Health Tech – Going from Here to There. A Health 2.0 Recap.

Rasu Shrestha, MD, MBA

Chief Innovation Officer of UPMC and Executive Vice President, Dr. Shrestha, participated in the Health 2.0 conference. Below are Dr. Shrestha’s thoughts and key takeaways from the three-day conference focused on ‘What’s Next in Health Tech?’

This was my third year witnessing the Health 2.0 magic in Santa Clara. My experience has been different every year, building on the dynamics of the prior year, and reflective of the transformation that our entire industry is undergoing.

This year’s Health 2.0 conference promised to showcase cutting-edge innovations transforming the health care system. And it did. But what was also evident were serious conversations not just about the “what,” but the “how,” and the “why.” Here are the top 5 takeaways for me.

What will you unlearn today?

The honor and responsibility of presenting the opening keynote and setting the pace for the few days in Santa Clara was not a feat that we took lightly. And kicking off the conference with a challenge seemed just like the right thing to do. “What will you unlearn today?” was a question I posed to the audience of enthusiastic attendees. Re-imagining the future of health care begs for us to not just attend these conferences and learn from each other around best practices, what’s worked and where to invest – but also to pause, reflect and let go of things. Unlearning is an essential part of progress forward, so we can consciously let go of older paradigms that have held us back, of foundations that were archaic, and of assumptions that have not gotten us anywhere.

Most startups are in a hurry; most of health care is not.

This theme resonated with the audience in the deepest of ways, and spurred many conversations about how we unpack and address this conundrum. Health systems need to understand that complacency is often your worst enemy, and startups need to understand that the pace of change is often metered by many factors well beyond their enthusiasm to get stuff done. Finding that balance often entails formulating the right partnerships with fellow doers who have both a shared vision, and a shared sense of urgency.

Complexity is the bane of our existence. But there’s a way forward.

Yes, complexity is the bane of our existence in health care. It is also (unfortunately) the norm. During our lunch and learn session, we showcased how, through the right balance of technology-enabled payer-provider collaboration, and the right type of a strategic alliance, we’re able to cut through some of the most complex challenges out there such as optimizing risk adjustments for organizations participating in Medicare Advantage, ACA, Medicaid and Medicaid ACO programs. Our story showcased the art of the possible: how experts from UPMC worked with Health Fidelity, a startup out of San Mateo, CA, and addressed some of the most complex challenges of measuring disease burden and optimizing risk.

Patients 2.0

One of the highlights of the Health 2.0 conference this year was also being able to interact directly with the patient community and innovators with a shared passion to make important strides alongside patients. We believe vehemently at UPMC Enterprises that the process of creating meaningful innovations starts first with empathy. And it was powerful to hear real patient stories and caregiver perspectives, as well as real world examples of love/hate relationships with technology!

A peek into the future.

They say that “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” This notion was on full display at Health 2.0. Remarkable bright spots ranged from discussions on how GIS (geographical information system) software can remarkably enhance data visualization and action via spatial data analytics and story maps, to profound showcases on real advancements in tackling the challenges of social determinants of health. The “Unmentionables” received more than a mention, and the engaging dialogue and demos of real world innovations were enticing.

The closing panel discussion titled “EMR Evolution: How The Big Players are Changing the Game” was the perfect wrap up, where I had an opportunity to share our thoughts on the (r)evolution ahead of us in not just deploying digital solutions, but truly tackling the toughest challenges around data interoperability, and embracing cloud and artificial intelligence the right way. APIs (application programming interfaces) are already commonplace in our smartphones, in how we do banking, or how we connect with anyone anywhere, but for health care, we’re at a leap-forward period where if we remember that the “P” in APIs could really propel the needs of the patient, then, we are truly off to the races!