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Transforming the Next Decade of Health. Our Top 3 Themes from HLTH 2022.

By Nomi Health on November 23, 2022

Sara Ratner participating at a panel at HLTH

The healthcare system needs help. Last week at HLTH, the industry-leading health innovation conference, experts gathered to talk about what’s not working, what’s being done to solve issues, and where gaps exist that need attention.

While other industries are innovating and using technology to improve experiences and outcomes, somehow healthcare is still printing out schedules and withholding prices for services. We all know the system needs to change, but who will be the ones to make it happen? Common sense exists among people who work in healthcare, but not the systems. The systems operate as fortresses against common sense. The historical systems we have relied on are now, in themselves, a barrier to real change. There is no longer time to turn a blind eye or simply talk about problems. We must create and implement solutions or things will continue to get worse. We’ve said it before, and we will keep saying it: Healthcare needs a rebuild, not just a renovation. 

During the conference, our team attended dozens of talks, panels, and sessions dedicated to the myriad of issues in healthcare and solutions being considered. We also launched a huge spoof campaign, but you’ll have to read about that here. The standout topics that seemed to permeate the HLTH conference were mental health and wellness, health equity, and the role of technology in healthcare.

Nomi Health booth at HLTH Las Vegas

Mental Health and Wellness 

Many sessions at the conference focused on mental health and wellness. Let’s start with some sobering statistics highlighted during several sessions.  

It’s clear that mental health is something that we cannot ignore. The pandemic forced employers to adapt to life outside of work and put work/life balance at the forefront of employees' concerns.  

Specifically, mental health in the workplace was a big focus for many companies at HLTH. Employees are looking to their employers for help. In fact, a vast majority (87%) of employees think actions from their employer would help their mental health. As a result, many companies are rolling out new resources and capabilities for their workforce including access to mental health resources as part of their benefits packages for employees as well as their families. Acknowledging that “It’s ok to not be ok” is as important as providing the resources. Undoing the taboo that you cannot show weakness or ask for help if you are struggling.  

Companies like Calm are focused on bringing meditation resources to employees, helping them handle stress at work and at home and discover healthy coping strategies.  

There is still a long way to go in addressing mental health in the workplace, but it is encouraging to know companies recognize the burden and are seeking ways to help employees and offer resources and tools to help.  

Health Equity 

Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. According to the CDC, achieving this requires ongoing societal efforts to: 

  • Address historical and contemporary injustices; 

  • Overcome economic, social, and other obstacles to health and health care; and 

  • Eliminate preventable health disparities.

To achieve health equity, we must change the systems and policies that have resulted in the generational injustices that give rise to racial and ethnic health disparities. 

A core theme at HLTH focused on access to healthcare, health equity, and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). Sara Ratner, Nomi Health's President of Government Programs, spoke during a panel discussion on this exact topic: Digital health for Equitable Health: Leveraging the Role of Policy.  

“There is a fundamental flaw in digital health,” Ratner said during the panel. “We presume everyone has access to care through technology, broadband, digital literacy. But that’s not the case. Nomi exists to help deliver on some of those inequalities that have manifested through digital health. We fill a gap. We are committed to underserved communities. We are bold, trying to change the way healthcare is delivered through a whole person approach.”  

We must look at populations and see who is falling through the cracks and meet people where they are. This includes standalone clinics, mobile clinics, and telehealth. We cannot force people into an antiquated broken system, but rather, create a system around people.  

The Role of Technology in Healthcare 

Covid forced us to use healthcare in a different way. We are delivering care in new ways, bringing it to people in their homes. Many speakers and panelists spoke about how prior to Covid, the healthcare industry was hesitant to adopt telehealth, insurance companies wouldn’t cover the cost of it, and no one focused on truly making it work. But once Covid hit and lockdowns began, things changed instantly, and it became clear technology was going to play a major role in the future of healthcare.  

The conversation now is not about when technology will change healthcare, but how. Healthcare is finally realizing we need to make it easy for people. But we must be cognizant of ethical standards, safety, and an ever-widening digital divide.  

As we build new tools, we must remind ourselves that if tools are not useful, they will not be used. We can build all the tools we want, but if we don’t ask who gets access to them, then what is it all for? They must be intuitive and have education around them to promote adoption.  

It’s our job to bring care to people where they are, and technology can help us reach people. 

Final Thoughts on HLTH 

Gathering with 10,000 other healthcare professionals last week was humbling as we talked about the large problems that exist in the healthcare system. COVID-19 brought to light how utterly broken things are across the entire industry. Nurses and doctors are burnt out, mental health problems are increasing, access to healthcare is still too difficult and expensive. While these problems can feel overwhelming, we also came away from the conference feeling even more assured that our mission of rebuilding the healthcare system and bringing affordable, accessible healthcare to everyone is more important than ever.