You’ve probably seen the images of lots of people with big smiles, thumbs up on social media. Those are the participants at HealthXL Interactive. We thought getting a group of people together on Zoom and running a few meetings is going to be easy breezy. But we realized over 2 months of long hours and many phone calls that this isn’t the case, especially when you want to create the 2.0 of a virtual meeting experience. We brought together about 150 senior leaders across various sectors in healthcare, ran 27 roundtables over 4 hours across 4 themes, made several introductions, and shared a pint together as well!
3 things we learnt:
- Consumers will drive new reimbursement models
- The shift to virtual care benefits patients the most - are incentives not aligned enough for widespread use?
- New business models in digital health will prove to be both cost centers and revenue centers in the years to come
The day kicked off with a fireside chat. Lisa Suennen asked Glen Tullman, Executive Chairman of Livongo, the A-Z of the Teladoc-Livongo merger, including who gets dibs on what to name it, and what this means for virtual care delivery from here on. With non-stop questions from the audience on which international markets they intend to go after, what share of the healthcare delivery market they will own in 2021, how they made this deal work in the middle of a pandemic, it was a gripping 30mins. You can watch a short version of Glen and Lisa's talk here.
My Telemedicine and Virtual Care Delivery Roundtable by Sarah
Following on from Glen's session the conversation naturally flowed into the greatest barriers to the adoption of telemedicine and virtual care, focusing on privacy and integration into clinical workflows as key concerns. Also, the equity of access to such tools was deliberated at length. Language was also called out as a barrier; even amongst Spanish speaking populations there is huge variability in language which must be taken into account. Financial access was discussed in depth - perhaps the patient can afford the smartphone, but who then pays for the data plan?
There are lots of additional costs which need to be taken into consideration in order to include all populations. The resounding conclusion from the session was that if customers adopt the technology, reimbursements will follow. Consumer adoption is the key to success of telemedicine and virtual care delivery, and pushing this initiative must come from all stakeholders.
My Digital Therapeutics Roundtable by Laura
The second session of the day focused on DTx with representation including transformation lead from the NHS, heads of innovation and product management from various top pharma companies, and other individuals with strong backgrounds in business development, venture funding and strategy. The variety of opinions and diverse backgrounds brought a host of refreshing perspectives to the discussion.
- Business Models: Although partnerships have proven to be a successful way for DTx to enter the market, particularly with pharma companies, the group agreed that Direct to Consumer is the preferred method of entry. If you can prove to the consumer that the product is worth using, this will lead to success. In saying that, the group still believed that clinician buy-in is extremely important to encourage trust in the product. Simply put, if DTx becomes embedded in our healthcare models, the potential is endless.
- Reimbursement and regulation – always hot topics! The main question here was how can DTx compete with drugs which have robust clinical trials and evidence to back them? Without this evidence, reimbursement simply isn’t an option. The consensus from the group brings us back to our initial point – we need buy-in from the consumer to generate traction. This will encourage interest from investors and create opportunities to extend clinical trials, putting the therapeutic in a better position for reimbursement. It’s a chicken and egg conversation of which comes first – regulation or buy-in?
- The barriers to entry in this market are still vast. A poll put to the group showed that reimbursement was at the forefront of these barriers. However, the DTx industry is quickly growing and shows extremely high potential for the future of virtual healthcare, something which COVID-19 has already put on the fast track.
My Patient Engagement and Support Roundtable by Kate
The session opened with an interesting discussion on the role of social media plays in enhancing patient engagement. Attendees agreed that social media will be the entry point for patient support in the future but had reservations, primarily based on privacy requirements and usability by the elder populations. Barriers to the adoption of virtual care by patients was another hot topic stimulating a variety of input and opinion!. Lack or limited engagement of HCPs with patients was regarded as the primary barrier to digital activation and this led to a discussion surrounding the importance of validation studies and regulation with regard to HCP onboarding.
On a more future gazing perspective, the session led towards a discussion surrounding the novel business models that are anticipated to emerge in the area.
My Payer Adoption of Digital Health Solutions Roundtable by Tess
The last session of the day – Digital Health Maturity of US Payers discussed our Q2 Report based on the US payers to assess their digital health maturity. A great group of individuals, from across health systems, health tech, pharma and US insurance sectors, we opened the session pondering whether payers are good partners. While perhaps not the nimblest partners (especially those larger organizations), the current public health emergency appears to be forcing the hand of both payers and health systems alike. While an automatic recourse to digital may be the obvious solution, many payers are diversifying their partnerships to offer their members remote and more holistic support. In a poll that we put to the group, the majority of participants felt that payers in fact were investing and partnering more actively as a result of COVID-19. Interestingly, (in response to a second poll question) the majority also felt that the end-all and be-all of such investments was not monetization. This result was unsurprising at a time where (remote) access to care has become paramount and (in-person) healthcare utilization has been at an all-time low. Organic or not, the greater digitization of healthcare will lead laggards in the industry to re-evaluate and prioritize their digital health strategies. While the discussion was predominantly focused on the US healthcare system, the discussion also benefited from participants eager to share a contrasting European perspective. The group also discussed the recent proposal on Medicare Coverage of Innovative Technology (MCIT), for technologies receiving breakthrough device designation from the FDA. While it was too early to speculate on how and whether commercial payers would follow suit, this latest proposal was nonetheless interpreted as a positive signal for the industry. All in all, a stimulating and well-balanced conversation among individuals with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
The Interactive Bloc Party by Niamh
Time to have fun: We wrapped up HealthXL Interactive with our networking session with DJ Ritesh Patel playing some 60’s soul music over a pint of the famous black stuff. The majority of the attendees received a care package where we sent a taste of Ireland; a can of Guinness, an engraved pint glass and some snacks by The Good Snack Company. During this 30 minute session attendees requested to be put in breakout sessions to speak directly with each other and a chance to exchange details. It was amazing the number of requests we received and was great to facilitate. We made many intros, there were emails shared, dinners planned and we even chatted about what’s hot on Netflix at the moment. This felt like a real life event experience and was a brilliant way to unwind and wrap up the event.