Three Takeaways from Rock Health Summit 2018

Last week, writer George McLaughlin attended the annual Rock Health Summit in San Francisco. He learned a lot at the conference, but in a recent article he shared his three key takeaways.

First, he said, everyone is excited about voice—that is, leveraging voice recognition technology to push the digital health and telemedicine industries ahead. Why? The two primary use cases for voice that he heard at the Rock Health Summit were that it would ease provider documentation burden and that it would engage and/or educate patients.

Drastically reducing the amount of documentation required by healthcare providers is what McLaughlin referred to as a “holy grail problem” in healthcare. “One thing is for sure, whoever figures out how to leverage voice to streamline provider documentation is going to be incredibly successful,” he wrote.

Harnessing voice recognition software to build patient engagement tools was also a frequent topic of conversation at the summit. “What exactly the killer app will be remains to be seen,” McLaughlin wrote, “but the potential to streamline documentation, efficiently distribute information, and engage with patients wherever they may be has captured the attention of entrepreneurs and VCs alike.”

His second key takeaway: Math is easy, but healthcare is hard. What he meant by that is that understanding workflow and users is a lot more difficult than developing algorithms. Summit panelist Suchi Saria has done a lot of work on creating an AI that can predict whether or not a patient is at risk of sepsis—but even with the backing of a healthcare giant like Johns Hopkins, she and her team haven’t been able to effectively introduce this AI into the workflow of providers at scale.

There was a lot of optimism at the summit about AI’s potential to optimize various aspects of healthcare. However, the real challenge is being able to introduce these tools into workflows.

McLaughlin’s final takeaway was that people should keep an eye on the Medicare Advantage market. About 35 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, and that is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2025. Mario Schlosser of Oscar said the company’s investment in the space has been substantial. Clover Health and Devoted Health are also pushing into that market, staking their futures on their ability to succeed in the Medicare Advantage market. “Combine that with the incumbents and we very well might be witnessing the battleground that informs the future of health insurance,” McLaughlin wrote.

Read the full essay here.