The annual HLTH conference in Las Vegas is a significant event in the Digital Health calendar, bringing together leaders and influencers from the ecosystem. It ran earlier this year, from October 8th to 11th, 2023, but with a notable change of venue from the Venetian Convention Centre to the Las Vegas Convention Centre, apparently due to a double booking! However, organizers assured that it will return to the Venetian in 2024.
The State of Digital Health
With approximately 10,000 attendees, it is definitely one of the marquee events in the Digital Health calendar. Many investors, consulting firms and corporations attended but probably fewer than in 2022 as an overall percentage of total attendees. Many chose to conduct pre-arranged meetings from the comfort of their private rooms.
The conference had a strong presence of Digital Health ventures, with a likely bias towards those in the early stages. Galen Growth will soon be publishing a detailed analysis of the ventures present at HLTH. Subscribe to be notified.
Overall, HLTH 2023 seemed to witness a turning point for the Digital Health industry.
Digital Health 2.0
Discussions at HLTH revolved around the idea that Digital Health 1.0 is now firmly behind us.
The past few years of Digital Health public market activity suggest the industry experienced a “hype cycle”. The private market is no different!
The era of growth at all costs is over and we are moving into a period of accelerated maturing of the Digital Health ecosystem, referred to as Digital Health 2.0 which commentators at HLTH suggest will lead to a more robust Digital Health ecosystem driven by proof points.
Advancements in Generative AI and large language models are unleashing a wave of software applications that will deliver services as the final product. This shift is particularly exciting for healthcare incumbents with pressing issues, such as the biopharma industry with weak pipelines and looming patent cliffs.
Pharmacos were very much present and advocating the merits of tech in transforming their value chains. Lisa Banks from GSK declared that “70% of clinical trial data will be sourced digitally within the next 3 years”.
Galen Growth recently published an in-depth analysis of Generative AI in Digital Health Innovation to help our clients and subscribers get beyond the hype. Visit our Research page to download your own copy.
The Big Announcement
One of the most significant announcements at HLTH came from General Catalyst, indicating their intention to acquire a US health system, Health Assurance Transformation Corporation (HATCo). This initiative is to be led by former Intermountain (a US Health System) CEO Marc Harrison.
This bold move led to many discussions how much work had already been done versus a concept being float tested to the industry. Odds are not in favour as execution will require very different competencies as proven by PE firms which have abandoned their appetite to buy hospitals.
Attendees had mixed responses, ranging from curiosity to cynicism!
The Importance of Clinical Evidence
Moderated by FINN Partners, Galen Growth, DIME and Vive Collective discussed the growing significance of Clinical Evidence as a proof point. Beginning with defining what Clinical Evidence is, and what the current state of Clinical Evidence is across the global ecosystems, panel members then explored regulations, frameworks and provided guidance.
Galen Growth and FINN co-published a special edition of the Galen Growth analysis of Clinical Evidence across the global Digital Health ecosystems. Visit the Galen Growth Research page to download your own copy.
Much talk about AI and, especially GenAI
Rising costs, labour shortages across clinician and administrative staff, and the rise of physician burnout are creating a breaking point for the healthcare system. Over 80% of providers are shifting their strategies to use AI to address these inefficiencies, starting with administrative processes.
Will we see Digital Health moving from often being a solution looking for problem to a new era of innovation?
Galen Growth cuts through the hype with its latest research on GenAI in Digital Health Innovation.
Funding Stress, are we there yet?
Very little talk of the funding stress in the ecosystem other than to acknowledge that the ongoing funding drought is impacting all ventures, whatever their perceived quality.
Galen Growth reported at 2023 midyear point that fewer than 40% of Digital Health ventures had raised funds in the past 18 months, with those which had achieving an extension or debt funding. Valuations have definitely not bottomed out yet.
Is Europe’s chief innovation export regulation?
HLTH 2023 hosted a European delegation, showcasing Europe’s Digital Health ambassadors, government-sponsored booths, and a sizable cohort of Digital Health ventures. This was a welcome contrast to the usual headlines from Europe where regulating innovation seems to have a greater priority!
Galen Growth is greatly looking forward to HLTH in Europe in June 2024 to place the spotlight on Digital Health innovation across Europe and drill into why this sizeable ecosystem is still only a fraction of the scale it should be.
The GLP-1 Debate
Many robust debates at the conference on whether the GLP-1 class of drugs were good or bad news for society. Whilst their benefits were recognised, concerns exist regarding affordability, and potential side-effects. The big question was whether Digital Health had a role to play in bedding down the benefits of this new drug class.
Entertainment Beyond Health
As an entertaining side note, many HLTH participants took the opportunity to visit the Sphere, Las Vegas’ latest entertainment venue (a 120-metre-high illuminated ball which winks at you from time to time!) and enjoyed a live performance by the Irish rock band U2.
HLTH 2023 was a pivotal event for the Digital Health industry, heralding in the era of Digital Health 2.0. The industry is transitioning from a focus on growth at all costs to a more mature phase driven by proof points. The challenges of funding and the shift towards evidence-based approaches are at the forefront, indicating an exciting and transformative future for Digital Health.
The conference also emphasized the global nature of the industry and the potential of innovation in Europe.
As attendees returned to their respective corners of the healthcare ecosystem, we believe they did so with a clearer vision of the road ahead and more convinced of the profound impact Digital Health is set to make.