A HIMSS Event | SANTA CLARA, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2019
The 13th edition of Health 2.0 marks a time for the little industry that has grown up around cloud-based health tech (or digital health or Health 2.0 or SMAC Health or even eHealth or mHealth if you prefer!) to pause and take a breath. While it seems like healthcare has been in constant evolution for a decade or more, much has not changed. The typical doctor and hospital live in a fee-for-service world. Most patients are not using telehealth, remote monitoring or coaching services, although they are online all the time looking for information and each other. While clinicians are using EMRs—after the taxpayer dumped in $40 billion to make it so—those systems would be very familiar to anyone wandering the HIMSS exhibit floor around 1998. And of course 23 years after HIPAA passed into law guaranteeing that they have the right to it, no one can get their own data.
But it’s almost worse than that. Even though the ACA changed much for the better, 10% of Americans remain uninsured and several million more are virtually uninsured in that they can’t afford to pay their deductibles. Even those with insurance are often getting huge and sometimes surprise bills. While the ACA was supposed to solve those problems, Milliman reported that in 2019 the hypothetical employed and insured family’s healthcare costs exceeded $28,000, with employers paying $16,000 and the employee paying the $12,000 balance in premium contributions and out of pocket. No wonder more than 50% of the population likes the idea of Medicare For All, even if they can’t agree on what it means.
The early days of Health 2.0 brought a burst of optimism. Patients were going to take charge of their care. Transparency into pricing and process was going to enable the best and cheapest providers and services to expand market share. The triple aim (access up, quality up, costs down) was going to be brought live onto our computer and phone screens. Reality has been a lot less exciting.
Perhaps though, what’s old is new again. And better funded. We have had three major digital health IPOs, one of which (Livongo) is taking aim directly at improving the experience and outcomes of chronically ill patients while lowering their costs. More and more funding is going into new types of providers (One Medical, Iora, Firefly, VillageMD et al), health plans (Bright, Oscar, Clover) and tech-enabled services (too many to list). Digital therapeutics are potentially going to replace a raft of ineffective drugs. All of this is starting to be noticed by the current healthcare giants, and if you squint hard enough it looks like some of those incumbents (United? Humana? Providence?) are starting to change their business models enough to take advantage of the new technology in order to really change how care is delivered and at what cost.
It’s easy to be cynical about American healthcare. But when something is unsustainable, in the long run it will end. And that sounds like healthcare today. If something is going to be a big deal in the future, it’s got to start somewhere. If the change is going to come, the place you’ll see it first is at Health 2.0.
Hope to see you there,
Health 2.0 Co-Founder