By Evan Osborne, MPH, RT(T)
Innovative technologies with a healthcare focus converged at MGM’s convention center in Las Vegas, Nevada for HLTH 2019. Attendees sought opportunities to network, share knowledge and pitch business proposals to those in need of venture capital and accelerator support. An all-star cast of keynote speakers presented and vendors from around the world participated on the exhibit floor.
Below are five key trends gleaned from the conference.
All avenues of the healthcare industry were represented in the exhibit hall. A large portion of the companies were focused on population health, aggregate data analytics and exchanges, as well as member and patient engagement technologies. Fifteen companies competed in the startup challenge with a purse totaling $50,000. The winning “Audience Choice” vendor came from Particle Health, which presented an application program interface (API) technology called “Particle API”. This innovative technology provides query/retrieve functionality with an embedded HIPAA authorization procedure for patients and consumers to access records from over 600,000 providers in the U.S. In addition, vendors from around the globe, Australia, Israel and China, to name a few, came to promote technologies that have the potential to change healthcare within the U.S.
Healthcare Policy Reform
Some of healthcare’s most influential leaders made their presence and efforts known through presentations and panel discussions. Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), spoke in one of the opening general sessions and was quoted as saying, “We [healthcare] needs more humility in Washington D.C.” Bernard Tyson, CEO of Keiser Permanente, gave a tear-jerker of a presentation on Keiser Permanente’s “Food for Life” program, which addresses hunger as a socioeconomic barrier in healthcare. The panel, titled “Transforming Claims, Billing & Payment”, addressed the need for payors and providers to reform policies and procedures with innovative claims and payment processing operations.
Connecting & Affecting Chronic Diseases
Chronic disease management and prevention were hot topics at the convention. Disparate and socioeconomic issues were discussed in individual sessions as variables that challenge the management of diseases. A standout panel, titled “Getting a Jump on Chronic Conditions”, was comprised of a roster of champions building innovative technologies that provide higher quality of life through holistic approaches in care. Hank Schlissberg, President of Vively Health, shared his company’s venture showing progress in improving patient experience by way of seamless coordination of home-based primary care through integration with Cerner’s electronic medical record (EMR) system.
AI, Telehealth & Pricing Transparency
Buzzwords from AI and blockchain to value-based and VR were bouncing around in the halls of the conference center. The panel discussion, titled “AI Accelerating Drug Discovery”, was well-moderated by Melinda Richter, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation department. The group discussed how AI and machine learning have been able to change the drug discovery process in a big way. Insilco Medicine, represented by Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, Founder and CEO, touched on how his company is pioneering next-generation AI technologies to accelerate biomarker development and clinical trial outcome predictions.
Big Name Skins in the Game
Amazon, Facebook, Google and Walmart were some of the big names talking about how they have skin in the healthcare game. Marcus Osborne, Vice President of Walmart’s Health & Wellness Transformation Program, gave the audience a virtual tour of the Care Clinic attached to a Walmart store in Carrollton, Georgia. A couple of innovative characteristics of the clinic include accepting appointment times between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., transparent pricing and health coaches taking patients through store tours to discuss what healthy choices are available to meet specific patient needs.
One of the highlights of the convention involved Mark Cuban’s keynote dialogue with Andy Slavitt, founder and board chair of United States of Care. Cuban lived up to his ability to entertain an audience and Slavitt did a wonderful job moderating the discussion. A memorable moment was when Cuban said emphatically, “…let’s f*#$ this industry up!” He went on to talk about buying out pharmaceutical companies and selling drugs at cost that will be a game-changer for the industry. Just like Cuban, this conference is doing just that, shaking up the healthcare industry through innovative technology. In a nutshell, HLTH 2019 did not disappoint.