I had the opportunity to attend HLTH last month, an ecosystem event that brought together 6,000 leaders from across the health care field — including payers, providers, employers, investors, startups, pharma, policymakers and innovation centers. The goal, to answer one question: How do we create the future of health?

It was helpful to hear insights about value from those outside hospitals and health systems. Here are the top five things I took away from the experience:

1. Value was top of mind.

Value was mentioned in nearly every conversation I joined —from the main stage to the individual panel discussions. Participants from across sectors were intent on developing solutions that would lower health care costs, improve outcomes and enhance consumers’ health experiences.

2. Our consumers might not value what we think they do.

Patients want encouragement and compassion — not just care. For example, customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona have expressed that they most want their physicians to listen to them and build enough time into their visits, according to president Pam Kehaly.

And as Cambia Health Solution’s President and CEO Mark Ganz shared, we’re not necessarily the authority on what our customers need, and so we must include them as we design solutions. This means listening to patients, since patients with experience navigating health care are in the best position to identify its pain points, as Ivelyse Adino, CEO of Radical Health pointed out.

3. Consumers now have more accessible, integrated options.

Marcus Osborne, Walmart’s vice president of health transformation, shared that Walmart recently launched a Georgia health center that centralizes a full spectrum of primary and specialized care services, which it offers at flat fees to both uninsured and insured patients. The center also staffs care navigators, community health workers and nutritionists, and connects consumers to the resources they need to improve health. This model gives consumers easy access to affordable care when they need it.

4. Technology has the potential to improve value.

There was ample dialogue about the potential of blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), genomics and precision medicine to improve value in the future by preventing unnecessary and costly hospital visits.

David Feinberg, head of Google Health, mentioned that Google uses AI to help providers more rapidly predict conditions, such as kidney failure and diabetes, and utilizes deep learning models to detect a patient’s age, gender, smoking status and cardiovascular risk from retinal scans.

He also acknowledged that Google Search is one of the first places consumers go to learn about conditions and symptoms and mentioned that Google has plans to make the medical information that comes up within search results more accurate and reliable.

5. But, value will not be created by technology alone.

Value will not come directly from the next, best, app, digital technology solution or patient portal. It may come from low-tech solutions. This includes removing barriers to improved health.

Like hospitals, stakeholders across the field shared how they are focusing on social determinants.

Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW International (formerly Weight Watchers), said that we must integrate mental and physical health care strategies into our care, and be mindful of how patients’ eating habits and weight affect their health. Sara Seidelmann, a physician from Columbia University, cited the importance of nutrition to prevent chronic disease.

What do you think? Were you at HLTH, and if so, what were your takeaways? Contact me at pbathija@aha.org to share your thoughts and experiences — I would love to hear them. 

Priya Bathija is vice president of AHA’s The Value Initiative.

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