision, panelists expressed optimism that venture capital will power early-stage startups to address the unmet needs in women’s health, a historically under-invested area.
I left the conference energized by the increasing level of collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem. I am already looking forward to next year! If you would like to learn more about how to tackle the above problems by leveraging our healthcare commercial intelligence, start a free trial today!