The HLTH 2022 conference took place over four days in Las Vegas, featuring dynamic conversations among industry leaders about evolving consumer expectations and digital health capabilities. 

As the sector has seen more interest among patients in replicating the consumer experience seen in other industries, most notably retail, organizations have had to respond in kind.

For example, with a growing desire for wellness services and products, more consumer health brands have risen to the occasion by adapting to modern trends. While many of these organizations have been legacy players in the space, new entrants aren’t afraid to rock the boat either. 

The same goes for the conversation around data, which was mentioned in several speaker sessions and panels. Due to events that have occurred over the past few years, including several high-profile data breaches and scandals, consumers are more focused on ensuring their data privacy than ever before. That goes double for patient health information, which is among the most sensitive and private data an organization can have.

Going forward, healthcare companies and their leaders know they have to focus their operations on strategies derived from their data infrastructure while also protecting it from potential bad actors that could compromise their trust with consumers.

The conference also highlighted the growing importance of behavioral health and underscored trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many leaders said that interest in mental health skyrocketed among the general population as millions of people dealt with the psychological impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent three years of the outbreak.

While telehealth services helped expand access in the early years of the pandemic, what leaders are faced with now is a behavioral health crisis with numerous contributing factors. These include a lack of available psychologists, language and cultural barriers for patients of color and cost concerns.

What needs to happen next, according to many prominent stakeholders, is a broader strategy focused on addressing key accessibility issues for patients, listening to their concerns and responding in kind with long-term solutions.

A final discussion point that was widespread at HLTH 2022 was health equity and the accountability behind organizations pledging to improve on the diversity, equity and inclusion front. 

COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated the longstanding racial health disparities that have plagued the American healthcare system. Now, many leaders see an opportunity to foster a future that doesn’t revert to the status quo but rather establishes a new system that is more equitable and considerate of the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable patients.

This is not to say it’s an easy track to pursue or one that comes as the result of a silver-bullet, but many leaders said there needs to be more reflection and subsequent action to make necessary changes for the future.