MM+M’s Jack O’Brien and Lecia Bushak recap highlights from this week’s HLTH conference. Much like its host city, the event has become a pastiche, ranging from an update on the NIH’s innovation budget, to a debate about whether employers should cover GLP-1 drugs, to cameos by celebs like Howie Mandel and Chelsea Clinton discussing other health-related topics. Music by Sixième Son.

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Hey, it’s Mark thousands of people thrown to the desert this week for the annual Health conference in Las Vegas. The Show is exploded in size. The last two years and is attracted industry-wide attention that Rivals more established conferences. Unlike some other industry events Health content didn’t venture too deeply into the weeds as glamor and Showmanship seemed equally juxtaposed with ambitious startups angling for attention. Nevertheless speakers tackled some heady Health topics on this week’s podcast. We’ll dive into observations from on and off the convention hall floor with our own Jack O’Brien, digital editor and Lecia Bushak, senior reporter.

Hey, it’s Marc, editor-at-large and welcome to the mmm podcast medical marketing media show about Healthcare marketing writ large.

Some speaking with Jack O’Brien unless you bouchek live from this week’s Health conference in Las Vegas Jack. You were recording podcasts and attending sessions last year. We’re also roaming the conference floor as well as hosting an mmm event and you both filed stories before we jump into specific Trends. I just wanted to get your overall quick takes. What’s the mood been like last?

I’ll throw out to you since it was your first Health conference.

Yeah. This is my first time in Las Vegas as well in addition to my first time at the health conference. And so for me my initial takeaways was just how overwhelming everything was like just the city of Vegas the the sensory overload the sort of like Maisy aspects of a lot of the hotels and everything here, but the conference itself was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which I believe is it’s biggest location so far because it has been growing since it started about five years ago from what I understand. They were over 10,000 people here this year, which was a rise from like this 9,000 I believe.

Last year, so definitely enormous probably the biggest Health conference. I’d ever been to really cool to see so yeah definitely kind of an exciting exciting first time there

great. Yeah. It’s really becoming the CES for health.


yeah, I’ll pick you back off of what Les should talk about. This is my second held conference and definitely bigger than last year. It was held at the Venetian last year and you definitely tell there were more people here more boost more panels all that sort of stuff but it was a very invigorating conversation. I think last year was a little bit of uncertainty in the market just given the way that we were still dealing with covid and there was the great resignation. I think this year there was a lot of different trends that emerge that had leaders talking. We had a great panel that we hosted the head first into Health Equity panel, which really focused on issues around de and I Health Equity social determines of Health which got a really good response. So nothing nothing but good things to report from here got to go see Fat Joe and Ashanti last night at industry events our industry night. So that was a lot of fun too. It’s always a great time being in Vegas. I can’t say anything bad about this city.

I’m glad the conference organizers are taking care of the attendees with some good industry events. That’s good to hear.


and bless you’ve been reading your dispatches which have been Shock full of

One of the ones I know you wanted to just discuss was the presence of a number of tiktok patient influencers there and the you know rise of misinformation and how they may be contributing to that and what doctors had to say about that, right?

Yes. So there was a panel on Monday that had a few Healthcare influencers there in person and it’s always kind of fun, you know, if you’re covering tiktok a lot like I do to see these people in person and get the chance to talk to them in person rather than just, you know, see their tiktok videos.

But I was able to speak with Austin Lee Chang who is a gastroenterologist and he is also the chief medical officer at Medtronic and he’s a pretty big tiktok influencer. He has over 500,000 followers on tiktok. So he spoke at this panel basically talking about his journey of becoming an influencer as a physician the work that he puts into really thoughtfully crafting his videos that they make the right impact and I spoke with him afterwards and he really honed in on something that I thought was interesting which is that he’s hoping that doctors and Med students will be trained at a sort of academic level and how to use social media in the future. He thinks that as more professional, you know, like hcps and doctors get on tiktok in social media platforms and become better at communicating to patients and the general audience through these platforms the better it will be to sort of

People sort through the inaccurate health information that’s on these platforms. So that was an interesting takeaway.

