The theme of HLTH VRTL 2020 reflected not only the new virtual format of the conference, but also the dramatic virtual shift toward telehealth. Over the 5 days of content, 24 keynotes, 10 one-on-one debate-style presentations, 30 ground-breaking announcements, and 15+ community programs, these 3 takeaways resonated throughout the event.
1. COVID-19 has Accelerated Digital Health Tenfold
Patients and providers never utilized telemedicine the way it is used now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The convenience of many digital health tools is gaining more recognition than ever before. Consumers expect this omni-channel delivery approach in retail, and now healthcare too.
As Anand Iyer, our Chief Strategy Officer, mentioned during a session in partnership with the American Telemedicine Association, Telehealth IS Health, “The blockbuster drug of the century will be the engaged patient. Health has to have a fundamental tech component moving forward.”
The consumer experience is now about providing telehealth in the path of least resistance to develop a longitudinal care model – a model that emphasizes that everyday life is part of the continuity of care.
The acceleration of digital health is due in large part to the expansion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services waiver in March of 2020. As we look to Congress to permanently remove barriers to telehealth, we are reframing what telehealth’s goal is. It is not to take the place of the provider, but to instead augment care. The new landscape of healthcare will look like an integration of telehealth services, on-site options, and remote patient monitoring as a holistic approach to care.
2. Sharing Healthcare Data is Mission Critical
The future of a diverse healthcare delivery requires the sharing of information between the entire care team. As the industry shifts to implement virtual care into the fold, insights from remote patient monitoring tools are integral.
Malinda Peeples, our SVP of Clinical Programs, joined a panel on the clinical adoption of digital health solutions. She discussed with panelists the importance of systemic approaches to advance the quadruple aim and the ICC framework: identify, configure, and collaborate.
“The fact is, that with COVID-19 and the last 6 months, we needed to pivot and use technology in ways we hadn’t been prepared to, but the technology infrastructure is there. We are learning a lot more about how we can advance the quadruple aim.”
A statement that was echoed at the conference was the need for standardization of analyzing data in digital health. This would allow for the sharing of insights and discoveries while maintaining patient privacy. The healthcare industry must make data interoperable.
3. It’s Time to Own Healthcare Disparities
At the intersection between digital health and healthcare, the industry needs to do more to target disparities prevalent in underserved populations.
“6 out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have at least 1 chronic condition,” Cathy Zaremba, our Director of Product Marketing stated to Anand Iyer on their session Telehealth IS Health citing the CDC. The US Department of Health and Human Services published a recent study on health equity that explained the prevalence of chronic conditions as being directly associated with race/ethnicity, access to education, geographic patterns and socioeconomic status.
Anand Iyer explained, “The statistics are actually quite alarming, and it’s a call-to-action. Deaths for COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions is 12x higher. We can do better. We can help these people. That’s where we should all be focusing.” We now know that social determinants of health are directly linked to risk of COVID-19. As digital health booms during this time, the data collected is an opportunity to identify the gaps in equity and ensure access to care for all.
While we missed the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas and the endless opportunities to network with healthcare leaders, HLTH VRTL 2020 appropriately focused on the innovation of all things virtual.