Key Takeaways from HLTH 2020

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In a year where everything has changes, HLTH is no exception. It’s first-all digital format presented a new way for attendees to participate in the event and allowed speakers to deliver their latest achievements while practicing safe distancing. This new format also allows users to view announcements on-demand, which I greatly appreciate because I no longer have to run from one banquet hall to another. I was able to view all the presentations, instead of having to pick which one might offer more insight over another.

While attendees can’t ask questions of the presenters in real time, a dedicated Slack channel did help to create engagement and I saw a great deal of lively conversations happening there. After a week-long blitz of presentations and interactions, here are a few of my observations from this year’s HLTH:

COVID-19 is still a big deal

HLTH 2020 was influenced in large part by the current pandemic, not simply with just the shift to an all-digital format, but also as an overarching theme permeating throughout nearly every presentation. Whether it’s the role of COVID in driving innovation and patient-first approach to delivering care, or apps and platforms developed specifically for diagnosing COVID, many health systems are making a rapid shift to meet this moment and deliver new technologies to help organizations for the foreseeable future. IBM Watson Health showcased a digital health pass that will allow patients to keep a digital patient health record on their smartphone to showcase COVID (and other) health results at the ready. metaME premiered their COV I.D. that allows users to monitor vitals via smartphone that would then determine if a person presents a risk for COVID and capture all results of previous tests.

Power to the patient

Personalized care might be the second most popular term used at HLTH after COVID. More organizations are shifting to more personalization in care treatments, either in how they diagnosis and administer care or throughout the care journey. Roche spoke of personalizing care down to the molecular level and reinventing how that process operates outward – including hospitals, payers, diagnostics, therapy, etc. – to ensure patients are engaged and educated in every step. Novartis is working to reduce complexities for patients, so the process is simplified, and seamless from physician to patient, with less uncertainty in post-discharge moments. They have even developed a new Biome digital segment of their business to help connect the various digital parts of a patient’s life to streamline integration and reduce barriers. Patients now have greater power in the healthcare ecosystem, and organizations are rushing to meet new tech requirements as they become savvy and more digitally engaged.

Home is the new care setting

Patients want care in formats that are on their terms, and more of that is happening at home. To that end, I heard several companies making announcements around the expansion of telehealth. Google Home and Amwell announced new partnership to drive greater enhancements to AI and telehealth. Using Google Home devices as a support tool following a telehealth visit to help patients stay engaged in their treatment protocols. Amwell also spoke of its efforts to use voice as a modality to enhance engagement, and speed delivery to patients while capturing additional insights. Amazon Alexa is also pioneering its use of in-home AI devices to assist with medication management, support ongoing physical activity, and connect users with clinicians through digital means. The future of digital health will all be built around the home, and how more services can be delivered at home.

Digital Therapeutics is Booming

As more patients quickly adopt digital health tools to help monitor their health and become more engaged, the area of digital therapeutics is quickly gaining attention. And not just with patients but also among health care organizations and pharma companies as they all look for new and innovative ways to reach patients. Executives at Pear Therapeutics and Noom spoke of ways they are expanding the use of digital therapeutics via partnerships, and the opportunity to connect conditions, treatments, and support with patients. Sanofi and Click Therapeutics are also creating new partnership models to help bring pharma guidance direct to patients through either brands or therapeutic areas, with tailored support in oncology, neurology, and respiratory specialty areas. With changes to current economic settings, the social distancing brought about by the pandemic, digital therapeutics is providing an increased opportunity to reach patients in their home.

From the first-ever virtual HLTH conference to industry awareness of the engaged patient, it’s clear we’ve reached a pivot point in digital health with greater connectivity, tech-driven patient support models, and data focused health systems. I anticipate 2021 will continue to see even greater expansion of digital health platforms and increased patient engagement to give the connected user more actionable insights to manage their health.

I know much of this and more will be covered in an upcoming conversation with HLTH during our webinar on 10/22. Be sure to attend our roundtable discussion on The Rise of Digital Pharma and Patient Support. Join me and leaders from Novartis, Novo Nordisk, and Accenture as we explore how digital pharma is shaping patient support models for the foreseeable future.