Yeah, like the notion of you know doctors like Austin Lee Chang who are also very familiar with interfacing with industry. And in his case. He works for the one of the biggest med tech companies in the world can serving in that and that capacity as helping, you know sift through what’s what’s real and what’s not you also heard an update on arpa age, which is the government’s new kind of innovation lab. What would you find out about that unless you

yes, so

The deputy director of arpa H Susan collar maneros was present and she was on a panel with former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Susan basically was talking a little bit about what our pH is planning on doing with the 2.5 billion dollars. It’s been allotted since I think a lot of people have been wondering. This is a new this is a new division of NIH. Is it going to be similar to DARPA or you know, what’s gonna be doing with this money and she basically said that you know, they’re they’re going to be focusing on supporting businesses and startups that have a an idea for a scientific breakthrough. There’s no particular therapeutic area that they’re focusing on they’re kind of taking a broad range of it and she was actually calling for innovators present at the conference this week to basically get in touch with our age and start connecting and hoping to kind of

Get that pipeline of new businesses going and so she noted we’re going to go out and recruit Innovative folks many of them may be in this room who have a burning desire to address a problem a challenge an organ transplantation or provider reimbursement or anything else to improve Healthcare outcomes.

We want to bring in those technical experts who are ready to Champion breaking through on the status quo and put those programs under our very agile and straightforward process. And I also got the chance to speak with Jared Adams who is the head of communications at arpa h a little later and that is going to be one of our podcast interviews that’ll publish later in the next few weeks. So definitely keep an eye out for that

great and not to be undone the FDA. Well, you are away issued a announcement today this afternoon Wednesday afternoon to be specific saying that David established a new advisory committee on digital Health Technologies that will help the FDA explore scientific and technical issues related to such tools that digital Health Technologies, or excuse me, such digital Health Technologies as artificial intelligence and machine learning augmented reality virtual reality DTX or digital Therapeutics wearables remote patient monitoring.

And software and so this committee is going to consist of a core of nine voting members including a chair and this is designed to you know, help facilitate the you know, regulatory clearance of technologies that can help as Jeffrey schuren director of FDA Center for devices in rheological health, put it Advanced Health Equity by expanding access. So interesting, you know Announcement by another government agency there, you know mention that there were a number of other celebrities present last year, right and Howie Mandel talking about his OCD and Chelsea Clinton talking about an interesting aspect of Health, right?

Yeah. Chelsea Clinton had one of the last panels on Tuesday afternoon. She was one of the several celebrities as you mentioned Mark that Health brings in to sort of add to the showy Affair of health and she was talking about

Jevity, but from an interesting angle, you know it is this conference about Innovation, but she instead focused on how investing in children and basically even before kids are born like during pregnancy addressing things like maternal mortality parent resources, the pediatrician shortage nutritional food. Those kinds of things are going to contribute a lot more to longevity the necessarily, you know, cutting-edge research or technology. That’s that’s happening more on the Innovation side.

So that was really something that she was hammering home during her talk.

Her ultimate point was that we have failed consistently to prioritize our kids noting that maternal mortality rates have rised suicide among kids has also risen and the rate of kids being killed by Firearms has risen and she noted that we know that we’re not doing enough to support our caregiving infrastructure or to support parents to have the resources to care for their children and at the end of her talk when asked you know, if she had any radical ideas of how to address some of these things she said immediately to invest in women Founders. So that was some of the main main takeaways from from Chelsea’s talk

very interesting and Jack I wanted to also bring you in here because you had some great conversations in the podcast booth on things that generative Ai and another digital Health Technologies. Give us some highlights there.

Yeah. It was really interesting. We had in total 15 podcast guests, which will be coming out over the next few weeks. Had a lot of great conversations.

With people from you know Blue Chip healthcare companies. We spoke with the clinic Chief clinical trials officer at Walgreens spoke with Executives from Vive Healthcare and GSK but also companies that are doing a lot of different interesting stuff around destigmatizing mental health and expanding services for patients. So it was really interesting generative AI continues to be a really big Focus for you know, Pharma companies and Healthcare brands of All Sorts including different Marketing Executives. I spoke with I think they all kind of see it as an opportunity to really expand the work that they’re doing and kind of supercharge operations, but with an idea that humans are gonna be there to kind of audit any results that come through, you know for a plagiarism purposes for accuracy and things of that nature. So that was top of mind, you know, certainly a bunch of conversation around glp ones and weight loss drugs. I spoke with the executive from Weight Watchers who announced a partnership with sequence as part of their new weight loss prescription drug program that they’re gonna be.

