Loneliness: The Tip of the Health ViceBerg

Health experts have long argued that poor behaviors are responsible for the majority of poor health in the U.S. population. A 2018 article published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health notes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates chronic diseases account for nearly 75 percent of aggregate (U.S.) healthcare spending or an estimated $5,300 per person annually. The article goes on to state that:

“Nearly half (approximately 45%, or 133 million) of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, and the number is growing. Chronic diseases—including, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, respiratory diseases, arthritis, obesity, and oral diseases—can lead to hospitalization, long-term disability, reduced quality of life, and death. In fact, persistent (chronic) conditions are the nation’s leading cause of death and disability.”

It seems strange that “loneliness” isn’t listed as a “chronic condition” by the U.S. CDC when just one year ago, in partnership with Ipsos, Cigna conducted a national online survey of 20,000 U.S. adults that explored the impacts of loneliness on health – the headline of the report read: “Loneliness At Epidemic Levels In America”.  In the survey, Cigna pointed out that:

  • Nearly half of Americans report feeling alone
  • Only half have meaningful, in-person social interactions on a daily basis
  • Gen Z (ages 18-22) is the loneliest and, ironically, the Greatest Generation (ages 72+) is the least lonely

The survey also stated that people reporting being less lonely are more likely to be in good overall physical and mental health.

The health impacts associated with loneliness are well documented. The impacts include:

  • Raising levels of stress hormones
  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, behavioral-related conditions (including drug addiction, obesity, smoking, and poor sleep), and mental health conditions (including depression, immobility, and attempted suicide)

Maybe it’s time we add “loneliness” to the top of the list of chronic conditions impacting ill health.

Melting Away Chronic Loneliness to Improve Health Below the Surface

Backed by ample research revealing the negative impacts of loneliness on health, the health industry has a grand opportunity to treat the loneliness in plain sight, as much as – and perhaps before focusing on – health conditions that haven’t yet surfaced. What if every preventative screen, health scan, online coaching discussion, health app, employer wellness program, and benefits enrollment process began with the question: do you ever feel lonely?

Focusing on identifying and addressing loneliness is beginning to get the attention of health care providers, investors, and solutions vendors. Following are just a few examples of companies who are warming up to the idea of melting away loneliness to improve health:

  • Cigna, among other support services for their employees, offers a Caregiver Leave Program that provides up to four weeks of paid leave for employees caring for others including child bonding, caring for a seriously ill family member or qualifying military support
  • CareMore, an American health-care provider owned by Anthem, launched a dedicated scheme to reframe loneliness as a treatable medical condition. Their “Togetherness” program started with identifying the company’s members that self-reported as living alone and having poor to no support networks and calling them up. They also developed a loneliness scale which incorporates loneliness data into the patient’s electronic medical record and is accessible by dietitians, social workers and physicians.
  • One Caring Team calls and checks in on lonely elderly relatives for a monthly fee. The Silver Line, a similar (but free) helpline, is run by a British charity. Launched in 2013 it takes nearly 500,000 calls a year. Its staff in their Blackpool headquarters are supported by volunteers across the country in the Silver Friend service, a regular, pre-arranged call between a volunteer and an old person.
  • Help-Full is a community network, built around the notion of addressing loneliness in adults – and members of all ages – can post requests to give or receive services, connect with other to share, learn, and interact with. Tokens can be earned and exchanged for services.
  • The nonprofit, Evolve Foundation, has a fund called the Conscious Accelerator to combat loneliness, purposelessness, fear and anger spreading throughout the world through technology. Some of the organizations the fund is supporting include: Edovo is a tablet-based communication and education platform for incarcerated individuals, helping them improve their lives and unlock their potential and Parent Lab is an app to help parents connect and grow with their children.
  • Paro has a cuddly robotic seal that provides companionship to hospitalized patients.
  • Pepper is a human-ish robot made by a subsidiary of SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate, that can follow a person’s gaze and adapt its behavior to connect with them, assist them, and share knowledge with them.
  • Liminal VR teamed up with Medibank, an Australian insurance company, to build a virtual experience for lonely people who cannot leave their hospital beds.

Let’s make 2019 the year that loneliness is approached as the tip of the iceberg of poor health. It’s in plain view just waiting for more innovative health technologies and strategies to turn up the heat and lessen its impact on poor health!

HLTH: The Future of Health. Won’t you join us in reimaging and reinventing health – for all?

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following us on Twitter @HLTHevent.

HLTH Galvanizing Health Industry to Achieve Parity

We have a parity problem in the health industry!

