This content is brought to you in partnership with HLTH.
Last week, more than 6,000 attendees — from executives, investors and startups to policymakers, pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers — gathered at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for HLTH, the largest health innovation conference in the United States.
HLTH 2019 offered plenty of opportunities to hear from industry leaders, such as investor Mark Cuban, Google Health head David Feinberg and 23andMe founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki. It also served as the launch for several innovative health technologies.
There was also a noticeable focus on systemic change for a healthcare system often criticized as “broken,” in terms of policy, leadership and care strategies.
Here are a few of Karma’s key takeaways from HLTH 2019:
Fixing healthcare is about a lot more than injecting it with technology.
A recurring theme of HLTH 2019 was that actual change in healthcare is going to require leaders to get into the weeds of policy and underlying social determinants, instead of solely depending on technology for innovation.
“There’s a lot of great places where technology is being implemented. Personalized medicine. AI. Data,” investor Mark Cuban said in conversation with Andy Slavitt, founder of United States of Care. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t places where we can start digging in deeper.”
“Healthcare’s complex, and I think it deserves more than a bumper sticker debate.”
Much of the discussion at HLTH focused on healthcare’s place in the U.S. political conversation. Cuban, who has invested in a number of healthcare startups and is working on his own coverage plan, said he sees politicians addressing issues from a coverage and payment level, but ignoring solutions that actually better the nation’s health.
Health insurers themselves were also keen on fixing healthcare’s issues on a systemic level.
“Healthcare’s complex, and I think it deserves more than a bumper sticker debate,” Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, said in a general session. “What I would hope is that we get out of the bumper sticker debates and we actually start having an in-depth conversation about how we’re going to get this system transformed.”
The healthcare industry needs to better prioritize women in leadership.
Advancement of women was a clear focus at this year’s conference.
For the first time, HLTH hosted a dedicated track focused on addressing issues faced by women in the industry.
Aside from curated content and networking opportunities, WOMEN at HLTH featured calls to action for industry stakeholders, including the ParityPledge, a commitment to interview at least one qualified woman for every open role, and Break into the Boardroom, a program that strategically matches female executives with companies looking to add talent to their boards.
On the mainstage, Helen Leis, a partner at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, debuted research developed in partnership with HLTH on the state of female leadership in healthcare.
The study found that while women make up 80% of household healthcare decisions and represent 65% of the industry’s workforce, they are still dramatically underrepresented in leadership positions. In fact, only 13% of all CEOs in the healthcare industry are women.
“The company with more women executives performs better. Higher returns. Improved decision-making. The list goes on,” Leis said. “But in healthcare, the case for women’s leadership is even stronger.”
Leis suggested that companies take three steps to close the leadership gap. She urged attendees to be clear in what kind of person they are looking to fill an open position, to focus on mentorship and advancement of women in their organizations, and to invest in “the heartbeat of healthcare” that is women.
HLTH is a strategic partner of Karma.