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October 28, 2021

Putting trust at the heart of healthcare: Overheard at HLTH 2021

About 6,600 people shipped up to Boston for an epic in-person return to HLTH. This year’s theme was “Dear Future,” and HLTH brought together an exceptional group of thought leaders to dive into this topic and imagine better healthcare for all. The annual event included a diverse set of leading providers, payers, employers, investors, policymakers, and startups for engaging conversations, interesting panels, and networking—all with strong safety precautions in place.

On the heels of our launch of Navigate by Bright.md to get patients to the right venue of care, the Bright.md team took to Boston to share more about our newest product, meet with partners, and talk about the future we’re building with asynchronous telehealth.

After four days of meeting fellow attendees and talking with executives, Bright.md’s team left feeling invigorated by how innovations like ours are helping to propel a future of healthcare that is better for patients and providers.

Here are a few of the key themes our team heard most at HLTH that we’ll continue to focus on as we look toward the future.

Trust is at the heart of healthcare. The concept of trust in healthcare is certainly nothing new, but coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic—with provider burnout reaching crisis levels and healthcare staff shortages wreaking havoc on systems—attendees highlighted the need to regain patient trust and focus on building trust among providers, nurses, and staff. On the mainstage, several speakers emphasized how important it is to ensure providers and staff trust the digital tools they’re using. Some of the ideas to help foster trust focused on provider inclusion in telehealth decision-making, embedding regular training centered on how tools improve their ability to deliver care, and introducing tools that are designed by and for providers, just as much as patients.

Healthcare needs to fit people’s lifestyles. The concept of consumerization of healthcare is nothing new, and it was certainly front and center at the Boston Convention Center. Speakers focused on personalization, meeting patients where they are, and learning from consumer behavior through the pandemic. But two key themes at this conference were health at home and virtual-first care models. With these two trends, the spotlight was on entrants like Walmart and Best Buy, as well as the abundance of direct-to-consumer players at HLTH—and the ever-prescient need for health systems to remain competitive.

Focus on providers as key to patient engagement. When it comes to telehealth and digital tools, patient engagement and adoption post-COVID remained a hot topic. The question: with more options than ever before, how can we help consumers to use the right tools for them? At the heart of these conversations at HLTH—and what we’ve been talking about with health system executives and peers outside of Boston—is providers. Conversations centered on the fact patients are looking to their providers for guidance on where to go for the care they need, as well as what tools to use.

During a panel in HLTH’s patient engagement track, Dipa Mehta, vice president of corporate development and ventures at Advocate Aurora Health, emphasized this point. “For patient engagement, it’s pretty onerous to just put it onto the patient. Who is the next person that a patient trusts that is supposed to be part of that process? For a number of you . . . it’s providers.”

Closing gaps in health access and equity needs to be an imperative for every healthcare organization. There’s a sense of a shared responsibility to improve access to quality care and drive equitable health outcomes that strongly came through at HLTH. With several conversations on the mainstage focused on learnings from COVID-19, the facts around disparities in access to care and vaccines, as well as deaths, in Black and Latinx communities were at the forefront. It was inspiring to hear from leaders on what’s working in addressing Social Determinants of Health, while speaking to how telehealth solutions like Bright.md are helping folks in rural areas access the care they need. But of course, the work must continue. And we left feeling inspired by the shared sense that the future that HLTH was focused on this year will be one where health equity is embedded in care delivery.

“Dear Future . . .”: Asynchronous technology will power hybrid care delivery. Looking to the immediate future, hybrid care delivery is what we’re all working toward—with virtual care, remote patient monitoring, mental health, and more helping to meet patient expectations and drive the best outcomes. When we finish the “Dear Future” prompt, we see asynchronous technology making every single care encounter more enjoyable and efficient. It was great to feel this concept gaining momentum with executives, providers, and payers alike, and to think through even more ways for asynchronous technology to power hybrid care delivery.

Missed us at HLTH and want to continue the conversation? Reach out to connect with someone from Bright.md’s team now.

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