Scanning the many health industry events, it’s clear that there’s a shortage of women C-level executives in keynote positions or in prime speaking roles on health conference agendas. In full transparency, the percent of executive women speakers at HLTH was just shy of 20 percent – in line with the industry averages, yet way below what any of us should be satisfied with!

In the run up to our inaugural HLTH event, which took place in May of 2018, the HLTH Content Team reached out to hundreds of disruptors to identify executives who were transforming the health industry through innovative science, technologies, strategies and investments. It didn’t take long before we recognized that we weren’t receiving an equal ratio of recommendations for female to male speakers. In fact, by the time we had secured our first 25 speakers, only four of them were women. How is it that, even though we had put a call out and a push on to shore up the parity disparity, we still had to over-index to close the gap?

It’s not that there aren’t amazing women in leadership roles across the health ecosystem: it’s that there aren’t an equal ratio of women in C-Suite or on Board of Director positions. While women hold 75 percent of health care jobs, only one-third of hospital executives are women. A 2016 McKinsey analysis finds that the share of women serving leadership roles falls precipitously the higher you go up the ladder. Among Fortune 500 health care firms, only 22 percent of executives and board members are women. There’s also been little change in the startup world, with women accounting for less than 12 percent of digital health CEOs and venture capital partners.

Anything less than gender parity in executive roles across the ecosystem of health is unacceptable! It’s time we buck up and shore up the gap in the percentage of women in executive roles across the ecosystem of health.

As an industry platform, HLTH strives to get women as speakers, but in the current environment, we have to over-index – and this needs to change. Achieving a 50/50 ratio of female to male speakers is a tenable goal, but putting women on stage just because they’re women is not an authentic strategy to achieve parity on podiums. However, putting more women in executive roles because they deserve to be there, empowering them with authority, and recognizing their contributions to advancing health, is.

If women are ever going to achieve parity in the health industry, the entire health community needs to be intentional in increasing awareness and demonstrating actions to provide women the same opportunities as men in “C”-ing us into the future of health!

To demonstrate our commitment to raising awareness for more women leaders in the health industry, HLTH is taking the ParityPledge™. Taking the ParityPledge™ is straightforward: companies simply commit their organization to interviewing and considering at least one qualified woman for every open role VP and higher, including the C-Suite and the Board.

HLTH’s goal is to get 1,000 health companies to take the ParityPledge™ before and at HLTH 2019. With that mass, hopefully, we can be one piece of the puzzle to create the change that the industry so desperately needs. #HLTHPledgesParity

The ParityPledge™ was developed by, specifically to narrow the gender inequality gap and increase C-Suite women executives across the health industry. advocates for women’s representation at the highest levels of business – in the C-Suite and on the Board of Directors. They do this by promoting companies that demonstrate their commitment to gender parity, raising awareness about underlying issues, and providing facts and research that show the value in equal representation.

If the “Triple Aim” seeks to improve patient experience, population health and decrease the cost of care, and the “Quadruple Aim” adds achieving joy, well-being and resilience among care teams, then let’s go for the “Quintuple Aim”, and strive to close the parity disparity gap in the health industry!  

Together, HLTH, – and all of you – can increase the percentage of women leaders throughout the ecosystem of health. Let’s not wait for someone else to make it so. Let’s bring about the change we want to see – starting now!

Take the ParityPledge™ and register for HLTH 2019 today.

HLTH brings together all stakeholders from across the health ecosystem – including health-focused associations – to learn from and collaborate with one another and to activate the “potential” and realize the “possible” from innovations that will positively improve health.

HLTH: The Future of Health. Won’t you join us in reimaging and reinventing health – for all?

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following us on Twitter @HLTHevent.

HLTH by Association Innovation

The following excerpts are taken from the descriptions, missions and value statements of some of the many associations championing health innovation:

… catalyst focused on enabling innovations that provide solutions to the most pressing issues facing our health care system…

… broad membership … to advance innovations that improve health, enhance the quality of health care, and achieve greater value for the money spent…

… bipartisan organization … bringing together a peer group … from all parts of the health care industry…

… network of executives who lead … mission is to advance … healthcare…

… advocacy-based organization … from diverse sectors of the health care industry come together … collective impact to advance … addressing complex problems in health…

… association … innovators, scientists, patients, providers and payers, promotes the understanding and adoption … to benefit patients and the health system…

If we remove the words like “nonpartisan”, “nonprofit”, “society”, “membership”, etc. from the “About Us” sections of leading health-focused association websites, it’s easy to see that their focus is much the same as the most disruptive, innovative and ambitious companies who are transforming the health industry. Health associations are advocating for causes, closing gaps, creating efficiencies, influencing policies, educating and certifying constituents, addressing disparities, and even investing in health innovation.

