Missed HLTH 2022? We took notes.

December 9th, 2022

Trading the Twin Cities for the city that never sleeps, Yamamoto sent Andy Ross, Director of Client Experience and Growth, Jon Trettel, Chief Digital Officer, and David Weaver, Brand Strategy and Cultural Insights Director to Las Vegas for the 5th Annual HLTH Conference.

This world-class gathering is the #1 healthcare innovation expo, attended by providers and health systems, payers and insurance companies, employers and benefit leaders, consumer tech and health tech, as well as wellness companies, investors, and startups.

With over 10,000 attendees, 300+ speakers, and 800+ sponsors, the event was attended by the “who’s who” within the industry. Attendees and sponsors included friends of Yamamoto such as Noom, Premise Health, Walgreens, Independence Blue Cross, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Yamamoto was on the scene for three primary reasons:

  • To understand industry trends and how they may impact our current client base
  • To gather and generate insights to help keep our thinking current
  • To understand the headwinds impacting employees and workplace dynamics in the talent/recruitment and culture space

We came away from the show informed, provoked, and inspired, with our own Top 10 list of takeaways.

1: The healthcare market is in flux.

Flexibility has become a key tool in employee recruitment and retention in the enterprise space. Employers are rapidly evolving their benefit mix and health-based communications to attract, retain, and engage talent. And their toolkit is full of new opportunities like lifestyle spending accounts, expanded mental health, fitness, fertility, and family planning benefits, wellness stipends, life coach access, pet insurance, and other pet healthcare support offerings.

2: “Work/life balance” has gone away.

In the era of rampant virtual meetings and remote/hybrid work arrangements—integration is the word that is replacing balance. Companies are turning to cultural benefits like meeting-free days, shortened workweeks, and unlimited PTO as a way of addressing employees' need to unplug and detox from digital office demands. Some are even rebranding sick days as “care days” that allow people to care for themselves or the health of others.

3: Management has to take an active role.

Stop just leaving healthcare to the employee. More awareness of the mental and physical toll of our changing workplace has made empathy and understanding about employees' holistic lives a required skill for the next generation of workplace leaders.

4: Healthcare has to step up.

Many at this conference stated a belief that healthcare is “broken,” or at the very least, has to be re-imagined. The salad days of simplified “cafeteria plans” where everyone picks from the same set of benefits don’t meet the needs of the changing workforce.

5: We can’t afford a broken system.

Companies are reporting a marked increase in mental and physical health awareness and challenges brought into the fore during the pandemic. Some presenters reported that over 123 million Americans don’t have access to adequate mental health tools, and that 2 out of 3 primary care providers couldn’t get their patients to see a mental health expert if they wanted to.

6: The system needs many players.

There will be plenty of business for high-quality providers all across this space, but no one will be able to manage it all. The companies that perform above and beyond—and understand the “lane they succeed in”—will have a leg up.

7: What affects your mind and body starts with how you schedule your time.

Several points of research suggest mental health problems are born in our very own homes; that the behaviors we perform daily, our habits, eating patterns, sleep, and the like, are impacting and even causing our physical pain and challenges. It's why, for many people, getting well starts with getting new behaviors—and why future-forward workplaces should invest in resources that help employees manage stress and mental wellbeing.

8: Mental health concerns affect physical health.

Elevance Health (formerly Anthem, Inc.) reported that “2/3 of those suffering with mental health conditions also suffer from physical health conditions, including maybe 1-2 chronic issues.” Given the interplay between physical health and mental health, each liable to affect the other, a strain on a person's mental health could manifest into another health concern, like inadequate sleep: the tip of the iceberg in relation to future health challenges.

9: Sensing an opportunity, the marketplace is looking to fill a vacuum.

As we scouted the tradeshow floor, we were taken with the awareness that, because of the increase of healthcare data, information- and quantification- experts in the technology field are eager and willing to get into the solution space for these needs. But there needs to be a delicate dance between privacy requirements, data generation, and the need for radical personalization to better individual outcomes.

10: There is a need to make healthcare work better for individuals.

Whether they have rural or urban, remote, hybrid, or in-person workplaces, employers face increased pressure to provide more DEI and inclusive offerings. And there will be a challenge balancing all of this with the need for trust and privacy, to say nothing of the need to generate clinical-quality proof of certainty and outcomes.

In general, what we came away with was that the healthcare market needs strong brands and branding like never before. There is a need for clarity about what your brand is trying to solve, where it fits, and what it uniquely does well. A need for clear, simple language in a confusing and changing marketplace. Dominating all is the need for TRUST: consumer trust, partner trust, distribution channel trust, and health system trust.

And this is what brands do best.