Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Bold Thinkers Wanted to Improve Our Healthspan

Jody TropeanoHead of Content, HLTH


Americans are sick and tired.

Sick and tired of political division. Sick and tired of challenging economic headwinds. Sick and tired of inequality and stark disparities. And literally, just sick and tired. In 2023, eight chronic conditions reached their highest prevalence ever recorded, and it’s reported that one in three adults do not get enough sleep, leading to a plethora of adverse health outcomes. 

While our life expectancy in the US has finally started to rebound after the pandemic, less and less of these years are spent in good health. The average proportion of life spent in good health has been on a slow, but steady decline over the past three decades. Further, women spend 25% more of their lives in poor health than men. We are on a downward trajectory that will have major economic, social and health consequences unless action is taken. Living healthier years, not just more years, needs to be the focus moving forward. 

So, how did we get here? Some may argue technology has led to a more sedentary lifestyle. With a click of a button, everything you need can be delivered right to your door. Children are continuing to play less outdoors and preferring to scroll on social media instead, indirectly leading to approximately 10% of US children now having fatty liver disease, a condition linked to obesity and lack of exercise. Others may argue that the harmful chemicals in household products along with our increasingly processed food supply are the culprits. 

Our healthcare system is also often to blame, with over 70% of US adults reporting that the system has failed them. And if you don’t agree with any of these reasons, you always have the option to blame politics! This is America after all. 

Ok, enough lamenting on the negative state we find ourselves in. How do we impact positive change? How do we give people more healthy years to spend doing what they love with the people that they love? 

How do we increase our healthspan and not just our lifespan?

This question is at the core of what we’re looking to uncover through our HLTH 2024 agenda. We’ll walk through adverse health events plaguing us at each stage of our life, from birth to death, and the solutions available, or not yet created, to help people lead healthier, longer lives. We’ll focus on shifting the system, and healthcare dollars, towards a preventative rather than reactive approach to care. We’ll collectively discuss how to utilize the technology and knowledge available to catch disease earlier, treat it more effectively and place people on a path toward better health. And yes, we will talk about AI… a lot. 

If you're thinking that this is a tall order for a mere 4-day event, you're not wrong. Our mission extends far beyond these 4 days in October, but in the small role that we play during our time with you in Las Vegas, we're determined to get it right.

So, what will we cover this year? We recognize that the solutions to our healthspan problem lie in various corners of the health ecosystem. First, our current health system needs fine-tuning to increase access, reduce inequities, provide for greater price transparency and remain open to emerging technologies, like AI, that can improve the practice of medicine. How can we clean up our convoluted processes, implement novel payment models, embrace outside disruptors and get honest about what’s simply not working? The status quo of our broken system is no longer acceptable. 

Next, we’ll cover specific conditions that are contributing to our decreased healthspan and are the biggest drivers of healthcare costs. For example, the increased prevalence of cancer among younger populations, the vital role of oral-systemic health in overall health, treating mental illness separate from mental wellness, and what GLP-1’s will mean for the future of diabetes and obesity care, just to name a few. How can we prevent the onset of unnecessary illness, injury and death while helping those genetically predisposed or already managing chronic disease to live a healthier life?

We recognize that many contributors to health outcomes do not stem from healthcare at all. For example, reproductive rights were set back decades with just the sweep of a pen in D.C. Politics is playing an increased role in personal healthcare decisions and we won’t ignore this trend on our agenda. Further, where you were born, the color of your skin, the air you breathe, the gender you identify with, and the technology at your disposal all play a role in the level of access, quality and affordability of care received. Our agenda will provide a platform to have these hard, but necessary, conversations about equity and equality of care and how we can strive to put patients above politics, full stop. 

WELL by HLTH will be back in full force as the thriving demand for direct-to-consumer health and wellness continues. There are a plethora of solutions out there that put consumers in the driver's seat of their own health and well-being, no longer confined by the invisible walls of our traditional healthcare system. People are hungry for solutions to guide them in eating better, moving more, sleeping soundly and staying mentally resilient. As our health system has been slow to prioritize prevention, consumer health is running laps around it with solutions offering the foresight necessary to heed disease and illness. The catch is of course that paying for many of these solutions out of pocket is not cheap, but we are in the early innings here. To make a dent in increasing our healthspan, we will have to welcome consumer wellness to the table. 

Last but certainly not least, we’re bringing back our dedicated employer stage at HLTH where top benefits leaders will share their latest pain points and success stories on their mission to improve the health and wellbeing of over 150 million Americans with an employer-sponsored health plan. They are not alone in their mission, but will be joined by top digital health companies who believe the road to better health cuts right through the heart of America’s workforce. If we can improve well-being and foster inclusive workplaces in each of our employee populations, then we can collectively shift the needle for all.  

I certainly cannot mention all the amazing topics we’ll cover at HLTH 2024 in this short blog, so if you don’t see something here, it does not mean we’re leaving it out. Our content team is aiming to release our preliminary agenda earlier than ever before this year, July 16th to be exact, so you won’t have to wait long to see it in its entirety. 

For now, we are calling all bold thinkers to apply to speak on our stages. We want to hear your biggest and most ambitious ideas on how we can live not just longer, but healthier. How we can reach the underserved. How we can utilize novel technologies in unique ways. How we can collaborate, compete, and push each other to do better for patients. Currently we are not winning the game of better health, so we need to assemble the best and brightest to have a chance at creating real change in our lifetime and for our future generations. 

After all, fortune favors the bold. 

To join us at HLTH 2024, register here.

We can’t wait to see you in Las Vegas! 

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