Collectively, health associations are made up of and represent, nearly every health business, executive and professional, dedicated to improving the health of U.S. citizens and the U.S. health system. With so much passion and so much possible, why do we still have so far to go to improve health, lower health costs, and provide satisfying health experiences? One word: “silos”.

The biggest barrier to transforming health is not our technology, nor our passion, purpose, or possible – it is our failure to collaborate across agendas, stakeholders, and causes. Yes, even the greatest aggregators of health potential – health associations – are (naturally) isolated to specifically focus and attend to their core purpose for being. Associations are at the very heart of innovations occurring across the health ecosystem, yet they are often invisible to the business of health; including the business of health investors and health startups, where much of the industry’s innovation is occurring.

There’s an opportunity to recognize and leverage the incredible work that health-focused associations are doing to reimagine and reshape the industry. Following are a few examples of associations who are focused on health innovations:

  • American Heart Association, together with Philips and UPMC, recently launched Cardeation Capital, a $30 million collaborative venture capital fund designed to spur healthcare innovation in heart disease and stroke care.
  • The Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE) and The Innovation Institute (TII) partnership gives SoPE the opportunity to work with TII’s team of Ph.D.’s, M.D.’s, and tech transfer staff to commercialize and take their ideas to market.
  • The American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation serves as an important knowledge and relationship hub, connecting health care organizations with innovators and resources representing a wide range of sectors from technology to design to engineering.
  • The Network for Excellence in Health Innovation’s (NEHI) research is aimed at identifying promising but underused technologies, assessing their impact on improving care and highlighting barriers to their adoption. NEHI’s research has focused on remote patient monitoring devices, mobile devices, tele-health, tele-ICUs, social media platforms and technologies for managing patients with chronic disease.

HLTH brings together all stakeholders from across the health ecosystem – including health-focused associations – to learn from and collaborate with one another and to activate the “potential” and realize the “possible” from innovations that will positively improve health.

HLTH: The Future of Healthcare. Won’t you join us in reimaging and reinventing health – for all?

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following us on Twitter @HLTHevent.

Pound- and Penny-Wise Health Spending

AHIP recently published a study that breaks down where every cent of our health dollar goes.  The study identifies the 13 areas that our health premiums (insurance) get allocated towards, including prescription drugs, office visits, hospital stays, administrative this and that, taxes, etc.

Examining the breakdown of where the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies go from every health dollar spent, brings to mind a quote from Andy Rooney, who once said:

“Computers may save time but they sure waste a lot of paper. About 98 percent of everything printed out by a computer is garbage that no one ever reads.”

Similarly, in healthcare, rather than deriving more value from our health spend, we bloat the industry with useless information, overly complicated processes, and excessive services and products. Isn’t it about time we question areas of (wasteful) spending that take place every minute of every day across the health ecosystem, yet deliver no real health value?

  • When was the last time any of us actually read (let alone understood) an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) letter, a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) consent form, a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) document, the teensy-weensy information on a prescription drug bottle, or the details behind what is and isn’t covered by your insurance plan?
  • How many prescription drugs go down the toilet or in the trash in physician offices, nursing facilities or consumers homes because doctors overprescribe, drug companies over-package, or patients under adhere?
  • How much productivity is lost by duplicative data collection and data entry, redundant and cumbersome systems, manual administrative processes, and long waits in the doctor’s office?
  • Why do consumers passively put up with unnecessary office visits, care procedures, and payment errors? And why do physicians put up with patients who never show up?
  • How many rooms, beds, office facilities, and storage areas go unused, have excess capacity, or are simply holdouts from past business models?
  • How many premium – or FSA or HRA – dollars never get allocated towards care because consumers don’t understand how to apply them?
  • How is it possible that, for a single health procedure, it takes weeks to calculate accurate costs, months for patients to sort out invoices from a compilation of health providers, and eons (sometimes for-never) for payments to get reconciled?
  • How many physicians resort to ordering more labs even when there is no clinical evidence substantiating the need for additional tests?

If we are ever going to reverse the growing cost of health care in the U.S., the foolish and wasteful spending on things that add little to no value to the health of individuals needs to be replaced by sage and sensible strategies that commit every single penny of every precious dollar towards delivering health value.

