Speakers discussed opportunities and challenges facing the healthcare system as it pivots from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the expansion of patient access, fostering health equity and applying technology to the process. Below are five key takeaways from the five morning sessions.
1. Healthcare needs to fully embrace tenets of consumerism. Keynote speaker Stephen Klasko, MD, who serves as executive-in-residence at General Catalyst, noted how the pandemic has permanently altered consumer expectations of healthcare experiences.
While most industries (and notably banking) have altered longstanding operations to be more consumer-friendly, he believes healthcare still has a ways to go.
Klasko added that increased adoption of telehealth and mental health apps are promising developments, but that hospitals, payers and pharma companies still have much to learn from retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
2. Organizations should co-develop and partner rather than buying solutions. Klasko referred to his nearly 10 years as CEO of Jefferson Health for nearly a decade and the changes the provider organization effected during it. Rather than focusing on the mission as a hospital, Klasko evolved the organization into a more comprehensive provider of healthcare services — and a key stakeholder in the Philadelphia community.
To that end, Klasko didn’t let Jefferson spread itself too thin. When it came to creating initiatives that would make a difference in the lives of patients, especially those living in vulnerable parts of the city, he pushed Jefferson to co-develop solutions with interested partners, rather than simply purchasing the latest technology.
3. Marketers have opportunities to leverage the metaverse. Meta head of health Jenny Streets and Subvrsive CEO Anthony Burke highlighted the growing interest in the metaverse and augmented reality products. Streets stressed that healthcare marketers should consider building their metaverse strategies incrementally and base their Web 3.0 approach on the successes of the current Web 2.0. She noted that some organizations, notably Pfizer and Merck, have already made key inroads in AR as part of their efforts to reach younger consumers.
Burke, on the other hand, believes that the metaverse is becoming more accessible for consumers, which gives brands an opportunity to connect the full digital footprint. Like Streets, he recommended a crawl-walk-run approach, but urged marketers to prioritize authenticity.
Toward the end of their session, Streets and Burke offered a joint prediction that interest in AR and the metaverse would result in joint-spatial web pieces, bringing together what Warby Parker has done with its glasses products and fitness wearables.
4. Technology can (and should) be leveraged to reach more patients and foster health equity. After the burden experienced by vulnerable communities — and especially patients of color — during the pandemic, healthcare leaders have the opportunities to use technology to expand care access and foster better health equity. Faye McCray, editor in chief of Psych Central, said it’s important to support community efforts to provide better mental health support and meet people on the level, especially those who have long struggled to have reliable access to care.
Phreesia chief clinical officer Hilary Hatch agreed, adding that healthcare marketers are very capable of understanding the personas of patients they’re targeting and should use technology and data to guide patient journeys.
Craig DeLarge, a digital healthcare strategist and mental health advocate at The Digital Mental Health Project, said the industry needs to focus on creating a society that utilizes consumer technology products to improve overall digital health literacy and make it feel like second nature for consumers.
Similarly, MyHealthTeam CEO Eric Peacock encouraged attendees to “fall in love with the problem, not the product.” To that point, he said patient engagement is at the core of most successes and urged leaders to listen with empathy, identify a problem, provide a solution and communicate in a patient’s language.
5. EHR and point-of-care communications can evolve to benefit both patients and providers. The pandemic expanded technological innovations and continued existing trends, which means there remains much room for improvement in EHRs. ConnectiveRx leaders emphasized that patients and providers want digital support along the medication journey.