Last week I spent 4 days at the inaugural HLTH conference in Las Vegas. The goal of HLTH was to initiate a collaboration to “take the waste out of health care.” Intrigued with the goal, me and 3,499 people from many areas of healthcare, ventured into Las Vegas to focus on the problems with our existing health care system and share potential solutions.
Just to clarify the attendees, those represented were digital health care companies, health plans, health systems, employer health care consultants, employers, and venture capitalists. My primary interest was how all these interesting and innovative solutions can or will impact the employer community. More specifically, how these newer health solutions effectively impact employer health cost and deliver substantial results while bringing ease to employers and their employees. There were 3 specific areas that stood out to me. Areas that will continue to gain attention in the public health space and consequently influence employer offerings.
The conference kicked off with lots of energy around population health, personalized medicine, big data, and genomics. We heard examples of how the state of Nevada, payer collaborations, and pharma partnerships are coming together to make genetic results relevant to managing our health. The potential impacts in this area are huge! There are employers who now are providing employees access to genetic tests. Tests that inform the employees how they can be healthier. As genomics expands and the opportunities to use the results grows, I see this becoming a much more desired health benefit.
I listened to many speakers and panelists who often described the impact of nutrition on health. There is nothing new about this statement. What did surprise me was the lack of innovative nutrition solutions available. Surveys indicate that workplace wellness nutrition programs are on the down trend. That makes sense as there are plenty of options and information available directly to the consumer. However, with growth in the genetic and microbiome fields, personalized nutrition is a hot topic. We will have the ability to know exactly what we should or should not be eating to support our personal health. I still see that people will need personal coaching and support. In the end, it’s still about behavior change.
Despite all the conversation about changing the health care game, there were few clinicians present. Sure the place was full of doctors who were involved in health care technology or investments but where were the clinicians who work with the patients? I shared lunch one day with a physician and nurse practitioner who attended the conference completely due to their personal interest. They were “blown away” by the energy that is evolving around and impacting their profession. They were also in agreement with many of the solutions and the positive impact that these solutions can make to their work. I would like to have more practicing clinicians a part of this discussion and I’m sure there will be. We certainly need our clinicians and having a true patient centered solution would be great for all of us.
As the year progresses, we’ll be emerged in this digital health care evolution as well as other interesting happenings such as the CVS / Aetna merger and the Amazon/ JP Morgan Chase/Berkshire Hathaway partnerships. The changes will impact all of us and will certainly impact employer health strategy as it relates to their employees. I’m not sure how but, whether or not we’re ready, it’s definitely an exciting time.