Rolling out in these next few months. So a lot of interesting conversations really look forward to our listeners being able to get a glimpse of what life is like here at health. And as I said earlier, it just continues to get bigger. I mean just bigger names all the time. I was walking by on the conference floor and just kind of look back. I was like, oh, that’s Alex Azar. That’s the former HHS secretary and you know, the fact that Nick Jonas was here earlier in the night, you know taking a break from the the concert tour life to be able to be around the Healthcare Community was truly something else. So it’s always a lot of fun we get to come out here and get to see, you know, all the different conversations taking place and all the different ideas. They get thrown around and insights that people are willing to share.

Yeah. I think Weight Watchers they bought sequence beginning of this year and you know, making a move that was pretty controversial at the time into you know, prescribing, you know, glp ones as they saw their business model really impacted by the popularity of medications.

Was epic and munjaro and then wegovia, of course, so that that’s really fascinating and lesser. You mentioned that there was a session also on the stage about employer coverage for glp ones which has been kind of an ongoing topic as well. What was the update there?

Yeah, I would say this was one of the most interesting panels actually sat in on on you know at Health there was definitely quite a bit of tension around this issue. So this panel featured Road chief medical officer Melinda Barnes verta Health Chief people officer Lucia Guillory and omada health president whale as well as Andreas Ming, who is the senior managing director of private Equity from Blackstone.

So this panel focused on whether employers should cover glp ones for their employees moving forward given the fact there’s been such an increase in demand for these drugs. So many people want to get on them. They’re all extremely expensive. So they basically started out the panel Andreas May said, you know, if companies continue to

Cover glp ones for their employees given the rising demand and you know, the high prices they will basically these companies will go out of business eventually his quote. I believe was the economic reality is that companies have to make hard decisions companies will be put out of business. They literally won’t be able to do anything other than pay for glp ones. You know, Melinda Barnes has sort of a counter argument to that she

Came from it more from the patient perspective and argued that I believe she said exactly if you’re a patient looking at this panel, the point of view is of employers looking at books or looking at the finances, but nobody is asking what patients are actually saying and she said, you know, I’m not advocating that everyone writes a prescription for GOP ones, but it should be a conversation between a patient a physician and a patient and not a conversation in a boardroom about whether this medication should be covered. So I feel you know, an argument was almost about to break out on stage during this panel and a lot of the concerns that we’re kind of going around is that the drugs do work but the long-term adherence to them isn’t necessarily I guess guaranteed and they’re saying that you know, the data shows that wants people get off the drugs a lot of them and getting the weight back so, you know, the arguments around sort of like should employers cover this like, what’s what are the financial implications of that when?

It comes down to the patients as well. So pretty interesting panel.

It sounds like it indeed. Well, you know, it reminds me a lot of the conversation around Alzheimer’s drugs, you know, we’re really any high-priced drug that affects a large group of patients in terms of sustainability of the healthcare system in the face of you know, a pretty large expense if it’s going to be taken up by either, you know public or private payers.

Well celebrities, you know fascinating on stage talks and you know, just all around sounds like health is just kind of kick things up a notch, you know this year, but you two are our VIPs. So thank you so much for for you know giving us your observations from Las Vegas and we hope you have a safe trip home. We’ll see you back in New York City later this week.

I look forward to going back to the east coast and I look forward to being back in studio with both you next week for a full episode. So he’ll be a treat for our audience.

Sounds great.

That’s it for this week. The mmm podcast is produced by Bill Fitzpatrick Gordon failure, lesabusak and Jack O’Brien. Our theme music is by scissy him sohn rate review and follow every episode wherever you listen to podcasts new episodes out every week and be sure to check out our website. Mmm for the top news stories and farmer marketing.