Why Culture, Curiosity and Collaboration are Keys to Better Healthcare: HLTH 23 in Review
During the sixth annual US meeting of HLTH, more than 10,000 executives from across the healthcare ecosystem took on the Las Vegas strip to discuss the industry’s most pressing problems and promising opportunities. Some of healthcare’s biggest names from Microsoft to Walmart graced the stage along with pop music sensation Nick Jonas, founder of Beyond Type 1; grand-slam tennis champion Andy Roddick, co-founder of ViewFi, and numerous other voices from inside and outside the traditional healthcare walls.
Jody Tropeano, HLTH Head of Content, and Jonathan Weiner, HLTH Founder, Chairman & CEO, welcomed conference attendees with opening remarks. This included an optimistic “HLTH News” segment that shined a light on the feel good stories that don’t often make front page news, such as the FDA’s approval of Opill, the first OTC daily oral contraceptive. They also took time to thank the countless leaders—payers and providers, startups and investors, members from the pharma, life sciences and patient communities, as well as government entities, employers, and solution providers—who took time out of their busy lives to convene for the sixth year of healthcare’s biggest innovation event.
Amid the horrific tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and the many companies represented at HLTH’s “Israel Export Institute Pavilion” unable to make the trip to Vegas—the year’s theme “Elevate Humanity” couldn’t have been timelier. Throughout the sessions, focused on a range of topics from automation to health equity, all roads led back to the importance of fostering strong culture, curiosity, and collaboration.
Couldn’t fit HLTH23 into your dance card this year? No worries—read on for the full recap!
Want to Drive Change? Start with Company Culture.
Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb Inc., once said, “A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.” Many of the sessions revolved around this idea. How does culture influence collective growth? Not just the well-being of your internal teams, but also the livelihood of your patients and communities at large? As Russell Glass, CEO of Headspace, and Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn, discussed in their session alongside Moira AaronsMele, author of The Anxious Achiever, a great start to achieving strong company culture is by encouraging a work environment that supports mental health. The panelists referenced a study conducted by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that found “robust mental health benefits” and “mental health resources” to be ranked #2 and #3 for organizational best practices for supporting mental health in the workplace. Company culture was ranked #1.
It is clear that individuals want to feel supported at work and home, and as Glass and Roslansky pointed out, better employee well-being and mental health can help keep healthcare costs down. In fact, the Center for Workplace Mental Health predicts that the total economic burden of major depressive disorder (MDD) costs the US economy $210.5 billion per year. Platforms like LinkedIn are one way to help professionals feel a sense of comradery and eliminate feelings of isolation. As Glass said, “Someone else somewhere else in the world is having the same problem that you are.” Today, LinkedIn estimates that of its 950 million members, 8 million are healthcare professionals in the US alone. To date, these users have acquired 38,000 skills, represent 424,000 companies, and belong to 341,000 groups.
Want to Spur Curiosity? Start with a VALID Approach.
There’s no team fostering a deeper sense of curiosity than the folks at UC Davis Health. Led by Ashish Atreja, MD, MPH, CIO & Chief Digital Health Officer, and joined by representatives from Decimal.health, Mayo Clinic, and the Coalition of Health AI (CHAI), the three-hour “Future & Health VALID AI Launch at HLTH 2023” featured rich conversations on AI strategy, governance framework, and road mapping for the future. While much has been said about the opportunities that tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT can bring to healthcare, the panelists all agreed that insufficient attention has been given to building frameworks for trust. As David Rhew, MD, Global Chief Medical Officer at Microsoft said, “Truth is absolutely essential.” He went on to challenge attendees to think about transparency and intent. What do you intend to do with the data? How is it going to be managed? Furthermore, where is it going and who’s going to see it?
While the industry has seen some progress in improving patient trust for hospitals and health systems, the national average still hovers below 50%, rising from 20% in April 2020 to 35% in April 2022. Just last July the American Medical Association revealed that 75% of patients expressed concern about protecting the privacy of their PHI, and only 20% of patients indicated that they knew the full extent of companies and individuals with access to their data. Jennifer Miles-Thomas, President and CEO of Urology of Virginia, informed attendees of the lack of transparency. “It’s the wild west. It’s dangerous and it’s going to hurt patients if we get it wrong.”
The session introduced the acronym VALID: Vision, Alignment, Learning, Implementation, and Dissemination.
Want to Foster Inclusivity and Health Equity? Start with Collaboration.
We all know that inclusivity is an important, if not the most important, component of fostering a better healthcare ecosystem. How data is shared, which stakeholders are involved in discussions, and a patient-centric approach are all avenues that need to be explored. Many of the main and side stages at HLTH took the opportunity to weigh in on the topic, featuring commentary from executives at Genentech, EY, GoodRx, CMI Media Group, and Publicis Health. As one leader said, “Health equity needs to be part of every single person’s job and responsibility.” Taking a “patients are people” approach to care delivery was a common thread woven into most discussions.
Whether it was the first time or the sixth time for attendees, HLTH had something for everyone, and collaboration was essential. Making sure people of all backgrounds and skillsets were represented was evident in the programming, as was the emphasis on reducing burnout and clinical inefficiencies.
“The caliber of on-stage sessions was fantastic and there was a lot of diversity this year—including women and people from diverse backgrounds. I really enjoyed that,” said Anjali Kataria, CEO and Co-Founder of Mytonomy, a leader in healthcare cloud solutions for video-based patient education and engagement. “One trend that was evident on the HLTH show floor and on all the stages was the number of companies incorporating GenAI into their offerings. There was also recognition that human oversight is a vital component of integrating AI in a safe and effective way.”
Jeff Fallon, Chairman and CEO of eVideon, echoed Kataria’s sentiments. “The buzz was strong around hospital room innovations that actually gave time back to nurses by reducing their nonclinical tasks and providing mission critical data at the point of care without bringing computers or tablets into the room.” Fallon went on to applaud the representation of big companies that headlined the main stages at HLTH. “I was impressed, but not surprised, by the number of huge players leaning into healthcare innovation including Best Buy, Amazon, Uber, and others.”
Speaking of Amazon, Neil Lindsay, Senior Vice President of Amazon Health Services, emphasized the importance of the 3Cs: choice, convenience, and continuity of care—three core pillars for the ecommerce giant, owner of 37.8% of the country’s market share. “We have an opportunity to improve an experience,” said Lindsay. “We don’t go into an industry thinking we’re going to transform it.” Rather, Lindsay emphasized the importance of making small, strategic decisions that yield significant results every day.
In a world riddled with economic pressures, limited resources, exhausted physicians, and the sick getting sicker, it can be hard to find hope. However, HLTH was a week to do just that. It was a 10,000-person reunion where professionals from every facet of the industry leaned in and discussed the important work of “blocking and tackling” to make healthcare more safe, equitable, and achievable for all. I’ll leave you with sage words from Alex Azar, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, and current member of the board of directors at Interwell Health:
“Value-based care is hard work. It’s day-to-day blocking and tackling. I serve on the board at a value-based kidney care management company, and I get to see it. It’s having your own EMR so that you are integrated on care delivery. It’s having clinical pathways, incentives for physicians, relationships with pharmacists and other professionals to aid the practice, and much more. It is hard work. But if it delivers outcomes—fewer hospitalizations, better dialysis start rates, better utilization of at-home dialysis, and more—policymakers can be good business partners in this effort. So, we need to find companies that do the hardcore blocking and tackling, the work that is demonstrating value five years from now, compared to the present.”