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Upcoming Meeting Demonstrates Digital Health Is Not Dead Yet

Recent reports of the death of Digital Health may be greatly exaggerated, but the emerging sector faces clear growing pains as healthcare’s hospital systems struggle to incorporate new technologies in patient management, billing, and treatment while also pushing back against financial pressures.

These challenges haven’t quite reached the Sisyphean scale yet, but the continued evolution of Digital Health start-ups will require buy-in from healthcare’s providers, payers, patients, and policy leaders. Leaders from those critical constituencies will be gathering on November 30 at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit at the Mandarin Hotel in Boston.

“The business of delivering and paying for healthcare fundamentally needs to change,” says Bill Geary, general partner at Boston-based Flare Capital and co-chair of the Summit.  “The simple fact is hospital executives face the reality of declining revenue, rising costs, and increasing losses.”

The daylong summit – the seventh annual event produced by Healthegy Inc. – will present over a dozen sessions with Digital Health leaders, featuring colleagues and luminaries from across the country. Robert Mittendorff, MD, principal at Norwest Venture Partners in Palo Alto, serves as the co-chair of the event with Geary.

The provider discussions will deliver a national perspective, bringing together financial and innovation executives from Allina Health Systems, St. Luke’s Health System, Johns Hopkins, NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, and Providence St. Joseph Health. In two separate panels, CFOs and innovation officers will discuss their roles in ensuring any new technologies coming into health systems do no harm.

Technology is a critical part, but how are providers identifying the right technology, and securing buy-in from physicians and administrators while also keeping an eye on the bottom line?

Certainly, telehealth, concierge models, and apps can bridge the gap between primary care and specialist physicians and patients. But are they handling enough traffic to make a real difference?

A panel of CEOs from leading healthcare-on-demand players – including Accolade, Grand Rounds, and American Well, which recently inked a deal with Apple – will chart their progress and take measure of the risks that still lay ahead.

Payers won’t escape scrutiny. Recent efforts to reform the payer industry may be moving slowly, but they’re desperately needed. “Finding a better way to pay providers is one of the largest roadblocks to reducing healthcare costs,” Geary asserts. “This is above and beyond the regulatory landscape, the Affordable Care Act, everything.” Leaders from Oscar, Bright Health, and Humana will assess the current push for insurance innovation.

Times are challenging, but the potential for technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning is very real.  Two of the principal architects of AI’s role in healthcare – Zak Kohane, PhD, Harvard Medical School and Atul Butte, PhD, University of California, San Francisco – will match their varying perspectives on the enormous opportunity ahead.

“They both agree the AI revolution is happening,” Geary explains. “It’s real. It’s not overhyped. In fact, it’s under-hyped. That’s how they both feel. The differences may lie in where will AI get traction? How will it impact healthcare? That is where they may diverge.”

But the ongoing war over healthcare reform and universal healthcare will have an enormous impact going forward.

Few have a better grasp of how public policy can inspire, influence, and yes, impede healthcare innovation than Karen DeSalvo, MD, the former acting assistant secretary for health and national coordinator for health IT.

Dr. DeSalvo’s career has taken her from the frontlines of healthcare – including the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina – to leading the charge to develop an interoperable health IT system.

In another keynote conversation, attendees of the summit will hear from Deborah DiSanzo, general manager, IBM Watson Health. Two years ago, DiSanzo took the top spot at IBM Watson Health to integrate the company’s cognitive computer platform into healthcare’s wide-ranging constituents from pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies.

In this interview, DiSanzo will share how IBM Watson measures success in this increasingly competitive landscape. How does she measure success? What’s the next challenge facing tech leaders trying to tame healthcare costs and improve patient care?

The Digital Health sector isn’t dead yet. But entrepreneurs, investors, and healthcare executives shouldn’t ignore warnings from cautionary investors who know the sector. The best way to stave off potential doom is connecting with the essential players – the payers, the providers, the patients, and the policy leaders – who ultimately will determine whether or not a start-up fails or succeeds. Hear their words, and heed them.

The summit sold-out the past two years, so be sure to reserve your seat today. For more information, visit the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit website.

Tom Salemi

Tom Salemi

    A follower and fan of medtech for nearly two decades, Tom Salemi is the former bureau chief, venture capital, at Elsevier Business Intelligence, where he oversaw coverage of venture investments in medtech.Prior to working at Elsevier, he served as senior staff writer at Windhover Information and news editor at Dow Jones where he edited the Venture Capital Analyst: Health Care, a monthly newsletter. He also oversaw the daily life science coverage of VentureWire. Before leading those publications, Tom covered Boston’s health care and life science industries for the Boston Business Journal and worked at several newspapers in the Boston area.A lifelong resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Tom graduated from Boston University and still resides in the Boston area with his wife and two sons.

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