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” -Joe Biden

Following are some incredibly innovative – and disruptive – solutions making wise use of health dollars by getting more health bang for the health buck:

  • Sopris Health’s A.I. medical scribe app takes the inefficiencies out of the processes physicians and healthcare providers use to document patient appointments. Physicians can spend more time speaking with patients, as well as free up time to see more patients!
  • GoodRx helps consumers find the lowest prices and discounts by collecting and comparing prices for every FDA-approved prescription drug at more than 70,000 US pharmacies. Similarly, RxSavings Solutions brings simplicity, choice, and savings to consumer prescriptions by analyzing a patient’s claims, identifying possible therapies, and recommending optimal prescription drugs at the lowest prices available.
  • Lyft Concierge partners with health systems to ensure their patients won’t miss their health appointments due to lack of transportation. This increases physician efficiency, as well as limits negative health impacts related to delayed care.
  • Firsthand Technology products are getting patients off potentially harmful and unnecessary opioids by using VR to relieve pain, treat mental illness, and inspire healthy lifestyles.
  • Seventh Sense Biosystems is developing TAP, the world’s first push-button blood collection device that will enable diagnostic testing to be performed safely and painlessly by virtually anyone, anywhere, thus eliminating the need to get to a physician’s office or a lab test facility.
  • Oscar Health pretty much eliminates the need to print, read and try to comprehend your health plan. The Oscar app lets individuals find doctors, check labs and prescriptions, pull up a plan ID card, track deductibles, get help from a concierge, talk to a doctor and earn money for health behaviors – without ever leaving their phone!
  • OODA Health cuts the slack and slop out of medical billing and payment by streamlining the process with real-time adjudication, easy to understand invoicing, and immediate claims settlement.
  • Choosing Wisely is a campaign that seeks to eliminate unnecessary care by spurring conversations between doctors and patients on which care treatments, including lab tests, would be appropriate based upon the recommendations from national organizations representing medical specialists.

The U.S. health system is complex and opaque, making it difficult to determine how much health care products and services cost. Thankfully, there is a growing appetite to develop and deploy technologies and strategies that both caregivers and care recipients can bank on to make Pound- and Penny-Wise health spending decisions.  

HLTH: The Future of Healthcare. Won’t you join us in reimaging and reinventing health – for all?

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following us on Twitter @HLTHevent.

Upping the Ante on Improving Health

The inaugural HLTH event took place at the Aria in Las Vegas this past May and was attended by over 3,500 innovators, who came from across the entire ecosystem of health. Participants at HLTH 2018 included industry payers, providers, pharma, employers, policy-makers, investors and solutions providers, as well as non-industry tech companies, retailers, media and those motivated to develop a more expansive and inclusive approach to providing access to and support for health services.

Throughout the four day event, and in more than 140 sessions, over 375 provocative speakers shared their most forward and ambitious ideas and strategies during keynotes, track sessions, media announcements and startup pitches. There was no shortage of innovative solutions, strategies, or technologies demonstrating the industry’s passion for improving the current health system.

Reading through the post-event reviews and evaluations from media, speakers and attendees, one can hope that, in the coming year, the industry will see revolutionary changes occur across the ecosystem of health. But ingrained habits are hard to break, disruptive innovations are challenging to adopt, and change – let alone industrial-sized change – is a tough hand to win. Reinventing how we think about, manage and pay for health in the U.S. will require placing bigger bets with uncertain odds for success.

With escalating and unsustainable health costs on the foreseeable horizon, we increasingly need to let go of what’s not working and wager more resources on solutions, services and strategies that have the potential to result in substantial and lasting payoffs. If we are seriously serious about improving health for individuals, then we must take a fervent look at where we need to up the ante on not just improving, but revolutionizing our entire approach to our health services and health systems.

We need to up the ante on not just improving, but revolutionizing our entire approach to our health services and health systems.

Upping the Ante on Improving Health

While HLTH 2018 got us off to a great start in transforming health, let’s agree that there is still a way to go before we can count our winnings. We can begin celebrating our shared cache towards revolutionizing health when:

