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Notes from HLTH 2023

Blog by Salim Kizaraly - Co-Founder and Head of Products and Services

April 2024

HLTH 2023 was bigger than ever with over 10,000 attendees, with its signature style of rich content, attendees' engagement, celebrity speakers and leadership participation from across the industry in the way that the event has come to be known for over the last 6 years. I certainly never imagined going to a healthcare conference would be exciting, entertaining and just… fun, all the while getting some serious business done!

This year, here are some of the trends that caught my attention (among many others):

  • Food as medicine continues to gain momentum and attention - there was a separate section of the exhibit dedicated to companies working on how food, whether in its normal form or through other types such as dietary supplements, can be a powerful "medicine" to better manage or even reverse many illnesses, chronic or otherwise. (e.g. FarmboxRx, Season Health, NourishedRx).
  • Workforce management companies are trying to cope with the physical, emotional and mental burnout clinicians continue to face in a post-COVID era, fueling an exodus from the profession and/or search for alternative options to practice medicine in a more sustainable way (e.g. PocketRN, Plannly Health | Powered By Google).
  • I met several Employer solutions companies that are offering benefits or services that make employees healthier and/or help them save money on healthcare services they fund for employees. Considering employers are one of the biggest purchasers and actual "payers" of health care, this makes a lot of sense (e.g. OneImaging, bitewell).
  • Mental health, another COVID casualty and the "silent epidemic" that continues to worsen, was a prominent topic of discussion. (e.g. Remble Health, NOCD, Caraway). Overheard at one of the presentations:

We ALL have mental health issues, whether we know it or not.

  • Consumer devices for the ongoing monitoring of , or for medication administration, are becoming commonplace. These smart devices that come in the form of patches or wearables send data to the cloud, enabling many current and future use cases ranging from illness management, research or therapy outcomes surveillance (e.g. OxiWear, AION Biosystems).
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - AI here, AI there, AI everywhere!... AI, was, expectedly, the dominant theme. It was ALL over the place. Remember how blockchain was all the rage back in '17-'19? There was not a single sign - not ONE, anywhere - that boasted blockchain (as humanity's lifesaver…)! Doesn't mean there wasn't any company at the show that's not using blockchain - it's just that it's become a tool, just like any other technology, that can be leveraged for the right use cases. And that is how we should think of AI - as a tool that is going to augment users' ability to do their jobs faster, in a more informed and productive way. There is no doubt that AI is going to significantly improve the way clinicians use and leverage technology, with a level of experience never seen before. We, at Stella Technology, are working on some of those in our Equinox cloud-EMR product. But to all those who claim to have AI in their product: PLEASE, advanced rules + workflow + process automation, is NOT artificial intelligence!

All in all, it was very encouraging to see the number of startups that are trying to bring the kind of fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking that the industry needs so badly. Despite the uneasiness around the economic environment (further exasperated by the recent conflict in the Middle East), and an investment outlook that has cooled down quite a bit in the past year, it was impressive to see the amount of companies that were exhibiting. Healthcare innovation is here to stay! As always, the best part of any conference is making new memories with old friends, and meeting new ones - such as Nick Jonas who was an absolute class act in letting me take a quick (and blurry!) selfie with him, which scored me HUGE points with my teenage daughters... and if that is the only thing that comes out of HLTH this year, then it was all well worth it!

The Burj Khalifa
Nick Jonas, who speaks openly about his life with diabetes, was so gracious to let me take a quick selfie with him, which made my family's day!

The Burj Khalifa
With Anthony Leon (who officially "inducted" me to the #picksockslife), Jon Warner (the "Ultimate Connector"), Jean-Philbert Nsengimana (the "Voice of Africa"), and Aun Raza (the man who makes it all happen at Stella)

The Burj Khalifa
Receptions, meetups and after parties is where it all happens... With the legendary Nick Adkins, and industry leaders Paul Wilder, Shavini Fernando, John Moore III, Matt Guldin, Scott Stuewe, Marc Lassaux, Kendall Stanley and Lalo Valdez

What did you think of the conference, what were your takeaways? Are you returning next year?

HLTH | Anthony Leon | Jon Warner | Jean Philbert NSENGIMANA (Phil) | Aun Raza | Nicholas Adkins, MBA | Paul Wilder | Shavini Fernando | John Moore III | Matt Guldin | Scott Stuewe | Marc Lassaux | Kendall Stanley, Sr. | Lalo Valdez