By Kristin Deuber
A sense of cautious optimism permeated the atmosphere at this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Throughout the panels and events I attended, leaders from companies of all sizes across the healthcare landscape conveyed sentiment that 2023 was not for the faint of heart. However, amidst the uncertainties, a prevailing optimism has emerged regarding funding prospects, increased M&A activity and the promise of AI to expedite the delivery of treatments to patients.
Here are some of the conversations that have me optimistic about the year ahead:
Using digital health to dive health equity forward. Many organizations have the best intentions regarding health equity, but tactical programs can be challenging to implement, which is why I’m excited about collaborations like the one between Uber Health and social analytics company Socially Determined. They are partnering to help providers and payers identify vulnerable Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and commercially insured beneficiaries most in need of transportation, pharmacy and food-based benefits.
Also this week at CES, our client, Elevance Health, in collaboration with Verizon and other wireless carriers, announced a first-of-its-kind program that will offer high-quality smartphones with unlimited data, talk and texting services at no cost to eligible individuals enrolled in some of its affiliated Medicaid health plans. This program is a significant step forward in addressing the digital divide in America.
Optimizing GLP-1 efficacy through lifestyle management. As more GLP-1s come on the market with innovations in the pipeline and efforts to make these treatments more accessible and affordable, I’m inspired to hear more physicians like Dr. Diana Thiara, the Medical Director for UCSF’s Weight Management Program, shed light on the pivotal role of lifestyle management and digital health tools in aiding patients to effectively lose weight and manage obesity as a chronic condition. These health professionals witness first-hand the transformative impact of these medications on their patients’ physical and mental well-being when lifestyle changes are made, instilling optimism regarding the long-term benefits to individuals, employers and the health system at large.
Leveraging real-world data and AI to maximize the effectiveness of clinical trials.
While AI is already enhancing operational efficiencies in clinical trials related to patient recruitment, optimizing trial design and real-time monitoring and data management, leaders from organizations like Vis.ai and H1 underscored the intriguing potential of “digital twins” in clinical trials. Since it can be challenging to reach and recruit people in low-income and rural areas to participate in clinical trials, digital twins can be be generated using existing data and AI to better understand the specific medical needs of these communities, facilitating accelerated access to essential medications and care. The utilization of digital twins in this instance not only overcomes recruitment hurdles but also paves the way for more tailored and responsive health interventions, ensuring equitable inclusion of diverse populations.
So, what does this climate mean for healthcare organizations and communicators in 2024?
Several optimistic panels shared a perspective that resonated with me: To drive real change in healthcare, we must do a better job of collectively telling the positive stories that are moving the industry and patient care forward.
While the industry may continue to face a challenging funding and regulatory environment in 2024, organizations must collaborate to tell stories of innovations that are driving down the costs of medications, increasing accessibility to care and saving lives. At Allison, we stand ready to help the companies who are taking care of all of us tell their stories.
Kristin Deuber is a Senior Vice President in Allison’s health practice, providing account strategy and management, media relations and thought leadership strategy and corporate reputation management counsel.