  • Our current health system begins to less and less resemble our past health system – and is more and more shaped around the economic, social, environmental, emotional, spiritual and physical health needs within our communities, businesses and personal lives.
  • We have a better grip on what actually works (and on what really doesn’t work) and we stop wasting money, time and resources on health care that is “justified” because that’s how the system works.
  • Health plans are actually “plans” for health. Plans that include a footprint of an individual’s current health situation, offer avenues for improving or avoiding health conditions, and communicate the associated health costs, along with the ways and means to cover these costs. Plans for health that are not designed, managed or reimbursed by one entity, but incorporate and combine “plan-ettes” aggregated from an individual’s employer, community, state or government, retailer(s), social network(s) – or even from their technologies.
  • Individuals are at the helm of defining and designing their health plans and can adjust according to short- and long-term needs.
  • Loyalty and customer satisfaction are the levers that those who provide for an individual’s health needs depend on to earn equitable rewards.
  • Waiting rooms are unconstrained by brick n mortar. Health opportunities are recognized and responded to wherever individuals live, work, recreate, gather and commune.
  • The foundations supporting health are more likely to come from outside the incumbent industry, diminishing the incumbent power players’ hold on access, cost, and profit.
  • The scope of health is more inclusive of solutions and strategies once considered quackery, but now proven to relieve stress, fight disease and increase engagement in healthy behaviors.

When future winnings in health shift from 150,000 billable ICD-10 codes… from buildings loaded with expensive and aging equipment… from one area of the health industry having a stacked deck of network access … to payoffs that result from more iterative and interoperable innovations that recognize, alleviate and manage health needs in a more holistic and symbiotic manner – then we can celebrate our shared jackpot!

After all, isn’t improved health for all what we’ve been betting on all along?

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

HLTH: The Future of Healthcare. Won’t you join us in reimaging and reinventing health – for all?

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following us on Twitter @HLTHevent.

A Personal Passion for Purpose Driven Health

We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about how innovative technologies are going to disrupt and ignite positive transformations throughout the health ecosystem. Admittedly, technology will play a major role in reshaping how information is shared, how real-time decisions can occur, how engagement can be more relevant and satisfactory, and how we keep well or get well more quickly. But without the spark of passion to ignite and implement solutions and services that technologies can enable, we simply have tools awaiting applications with no guarantee that they will make a positive change in the management of health.

Leading up to our inaugural launch of HLTH, we at HLTH had the opportunity to speak with thousands of individuals who wanted to be a part of something BIG: they wanted to be a part of the opportunity to finally reshape the scope and remake the systems of health.

We learned quickly, once we got past introductions and formalities of sharing why an event like HLTH was needed, that everyone who wanted to participate at HLTH – whether a potential speaker, sponsor, investor or startup – was purpose-driven to improve health.

If you step back and follow the career paths of the people who have chosen to be a part of the health ecosystem, you’ll find a great diversity in how – and more importantly why – they chose to focus on health. The how is pretty emblematic. Deciding to become a physician, a corporate executive, an entrepreneur or an investor is a defined role with pretty obvious steps along the way to get “there”. But for some, their “there” shifted from a progressive role to a purpose-driven passion.

We found over and over again, these individuals discovered a more compelling opportunity motivated by a powerful and personal health-related experience that they, or someone they knew, had encountered: a poor health condition; an escalation of health debt; a waste of time; insufficient resources in helping someone, or being someone, who needed care. The reasons were many, but the impetus was the same: we have to change our approach to health…we can do better!

At HLTH 2018, we experienced, for the first time ever, the entire ecosystem of health come together and put their passion and purpose before their title and role. Why does this matter? Because, unless we get to the heart of the matter where health hurts, destroys, breaks down and pulls apart, we won’t solve the real problems underlying the brokenness of health. Until we put people and pain before profits and gain, we will continue to apply inconsequential, futile and even absurd strategies, solutions and technologies that bloat the costs and miss the mark on what matters. There is both a moral and a financial argument for having a purpose- and passion-driven health organization. When it comes to health, it matters!

We welcome you to join the reimaging, redefining and reshaping of health.

Catch up on all things HLTH by subscribing to our YouTube channel. You can watch HLTH 2018 General Sessions, episodes in our new CEO interview series, HLTH Matters: Juicing with Gary, and so much more!

Juiced Up Conversations to Stimulate Health Innovation

The inaugural HLTH 2018 event galvanized the trailblazers from across the health ecosystem, who are stepping out of their healthcare bubbles and stepping up to champion health transformations that will reorient the industry towards more systemic and meaningful health strategies and solutions. By designing collaborative exchanges amongst action-oriented innovators, HLTH afforded the opportunity to broaden the scope of understanding, to reframe what constitutes “health” “care”, and to reformulate how to meet the health needs of consumers across their spectrum of “un” health to “well” health. Four days of HLTH, thousands of discussions and discoveries unleashed, and volumes of opportunities to make sweeping changes to revolutionize health. Why? Because “HLTH Matters”!

At every stage of life, our health matters. Our physical health, emotional and behavioral health, spiritual, social – and even financial health – it all matters. Health matters to us each personally. It matters to our work, our colleagues, companies and stakeholders. To our families, our neighbors and our friends. To our neighborhoods, our cities and our country. HLTH matters.

