Healthcare Industry Perspectives

HLTH: Content. Companies. Connections.

November 14, 2019

In two years, HLTH has quickly emerged as one of healthcare’s leading industry gatherings. With attendance more than doubling to over 6,000 attendees, the conference featured an impressive list of speakers and rich networking environment. However, numerous attendees noted that it had more to do with other large industry events not evolving to address the regular frustration of their annual visitors – such as a lack of fresh, thought-provoking content and convenient networking environment to build industry connections.

HLTH thoughtfully developed a brilliant list of programming, highlighting diverse leaders from across the industry, including the Women at HLTH initiative. HLTH set up tracks that made it easy for attendees interested in a specific topic to stay in the same room over multiple related subjects. The topics and speakers were so captivating that it was difficult to select between concurrent sessions. In fact, many of the sessions were standing room only. When is the last time that you actually attended a session at a conference, or even had a badge at the annual healthcare gathering in San Francisco?

However, it was clear that some panels had an opportunity to go deeper. While the intentionality around topics aligned to specific tracks was evident, some discussions involved nothing more than buzzword bingo and could have benefited from additional depth.

Mark Cuban, a somewhat surprising keynote speaker, echoed this complaint about the healthcare industry broadly. Although Mark comes from outside of healthcare, he offered a thoughtful perspective on the myriad of problems across the industry. Mark was an embodiment of the broader technology companies, investors, and entrepreneurs in attendance that have identified healthcare as an industry that is ripe for disruption.

That being said, there were thousands of attendees who have spent their entire careers in healthcare. They have plenty of scars from investing millions on innovative services and technologies that seemed intuitive, but faced a $3.5+ trillion industry that largely resists change. One such speaker was the Kaiser Permanente CEO, Bernard Tyson, who unexpectedly passed away earlier this week. His keynote speech at HLTH on Kaiser’s program addressing food insecurity was not only inspiring, but it was likely one of the most pragmatic solutions discussed at the conference and a testament to a team continually willing to learn from all of those scars.

Along with the jam-packed agenda and engaged attendees, HLTH also offered a convenient environment for connecting with fellow attendees:

  • Organized networking sessions such as Funding Founders, designed to connect innovative companies with healthcare investors.
  • A mobile app that made it easy to contact other attendees.
  • An expanded Exhibit Hall with hundreds of innovative companies.  From our perspective, the presenting companies sent their varsity squad to HLTH and armed their teams with the right messages about their strategic capabilities. Sure it was a large room with lots of booths – but it felt different from other more sales-focused trade shows.

At the conclusion of the visit to Las Vegas, many noted that HLTH is a conference that better meets their needs in terms of content and networking opportunities, with some even considering reducing their presence across other industry events not delivering as strong of an ROI.   

HLTH has become a place to connect with a cross-section of the healthcare industry: large companies, entrepreneurial startups, investors, and advisors. This very much affirms what we said last year: “As we reflect on HLTH, the magic about this new conference is the ability to attract and encourage dialogue and information sharing while facilitating the necessary connections that can help the healthcare system live up to its potential.”

Did you attend HLTH? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.