The HLTH Europe 2024 conference rolled out its inaugural event in Amsterdam from 17 to 20 June 2024, adapting the successful HLTH US recipe for a European audience. After six months of high-profile news and hesitancy, it marked a very important halfway check-in.

Unlike its American counterpart, the coffee was notably drinkable, and the networking opportunities were abundant. Attendees enjoyed being invited to numerous conference-led and exclusive events, making it a memorable and insightful experience.

Monday – Day 0: Partner Events and Eager Crowds

The conference kicked off with a half-day dedicated to partner events. The crowd’s eagerness was palpable as attendees arrived early, setting the tone for an engaging event. Lunch queues competed with breakout sessions hosted by conference partners, leading to a somewhat slow start.

HLTH Europe: Day 0

Key Highlights:

Galen Growth Session: Co-hosted a critical discussion on the role of digital health innovation in overhauling health systems.

Keynote by Sara Schmachtenberg: Showcased health systems engagement in the US and Europe with digital health innovators.

Panel of Experts, including Darshak Sanghavi, Fredrik Öhrn, Sunil Dadlani, and Harpreet Sood discussed the shift in the US health system from fee-for-service to fee-for-value and the creation of ARPA-H due to misplaced healthcare innovation investments.

Challenges Highlighted included:

  • NHS doctors are reticent about using tech like ambient listening due to productivity concerns, privacy issues, costs, and fear of change.
  • Long sales cycles in digital health ventures necessitate quick impact demonstrations to shorten them.
  • New solutions must avoid expanding the scope of work for hospitals and physicians. Instead, they must include the whole ecosystem.
  • Current improvements are mostly incremental, so ARPA-H funding is looking to fund innovation leaps.

Tuesday & Wednesday – Days 1 & 2: Engaging Discussions and Networking

The ecosystem’s waiting pattern was evident, with investment capital accumulating as investors waited for valuations to bottom out and consolidation to continue. Notably, HLTH acquisition of HealthXL was announced to create the HLTH Community. However, Ali Parsa’s session was cancelled at the last minute, disappointing many eager to learn from Babylon’s lessons.

HLTH Europe 2024

Trending Topics:

  • AI and Gen AI: Dominated conversations, keynotes, and panels.
  • TechBio: Explored as a potential silver bullet for biopharma.
  • Women’s Health: Emphasised the importance of digital health in democratising women’s health.
  • DIGa and Digital Health Reimbursement: Discussed extensively as critical to scaling patient solutions in Europe
  • Cannabis Tech: Highlighted, befitting the Amsterdam venue!
  • Primary Care: Questions arose about its seemingly forgotten focus in the digital health landscape.
  • Founder Burnout: Addressed the unique challenges digital health CEOs and founders face and potential solutions.
  • Sustainability in Healthcare: Discussed the high carbon footprint of hospitals and the need for sustainable practices.

Overheard at HLTH Europe

“Now that I have seen your solution, can I have my problem back?”

“Who is the final decision-maker for digital health in big pharma? When you find out, tell us.”

“More digital health pilots in the NHS than British Airways.”

“Hospitals are drowning in the Tech tsunami.”

Some watch outs for 2025

  • Some panels echoed similar sentiments without enough contrasting views, creating an impression of plain sailing
  • Smaller organisations’ presentations were preferred for their depth and fewer infomercials.
  • Courteous networking with many reconnections and meetings; however, some US habits crept in.

Stakeholder Presence:

  • Limited biopharma presence with companies like UCB, Roche, and Bayer. Some with booths, and some sheltering in their conference offices
  • Few health systems but an increased presence of large consulting firms
  • A notable and very welcome US presence.

Final Thoughts

The HLTH Europe conference in Amsterdam was remarkable, blending insightful discussions, high-level networking, and a touch of local flavour. From addressing the pressing challenges in digital health to exploring innovative solutions and trends, the event set the stage for meaningful advancements in the healthcare ecosystem.

Thanks to the HLTH Europe team for organising a fantastic inaugural event in Amsterdam, which set a high standard for future European conferences. Galen Growth will be at HLTH in Las Vegas in October 2024.