To aid in the momentum of the forces set in motion at the HLTH 2018 event, HLTH has created a weekly video series, HLTH Matters; Juicing with Gary, which will explore, discover and learn from today’s courageous, innovative and committed instigators of health advancements. The mission of HLTH Matters is to reveal the extraordinary personal stories of those who have the experience, knowledge, passion and solutions on how to improve health for all. Their stories will inspire others to join them in making it possible for every individual to live their best (and healthiest) lives. These harbingers of health share a well-mixed message of hope, encouragement and inspiration that appeals for improvements in the physical and financial well-being of individuals, families, companies, and communities struggling under the current, broken health industry. To set the stage for healthy conversations with our show’s guests, HLTH will be mixing up a ton of healthy juice recipes inspired and created by the personalities you’ll meet.

We invite you to listen in (and lean in) to our HLTH Matters video series – one conversation at a time. Why? Because HLTH Matters! Watch the first interview in the series, with Dr. Amy Abernethy of Flatiron Health, now on YouTube.

Investors Stand to Gain at HLTH


Why are so many investors shifting funds towards enterprising companies focused on new health solutions and services? Because inventive ways to support wellness and address illness are surfacing from every corner of the health ecosystem! Through new science, new business models and new parameters around what we define as health potential, come new opportunities to grow wealth through investing in health.


Much of what we know about staying healthy and treating health conditions is continuously – and  rapidly – evolving. Health intelligence is becoming more intelligent, more pervasive and increasingly leveraged for health potential. Digital solutions are translating, deploying, integrating and interpreting health intelligence and reorienting how we identify, prevent and treat disease.

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Expanding the Conversation: From Zip Code to “Health Code”

Today, the healthcare ecosystem centers the social determinants of health (SDOH) conversation around socioeconomic factors, such as an individual’s education, income, and occupation – factors that are often aligned with where someone lives. Because of this, some argue a person’s zip code is a better predictor of health than their genomics, biometric screen or medical history since much of an individual’s ability to access and receive quality care is primarily determined by their home address.

While geographic location is important, what if we looked beyond an individual’s zip code to create a more comprehensive map of their health conditions and opportunities? Let’s call this their “health code” – a holistic evaluation that incorporates an individual’s life choices and stressors, in addition to their traditional SDOH factors.

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Reality Check on Futuristic Health Tech


For the past decade, health tech companies have been flaunting virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, 3D Printing and other “cool stuff” with promises that these would improve care, lower costs and become the “gold standard” of healthcare technology. However, over-hyped capabilities and lack luster evidence of over-hyped technology’s impact on healthcare has left the health industry full of skepticism and doubt. It’s about time we conduct a reality check on some of this highly touted digital health technology and determine which are actually delivering on their promises.


Healthcare has a track record of trailing industries such as banking, travel and retail in the adoption of technology. However, there is proof that the visionary technology which promised to transform the industry is no longer on the horizon – it’s here and influencing everything from our decision-making at the point of care to the way consumers manage their health from home. Plus it has already enabled the industry to deliver quality care, create efficiencies and improve overall health outcomes.

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This is a (Genomic) Test


Not so long ago, ‘genetic testing’ only existed in the hollows of diagnostic laboratories. Results were shared with the clinicians, who relayed the outcome to the consumer. There was a process to be followed, leaving the consumer last to know.


Today, DNA analysis has become a powerful predictive, personalized, and accessible tool for everyone. And thanks to technological advancements, these tests are easily making their way into the hands of consumers, allowing people to become “masters of our own destiny.”

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Big Pharma Tackling Big Issue: The Opioid Crisis


According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., and the majority are caused by prescription painkillers. Prescription overdose deaths have jumped 242 percent over the span of 20 years. And there were enough opioids prescribed in 2015 alone to medicate every American around the clock for three weeks, according to the CDC.


The statistics paint a grim picture of the opioid crisis’ financial toll on the economy and emotional toll on families and loved ones. As the epidemic continues to shatter cities around the country, lawmakers have pushed to pinpoint vulnerabilities in the system and poke holes in the process to identify a solution. Despite being a national public health crisis, a solution remains elusive. And everyone is quick to point fingers, asking: “Who’s to blame?”

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The Chicken and Egg of Mental / Physical Health



Woody Allen has a famous quote: “My hypochondria is genetic.” While he gets a few laughs for his clever observation, what he really gets is credit for pointing out, long before the rest of us, that mental health impacts physical health and physical health impacts mental health. Case in point: we’ve seen Woody on a psychiatrist’s sofa as often as we have seen him on the physician’s table – dealing with the same set of symptoms!


