The fifth annual HLTH conference kicks off Sunday in Las Vegas, with four full days of programming at one of the biggest healthcare gatherings of the year.
HLTH’s agenda revolves around the conference’s main stage, which will host speeches and Q&As with some of the biggest names in healthcare from the Biden administration, Amazon, HCA, Google, Walgreens, Centene and more. But also important are the breakaway panels, which will dive more deeply into the specific trends and challenges facing U.S. healthcare industry today.
Here are five key sessions that aren’t taking place on the main stage.
Unicorns Aren't Real
A surge of funding flowed to digital health companies beginning in 2020, as the pandemic proved the value proposition of remotely delivered care, the need to address America’s mental health crisis, adoption of real-world evidence and more. But that wave began to slow in 2022, with recent analyses finding dollars to digital health startups are shrinking from 2021’s record highs. Valuations have taken a sizable hit this year, and it’s unclear whether the market volatility will let up amid concerns of a pending recession.
In this panel, representatives from some of the biggest VC firms in healthcare will debate the sustainability of the health tech funding storm, along with companies that are strongest coming out of the boom, how investors are reevaluating their portfolios and what the future holds for digital health.
- Andrew Adams, co-founder and managing partner of Oak HC/FT
- Emily Melton, managing partner at Threshold
- Krishna Yeshwant, a general partner at GV, the venture capital arm of Alphabet
- Glen Tullman, Livongo founder and current CEO of employer-sponsored benefits startup Transcarent
The panel will be moderated by Rock Health COO Megan Zweig.
Monday at 10:10 a.m. PT on the Gallery Stage.
The Risky Business of Value-Based Care
Many stakeholders in the healthcare system have pushed for reforms to tie payments to the quality of care providers deliver, instead of the volume of services provided. But it’s unclear how much these endeavors have moved the needle.
Research showing the majority of payments are still fee-for-service illustrates the difficulty of transitioning to a risk-based approach. One recent study found roughly 41% of healthcare payments in 2020 flowed through an alternative payment model, according to the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network.
At this panel, speakers will cover the challenges and benefits of value-based care as the system continues to aim toward quality over quantity. The panel includes representatives from value-based primary care chain Oak Street Health, addiction care provider Eleanor Health, rural healthcare startup Homeward and the Mayo Clinic.
Monday at 11 a.m. PT on the Gallery Stage.
Private Equity: Villain or Unsung Hero?
Private equity’s presence in healthcare is rising — as is controversy around whether its profit goals are at odds with the needs of patients. Some are optimistic about PE, arguing that the surge in investment can improve operations at payers and providers. Others are worried that PE firms will incentivize short-term profits at the expense of all else, resulting in poorer and costlier care.
President Joe Biden has even expressed concern with the growing trend of PE ownership in nursing homes.
But PE isn’t going away anytime soon. After investments dwindled in 2020 as the pandemic emerged, the total disclosed value of PE investment in healthcare more than doubled globally year over year to reach $151 billion in 2021, according to Bain data.
In this panel, PE investors from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, KKR and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice will make their case for how the firms can help health innovation flourish, without compromising the quality of patient care.
Monday at 4:20 p.m. PT on the Gallery Stage.
Doom or Boom? Digital Health’s Financial Future
The current market downturn following the digital health boom has contributed to a spate of layoffs at digital health companies, including Cerebral, Noom and Signify. In this panel, investors will evaluate the state of the market, give short- and long-term predictions, issue advice for founders during this unstable time and outline how — though 2022 and 2023 will prove a test of resilience for many startups — it could be a massive opportunity for companies to demonstrate value.
This panel includes:
- Cheri Mowrey, head of U.S. healthcare in Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division
- Jonathan Bush, CEO of Zus Health
- Michael Yang, managing partner at OMERS Ventures
- Missy Krasner, venture chair of Redesign Health
Tuesday at 11 a.m. PT on the Arena Stage.
What Does Disruption in Health Even Mean?
Big tech companies have been foraying deeper into healthcare, with ventures ranging from cloud computing for medical data to clinical decision support — and even direct care delivery.
Google is working on interoperable medical images, provider appointment scheduling and making Fitbit into a medical device. Apple’s doing the same with its Apple Watches, and making its other devices more health-focused. Similarly, Microsoft acquired a clinical voice-to-text company for $19.7 billion, and continues to build out its healthcare cloud offering, while Amazon has grown to include an online pharmacy and a primary care provider, with its $3.9 billion One Medical buy.
That isn’t to say they haven’t run into trouble. For example, Google disbanded its health-specific unit last year, while Amazon has shuttered not one but two of its health ventures. On this panel, representatives from Google, Microsoft and Salesforce will discuss how they’re working to disrupt healthcare and whether the industry is open to meaningful change.
Tuesday at 4:20 p.m. PT on the Arena Stage.