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The 2021 Health Evolution Summit, my first in-person event in more than a year, brought me face-to-face with innovative healthcare companies and industry thought leaders from across the public and private healthcare sectors. 

A key theme of this summit, as you might expect, was the impact of the pandemic and delta variant on the healthcare industry. Within this context, after listening to numerous health plan leaders and industry experts, here are some key takeaways which resonated with me and should be top of mind for you.

  1. Culture plays a huge role in healthcare.

Resiliency was a key topic of discussion, particularly as it related to navigating the pandemic. The importance of a company culture that celebrates resiliency was highlighted. However, the dark side of culture was also addressed. Andy Slavitt, a key figure in the Biden Administration’s COVID response, talked about a corrosive political culture driving sub-optimal health outcomes in our country. He also noted that several world leaders have commented that while their countries have the same issues (e.g., vaccine hesitancy, population segments hard to reach, etc.), the U.S. is the only country where political identity plays an overwhelming role in our care decisions. 

  1. The focus on health equity is real.

The explosion of digital care is one of the pandemic’s silver linings. At the same time, this shines a beacon on the glaring state of health inequity in our country. Fortunately, presentations and conversations at the event highlight the efforts of many companies and institutions that are taking swift action to address this very real issue. Greg Adams, Kaiser CEO, challenged everyone “What we’ve done in the past isn’t good enough. What should we be doing now? A big part of building trust is engaging and listening and building the relationships that allow communities to see us own our inadequacies. None of us is perfect.”

  1. Changes in healthcare are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Observations, conversations, and presentations frequently centered around the obligation and promise of greater healthcare access and improved affordability.  It’s clear that a lot of small changes with meaningful impact will rule the day. David Holmberg, CEO of Highmark Health, described that impact, “At the end of the day, the pandemic forced us to stop worrying about things that don’t matter and figure out how to not only save lives but also save the health care system where we were responsible”. These small efforts, in aggregate, will do more to shift changes in healthcare than one major disruptive event ever could.

  1. Member engagement remains the cornerstone.

Personalized healthcare only works if members are engaged in a way that resonates with them. NHT has been living and shouting this mantra for years. I continue to believe that driving member behavior at-scale is the cornerstone for ensuring improved access, outcomes and affordability. The discussions and presentations at this summit only validated this stand.

The annual Health Evolution Summit provides a thought-provoking forum for many health companies, especially with the dramatic changes to the healthcare landscape over the last 18 months. The pandemic has challenged our preconceived notions of how healthcare can and should be delivered—and has all but eliminated barriers to digital health adoption.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the next Health Evolution Summit in April 2022.

— Peter Everett, CEO of Softheon Technologies