It’s becoming very clear that poor mental health negatively impacts physical health. It’s been shown that depression can lead to an increased risk of conditions, including heart disease and cancer. As a result of the symbiotic relationship between mental and physical health, more health providers are being instructed to pay attention to, and evaluate, the psychological well-being of a patient when they are addressing their physical symptoms, and vice versa.


As consumers, we know this intrinsically – we go for a walk when feeling down, or seek out something to improve our mental state when physically ill.

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Employers Are Poised to Lead Health Transformation




Employers Are Poised to Lead Health Transformation

Next, to the U.S. government, employers are the largest buyer of healthcare products and services. That places a lot of responsibility – and affords a lot of opportunities – for employers to take the lead in helping shape the future of healthcare in America.


 The Diagnosis: The Current State of Employer Healthcare is “Not-So-Well”

The healthcare Industry is losing the fight against the rising cost of healthcare. Given the current dysfunction in the system, employers are taking matters into their own hands and redefining “health” and “care” by creating benefits that embrace the notion that good health is more than healing the sick or managing chronic conditions. Good health goes beyond physical health and takes into account the whole person. An employee could be “not-so-well” due to financial pressures, relationship conflicts, work/life pressures or an aversion to seeking care. Through this lens, the path to improving employer health benefits lies in reframing the concept of health to truly meet the needs of employees.

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Back to the Future – CVS + AETNA

CVS’s acquisition of Aetna is a back to the future move.  Decades ago, before the acronym PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Management), insurers contracted with individual pharmacies and offered members access to them at discounted rates. In so, the benefits (medical, dental, behavioral, and pharmacy) were packaged. If you bought Aetna products, you automatically received Aetna’s pharmacy product.

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Alexa, Will You Support Me as I Grow Golder?

Sixty-one percent of older adults prefer to age in their own home with a caregiver, while, at the same time, the number of caregivers who are long-distance is expected to double by 2020. Advancements in health technology have the potential to assist seniors at home and delay assisted living, while providing caregivers peace of mind knowing that their loved ones have the resources to live a high quality life. However, while technology is evolving, the dialogue still needs to amp up on how to leverage technology to support seniors and improve access.


Innovative tech companies are connecting seniors to optimal care in their homes and to social connections outside their homes, creating companions to support medication and activity adherence, and even seamlessly sensing motion through smart clothing.  Following are some great examples of how technology can rearchitect the in-home aging experience.

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From Growing Older to Growing Golder – Let’s Change the Conversation on Aging Well in America

Conversations around aging in America are weighed down by imposing statistics about the number of people turning 65 each day and the impacts on our health system and caregivers. The daunting implications of these statistics are exasperated by approaches that have, to date, fallen short in addressing the health needs of this fast-growing population.

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Outside In: How the Fringes of Health are Challenging the Incumbent Mindset

The edges of the health ecosystem are teeming with companies, individuals and innovations that have the potential to disrupt traditional players within the healthcare industry. New entities are plotting to enter the health landscape for a variety of reasons, including:

  • A desire to expand their value proposition and relationship with consumers into the realm of “health”
  • A negative experience with their own health
  • A vision for how disruptive technologies, transformative medicines or innovative drug therapies can be newly applied to improve health for others

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The Justification for Innovative Transformation in U.S. Healthcare

The current state of U.S healthcare, consumed by uncertain policies, emerging technologies and new payment models, has stakeholders feeling disorganized and destabilized. Real and perceived barriers to healthcare transformation impede stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem from aligning efforts to drive innovation that will create impactful change.

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Precision Health Depends on Precision Engagement

Precision health has dramatically shifted care – from general options to treatments tailored to the exact manner, degree, and specificity of an individual’s needs. Understandably, there has been much discussion about this transformation, but most of it focuses on the medical side – genomic sequencing, clinical trials, and personalized cancer treatments. And while these clinical advances have incredible promise, they can’t deliver without an equally transformational effort: precision engagement. Precision health makes treatments as unique as their recipients. Precision engagement should do the same for patient interactions – using individuals’ unique environmental factors, preferences, and habits to drive understanding and adoption of a recommended precision health approach. Only then will the result be precise and economical care. [1]

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Announcing My New Venture: HLTH


I’m excited to announce my new venture—HLTH—a new, large-scale industry event that is creating a much-needed dialogue focused on disruptive innovation occurring across the ecosystem in order to lower costs, improve quality of care and increase customer satisfaction. HLTH will be held May 6-9, 2018 at the Aria in Las Vegas.

