Friday, March 1, 2024

Digital health leaders discuss their biggest takeaways from 2023 -Dlight News

Leaders in the digital health space relayed to MobiHealthNews what stood out to them in 2023 as the year draws to an end.

Many noted the meteoric rise of genAI in 2023 and expectations of growing adoption of the technology in 2024, emphasizing the importance of treading carefully as the tech is further implemented. Other stakeholders pinpointed bankruptcies and mergers and acquisitions as being noteworthy events.  

Dr. Peter Bonis, chief medical officer at Wolters Kluwer Health

“2023 has been another year where the thrum of existential concerns has grown a bit louder. There is no shortage of distressing topics: climate change, global conflicts, the residue of the pandemic and concerns over the next one, worsening life expectancy and infant mortality, persistent inequity, the possibility of technology advances leading to major workforce disruptions, and many other economic and social threats.  

Still, 2023 also bore witness to the potential for stunning technological advances and innovation to address some of these concerns and enhance the prosperity and health of people not only in the U.S. but everywhere. Despite our differences, we are all united by our biology and humanity. This was a year when AI fully entered public consciousness. The pace of change could only have been anticipated by devotees of science fiction. There is an exciting road ahead, and we can hope that we have the right captains and organizations to navigate through the opportunities to safely enhance all our lives.”

Matthew Stoudt, cofounder and CEO of AppliedVR

In the spirit of Charles Dickens, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’ with some big ups and downs, especially in the world of reimbursement. While we saw some very positive signs of adoption and advancement of digital health technologies across the healthcare system, we also saw some high-profile struggles. 

For example, on the one hand, [AppliedVR] was honored to receive a unique code and pricing determination from CMS, which put us in the final stages of broad reimbursement for our RelieVRx device. On the other hand, we saw a major player declare bankruptcy and another that needed to change their GTM [go-to-market] strategy due to a lack of reimbursement pathway through CMS. I think this shows that digital health entrepreneurs should be very mindful about how they can use the current system to drive disruption.”  

Doug Hirsch, cofounder and chief mission officer at GoodRx

“In 2023, we saw a lot of people with good intentions try to improve our broken healthcare system. The government capped the price of insulin and is in the process of negotiating brand drug prices for Medicare enrollees, and a bunch of health tech companies are trying to combat the burnout plaguing healthcare providers. The problem is, despite good intentions, progress is happening too slowly. 

My hope for 2024 is that the healthcare industry takes our collective good intentions and turns them into tangible, swift action. More industry collaboration around shared goals has the potential to truly change lives.” 

Neil Patel, head of new ventures at Redesign Health

“Generative AI emerged in the public sphere with OpenAI and ChatGPT in late 2022 but started making a splash in 2023. Some thought it was another hype cycle, but many, myself included, believe it has the potential to be a game-changing innovation for healthcare. 

Healthcare organizations ranging from providers to pharma to payors have become early adopters of the technology. Conversely, large payers (e.g., UHC, Cigna) are being sued for over-reliance on AI in certain situations, e.g., denying claims using AI.

Oracle’s acquisition of Cerner seems to have created some questions for health systems surrounding Cerner. For instance, some of Cerner’s more notable customers, like Intermountain Healthcare, Boston Children’s Hospital and UPMC, have switched to Epic.”

Russell Glass, CEO of Headspace Health

In 2023, we have seen a significant increase in the cost of health care that is leading to a hard look at health care budgets heading into 2024. At the same time, we are increasingly seeing how important mental health is to overall health outcomes and the total cost of healthcare. 

It’s clear that the expectation and need for comprehensive mental health support in the workplace is not diminishing, and employers who want to control health care costs should be increasingly investing in these offerings.”

Dr. Patrick Carroll, chief medical officer at  Hims & Hers

This year, we continued to see solid adoption of telehealth from consumers. However, what was most notable was that consumers are increasingly interested in personalized healthcare via telehealth. Simply delivering care via the same approaches en masse is not enough, so as greater technology advancements continue to allow providers to personalize care, we saw telehealth providers start to roll out customized treatments to healthcare consumers.”

Eran Orr, CEO of XRHealth

“The healthcare industry needs to find ways to translate AI into new solutions that aid treatments and reduce the burden from clinicians. In 2023, the industry discovered the capabilities that AI has and how we can use it, and in 2024, it needs to translate into real products that benefit patients. In the healthcare industry, there is a higher bar and a higher level of responsibility with HIPAA compliance and other regulations with little to no room for error–so we will see if AI can live up to the challenge!”

Munjal Shah, cofounder and CEO of Hippocratic AI

“Generative AI captured the world’s imagination this year, and healthcare was no exception. Most of 2023 was focused on developing generative AI solutions that aided back-office tasks, like revenue cycle management. While these can help save payers and providers costs, they are not patient-facing and hence can’t easily change health outcomes and inequities.”

Amit Khanna, senior vice president and general manager of health and life sciences at Salesforce 

Overall, I saw several trends that emerged across the healthcare ecosystem, notably: 

  • Providers are still facing labor shortages, and inflation is putting pressure on their operational cost.
  • Public health funding has increased, and the COVID platforms are being extended to become public health delivery platforms.
  • Value-based care models are being adopted.
  • Health plans are moving more towards member engagement. 
  • Digital health funding has decreased.”

Kevin McRaith, president and CEO of Welldoc

“The recent flurry of FDA approvals for GLP-1 medications has fueled an evolved focus on weight management. This new class of weight, obesity and cardiometabolic management drugs presents massive opportunities to impact immediate weight loss and improve overall health.

The call for advancing AI with the aim of optimizing care models and the care experience, while prioritizing personalized care and consumer engagement also persisted as key themes in 2023.”

Ann Bilew, SVP, health and group general manager,  WebMD Ignite

“What a wild and crazy year it was. We didn’t do anything small in 2023–it seemed every move was big. Major new drug launches; big splashy bankruptcies; significant disruptions in Medicaid; exciting, potentially game-changing technologies; abrupt leadership changes at some large organizations. It also appeared to be a ‘tale of two cities’ with some of the large players finding their footing and starting to report positive growth and a return to profitability while others continue to report record losses.”

The HIMSS AI in Healthcare Forum is taking place on December 14-15, 2023, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register

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