By Alex Card
Regardless of who you are or what you do in the healthcare world, the annual HLTH conference is always a highlight of the year. Where else can you hear from healthcare’s top luminaries and leaders, get a sneak peek at big changes coming to the industry, and party down with the early 2000s’ hottest musical acts? (Last year we had Ludacris, this year brought us Fat Joe and Ashanti).
Of course, we also love HLTH because it gives us several days to connect with friends, customers, and industry peers in person over the trending topics and developments that define our industry. With a theme of “Elevate Humanity: Create a Better Future for All,” this year’s conference focused on the ongoing challenges faced by patients, providers, developers, and policymakers, as well as the innovations that offer hope for a healthier, happier future.
HLTH 2023 featured more than 100 sessions on a truly massive range of subjects, from healthcare equity to LGBTQ-affirming care, so if you missed the event, you missed a lot. And even if you attended, there’s a good chance you missed something you wish you didn’t.
It would take a book to detail every topic discussed at HLTH 2023, and neither of us has time for that. Instead, let’s take a blog-length look at the conference’s overarching concepts: remote care, mental health and well-being, artificial intelligence, and the growing importance of data.
Remote care continues to revolutionize the industry
Telemedicine has rapidly transformed healthcare delivery, and several sessions at HLTH 2023 explored how telemedicine is opening new avenues to care. Experts discussed the latest advancements in telemedicine technology and adoption, focusing on improving patient experiences and outcomes.
From virtual consultations to remote patient monitoring, telemedicine is overcoming geographical barriers and providing accessible, efficient, and personalized care. In one session, we learned how virtual care can support homebound patients by compensating for the steadily declining number of home health aides.
HLTH 2023 also explored how advancements in telemedicine could shift the industry’s focus from remote patient monitoring to remote patient management, using data-driven insights gathered in the course of a patient’s everyday life to recommended treatment plans that enable greater personal independence—and less reliance on expensive facility-based care.
The mind deserves as much attention as the body
The conversation around mental health and well-being took center stage at HLTH 2023, reflecting a growing awareness of the importance of mental health in healthcare overall. Sessions covered topics like workplace stress and burnout; the relationship between diet, lifestyle, and mental health; and the impact of technology on mental healthcare.
Innovative new technologies like mental health apps and online therapy platforms promise to increase the accessibility and affordability of mental health services. And at least one session explored a very old technology that has recently re-entered the mainstream for mental health management: psychedelic medicine.
Of course, not all technology has proven kind to the mind. The conference also touched on the negative impact of social media and a hyper-connected work culture. Additionally, a couple of “fireside chats” highlighted the real-world, public health impact of crises like gun violence and climate change, as well as the more insidious impact of these crises on our society’s overall mental health and well-being.
Artificial intelligence could help bridge the staffing gap
Artificial intelligence still hasn’t gone all Terminator on us, and I’m very grateful for it. A lot of speakers at HLTH 2023 are grateful, too, as AI has simplified and enhanced a ton of critical functions across the industry: imaging and diagnostics, disease prevention, personalized care, and many administrative processes are all vastly improved with the support of AI.
But AI is only as smart and compassionate as we make it, and HLTH 2023’s speakers made clear that mass AI implementation will come with some critical hurdles. Several sessions delved into the ethical implications of AI in healthcare, the importance of unbiased algorithms, and the potential impact of a “crash” in the AI hype cycle. There was one major takeaway underlying these sessions: AI isn’t just an opportunity; it’s also a major responsibility.
Definitive Healthcare CEO Robert Musslewhite weighed in on AI’s potential during the session “Short on Staff, High on Tech.” He and other industry leaders discussed the staffing shortages affecting hospitals and nursing homes around the country, and how technology might provide relief.
This topic is as timely as ever, unfortunately: Our recently updated healthcare staffing intelligence report found that nearly one in five healthcare workers have quit their jobs since 2020, and up to 47% plan to leave their positions by 2025. The most impacted fields are internal medicine, family practice, and clinical psychology, which means basic preventive care and mental health services are only getting harder to access. However, the speakers were optimistic about technology’s ability to mitigate the personnel deficit, particularly around generative AI, which could augment up to 40% of healthcare working hours.
Good data matters in an increasingly digital space
As healthcare becomes increasingly digitized, the quality of our data and other digital assets becomes even more important. HLTH 2023 speakers and attendees examined how petabytes of personal health information, drug trial data, medical claims, administrative data, digital publications, and dozens of other key healthcare data sources can be used to discover new therapies, train AIs, find the perfect staffing candidates, shape marketing strategies, inform treatment decisions, and more.
Think data could make a difference in your workflow? You’re right—you just need the right data. Whatever your role in the industry, Definitive Healthcare has the data to help you make smarter decisions, discover new opportunities, and get more done.
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