Our ultimate mission is to be a catalyst to ignite the transformations necessary to improve healthcare. The first step to improving our healthcare industry is to imagine what it would look like for every consumer to have the access, information, tools and support that would enable them to optimize their health status throughout their entire lifespan.  In that ideal scenario, we would align resources and technologies according to the varying ways that consumers seek out health information and utilize health services.  Currently, however, the methods for where, how and when consumers get their health needs met are all in flux, undergoing rapid change.  It is this insatiable quest to improve our current system that necessitates we take the second step, which is to modernize our administrative and operational infrastructure.

HLTH will break down existing silos by creating a forum where Provider, Payer, Employer, Pharma, Government and Startup organizations can learn about the latest advancements in healthcare that have the potential to improve outcomes, decrease costs, and reimagine our industry.  By helping reshape the dialogue, HLTH serves as a catalyst for the development of the healthcare industry during a period of fundamental change.

Why Healthcare?

I have always been fascinated in how industries need to shift in times of massive disruption and how companies need to adapt in order to stay alive. That is right where healthcare is today. I have been a tech entrepreneur for nearly two decades and have built companies that helped transform financial services into the digital age, including TxVia which was acquired by Google in 2012.  I was part of the team that launched Google Wallet and served as Head of Global BD for Payments and Wallet during those incredibly thrilling, early days as the financial services industry was going through profound changes.  During every earnings call at the major banks, CEOs were being asked whether Google was going to disintermediate their business.  There was lots of fear and confusion in the industry at large around products like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and other new technologies transforming the industry such as AI, Machine Learning, Big Data and Mobile.  Given all the shifts in the market there needed to be a forum where senior leaders across the ecosystem could come together in order to move their business forward in this new age.  

The most recent industry building ventures I co-founded are Money20/20 and ShopTalk – both of which became critical to the ecosystems they served by helping companies navigate their paths forward and empowering people to work together in new ways during times of complex changes.

Healthcare needs its own forum. HLTH is my third industry-building initiative designed from the ground up around the technologies and trends that are completely reshaping how the ‘hard’ conversations take place and how actionable solutions are shared. Key to our approach is the inclusion of representatives from across the healthcare continuum that are providing tech-enabled services to drive efficiencies and better health outcomes. In attendance will be key players, including providers, employers, policy makers, disruptive startups, established vendors, and leading investors. None of the companies—whether startups or established players—bringing these disruptive innovations to market have achieved their full potential. But the implications of their business models and the relentlessness of their teams mean that they will increasingly define the future of healthcare.

I founded HLTH with Anil Aggarwal to be a multi-year journey for everyone in healthcare, to track and talk about disruptive innovation, starting with the market as it exists today. Our premise is simple: we can envision much of what the future will be by focusing on the innovators of today and following defining developments over time. We used the same strategy with Money20/20 for the evolution of payments and financial services, and with ShopTalk for the evolution of digital commerce. Both Money20/20 and ShopTalk became the world’s most important and influential events, in their respective industries. We expect the same degree of success for HLTH.

Like many startups, we’ve raised $5MM in venture capital, built an incredible team that includes former Gartner Healthcare Analyst, Constance Sjoquist, and are focused everyday on building a business that serves as a catalyst for the industry – with the ultimate goal of driving cost reductions across the healthcare ecosystem, and at the same time improving quality of care. We will uncover all of the technologies, trends and companies in healthcare – as well as those from other verticals seeking to enter healthcare – with an intellectual rigor that allows us to piece the industry together and the entire ecosystem to better understand disruptive innovations and their widespread implications.

I’m thrilled to be part of a team that has not only deep experience in all key areas but also an unmatched passion to deliver something extraordinarily valuable to the industry. We’ve been working hard in stealth for many months with an incredible external support infrastructure that’s allowed us to not only articulate an entirely new thesis for healthcare, but also confirm dozens of CEOs as speakers and put us on the path to creating a unique experience.

The inaugural HLTH event will be held May 6-9, 2018 at the Aria in Las Vegas with more than 2,000 attendees and hundreds of CEOs. Given how quickly innovation catches on, we expect HLTH to take center stage and become a stimulus for the development and growth of the ecosystem from the very first event. We welcome you to join the HLTH journey as attendees, speakers, sponsors and/or exhibitors.

Jonathan Weiner

follow us @HLTHevent


HLTH is a senior-level, large-scale, industry event that is creating a much needed dialogue focused on disruptive innovation across the health ecosystem.

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