The 5 Trends You Couldn’t Miss at the 2020 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference
Once a year, a distinct and unmissable buzz takes hold of San Francisco’s Financial District as thousands of the nation’s top healthcare executives suit up and descend upon the city for the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Equipped with an equal dose of excitement and curiosity, I decided to join the party last week and find out for myself what the state of healthcare is at the break of this new decade and where it’s aiming to arrive by the end of it.
As I sifted through the notes I jotted down during these 3 eventful days, I found that the same few words and key phrases kept popping up. From networking mixers to packed meeting rooms, even extending to coffee shops and bars around Union Square, you couldn’t help but hear the same topics repeating themselves in a myriad of ways.
So, having narrowed the list to just 5, here are the trends that dominated JPM2020:
1. Use Your Data
Speaking at the McDermott & EY Digital Health Pioneers Forum, Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, brought forth what he believes to be one of the greatest challenges faced by the industry at the moment: how to use data wisely.
It seems that this decade’s “medical arms race” will be determined by which health systems turn their data liquid, quickly and efficiently. The victors will be those treating the data they’ve amassed as a valuable resource, coupling it with AI capabilities to streamline consolidations, research, patient access, navigation and registration while improving clinical outcomes and financial performance.
Within this category, I had 3 key observations:
A. Innovative, smart solutions are direly needed to overcome this issue.
B. This is the right time and place. The cutting-edge technology required to leverage mass amounts of data and transform it into valuable patient journey insights exists. Now it’s time for implementation.
C. As new solutions develop, proper security measures must be taken to guarantee that PHI remains private, but at the same time, we shouldn’t let these concerns stand in the way of progress.
In a crowded space — which is becoming even more competitive with the steady steps made into the field by consumer-centric giants such as Walmart and CVS — healthcare providers are starting to shift their perspective and strategies from a B2B to B2C mindset. Why not schedule a doctor’s appointment with the same ease of booking an Uber? Or order a flu shot on an Amazon-like interface? Why not turn healthcare into a shopping experience? Consumerism came up quite frequently as the solution to the patient access problem, with a slew of promising new startups trying to carve an edge for themselves in this sphere.
Naturally, this progressive approach was met with some fierce backlash. One distinct fear shared by many in opposition was that in the process of commercializing care, the patients will get left behind. Is consumerism really the best way to improve the patient experience or does it transform the very core of healthcare into a solely transactional affair? How do we consumerize finding a doctor while still remaining sensitive and personal?
3. Consolidation Requires Modularity at Scale
2019 saw many major hospital consolidations, with medical centers joining forces to increase their outreach and improve patient care. One of our most valued clients, Weill Cornell Medicine went through such a process years ago when it consolidated with New York-Presbyterian and Columbia Medical Center, emerging as one of the top healthcare providers in the world.
These types of consolidations have become more frequent over the years as the “bigger is better” mantra continues to percolate into the healthcare industry. But along with the clear benefits of expansion there lies a host of maladies that, if left untreated, can fester and evolve rapidly into enterprise-wide viruses (excuse the medical puns).
As networks continue to grow, scalable and modular solutions are absolutely crucial. For newly consolidated organizations to successfully integrate their different databases and widespread sources, they need to implement innovative platforms that can support this type of transition with ease.
Approximately 8% of U.S. hospitals are at risk of closure and another 10% are showing signs of weak performance. Add these figures to a nation-wide shift to value-based payment models, and the need for long-term sustainability plans becomes clear. Service diversification with a strong emphasis on outpatient care seemed to echo throughout the conference as the likeliest strategic solution many hospitals are expected to adopt.
Coming up with new revenue streams also creates a need for greater diversity in the healthcare ecosystem. For me, the Deloitte women’s networking event stood out in that regard and was one of the most productive meetings I attended, with innovative ideas coming to surface and strong connections made.
It’ll be interesting to witness what creative trends of diversification will come to light in the years ahead.
5. Digital Transformation
What used to be an emerging topic in previous years is now an industry-wide consensus. Nowhere was this more apparent than at JPM, where the phrase “digital transformation” was used ad nauseam. No longer in the realm of early-adoption, health systems that fail to keep up with this evolution are being labeled as “late to the game”.
While there seemed to be different definitions of what exactly digital transformation means in 2020, Intermountain Healthcare CFO Bert Zimmerli had his own version to offer, aptly referring to this concept as an “asset-light expansion strategy”, touting the fact that Intermountain’s virtual hospital delivered over 700,000 virtual interactions since it launched in 2019.
But perhaps the most striking evidence of digital health transformation evolving from trend to necessity was found in the words of ChristianaCare CEO Dr. Janice Nevin when she said:
“Our mindset is that our role is to ensure everything that can be digital, will be digital.”
As the COO at Hyro, my team and I endeavor to empower healthcare CIOs and digital departments with the ability to unleash the type of digital transformation that’ll supercharge their patient journey. Powered by cutting-edge natural language capabilities, our plug & play solution seamlessly transforms valuable data sources into superior conversational AI, allowing hospitals and medical centers to grow at scale.
If you’d like to explore the intersection of healthcare and technology and what conversational AI can do for your organization, visit our website or drop me a line at [email protected] and join the discussion on LinkedIn.