Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…
After leaving CHIME last week, I had just enough time to swing by my home base, run a couple of loads of laundry, and repack for a climate that was 20 to 30 degrees cooler than San Antonio. Many of the people in Las Vegas were complaining about the cold, but there wasn’t any snow like I had at home, so I was happy with the temperatures.
This was my first year attending the HLTH conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Registration Sunday was crowded, with lines snaking throughout the halls of the conference center. There were plenty of staffers helping people find the end of the line and it moved quickly though.
Sessions on Sunday were standing room only. It felt strange being packed together like sardines given the social distancing of the last couple of years. I was one of the few people masking during the conference, although I wasn’t able to do it as consistently as I would have liked. Still, I figured that if I can reduce the risk of being exposed by even 50%, it was worth a shot. I have a lot of reasons to not bring COVID home, including the fact that next week is Thanksgiving and I have elderly and immune compromised relatives, and also the fact that I’m scheduled for a long-awaited medical procedure and don’t want a COVID-related cancellation. In some of the conversations I had, however, I felt like I had to explain to people why I was masking, which seemed strange.
Walgreens was offering COVID and flu vaccines onsite, but I didn’t see any mention of testing. I did, however, see multiple people buying COVID test kits at the local pharmacy. Several people I spoke with wished that HLTH had encouraged people to be vaccinated and to test prior to departing for the conference. Within the first day, I received four notifications from the local COVID-tracking app letting me know that I had been exposed. Although I’m glad to get the notifications, it was disappointing to receive so many so quickly.
The exhibit hall opened on Monday. I was initially a bit underwhelmed – there wasn’t the kind of energy I’m used to when HIMSS or another big show has its opening day. This improved as the day progressed, and I think perhaps people just took longer to settle into their booths than expected.
I liked the way that HLTH handed meals, with multiple locations serving food that was included in the price of the conference. I also liked having the “grab and go” options available throughout the day, including a bagel box, sushi lunch, breakfast burritos, a protein box, and more. The only downside of the grab and go stations was the lack of beverages, so unless I had a full water bottle in my bag, I had to trek somewhere to find a drink.
The exhibit hall was set up in a hub-and-spoke configuration rather than a grid structure, although there were grids within the various spokes. While standing near the supersized maps of the hall trying to find booths, I heard many comments that people didn’t like the configuration. The center of the hub was a giant HLTH-emblazoned moon suspended from the ceiling, with a darkened space with bean bag chairs inside.
The wi-fi at the conference center went down a couple of times during the week, and the HLTH app advised attendees not to use personal hotspots as they were contributing to the problem. There’s nothing quite like spotty wi-fi at a healthcare tech conference.
I spotted these cute shoes on Monday at a panel on maternal health that featured Jaime Bland, DNP, RN from CyncHealth, Mandira Singh from PointClickCare, and Thomas Novak from the Office of Policy in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. I don’t think people realize that pregnancy in the US is a risky condition. The panelists did a great job reviewing the challenges of interoperability and how to best let people know at the point of care that a patient is or has recently been pregnant. To paraphrase one of the panelists, you can’t just go around asking every woman if they’ve had a baby in the last 90 days. They discussed efforts happening to improve the situation in Nebraska, where many individuals have to travel an hour or more to receive prenatal care or to give birth.
These less-than-cute and decidedly orthopedic-yet-platform shoes were spotted at Zara, across the street in the Fashion Show Mall.
Speaking of shopping, one of the reasons I chose to stay at The Palazzo was its proximity to the meeting, as well as the fact that you can connect through the Grand Canal Shops and avoid walking through the smoky casino. One of the downsides of that path was that the folks working the cosmetic and bath products shops would stand in the doorways and hassle you as you went by. They didn’t seem to understand “no, thank you” and became increasingly aggressive as the week progressed. I have to say I’ve never made a purchase at a shop where people yelled at me from the door, and I’m not about to start.
Also spotted cutting through the shopping area was this person with a rescue-style backboard. She entered the Atomic Saloon Show theater and didn’t seem to be in a hurry, so I hope it was simply an in-service training session.
Solutions for tired feet were available at this handy vending machine at the Venetian.
Only in Las Vegas do people throw paper money in the fountain in addition to coins.
Although the food options in the exhibit hall were solid, finding dinner in the complex without a reservation was tricky. Many of the restaurants were not operating at capacity, presumably due to lack of staff. Others were packed. I successfully dodged being gifted an alcohol-filled guitar at a place where we stopped for a quick burger. On Monday, I would have enjoyed a nice glass of wine with a friend in the late evening, but we were stymied by the combination of restaurants that close at 10 p.m. and bar/lounge areas with a steep per-table minimum.
Cool things spotted on the floor:
- Caption Health offers Caption Care, which they describe as a “turnkey, end-to-end echo program” for heart failure with the ability to perform exams in the home or office setting. They offer “AI-guided ultrasound” and emphasized the ability to detect disease earlier.
- Kahun had a presence alongside a number of companies from Israel. Their digital clinical reasoning engine helps identify patient symptoms and connect them with clinical insights, including citations of peer reviewed studies upon which clinicians can rely. Some recent enhancements include the ability to order labs alongside the clinical information being provided.
- A blood drive was held Tuesday and Wednesday. Thanks to all who participated.
Hinge Health had plenty of giveaways and there was nary a rep in sight.
I spotted these reps in sperm hats several times, but couldn’t figure out which fertility company they were from.
A colleague of mine was on a panel Tuesday that was titled “Sexual Healing.” That should have been a great attention-getter, but I was disappointed to see so few people attending, especially since this is an important topic that more people should know about. It became busier as the session progressed, and most people stayed for the entire session. Sexual health can be an indicator of overall health and is impacted by many conditions, from depression to vascular disease to pelvic floor dysfunction and more. Often these conditions aren’t covered in medical school, residency programs, or physical therapy programs and it was great to hear this dynamic group trying to cut through the “shame and stigma” that they see in their patients and clients.
Carine Carmy, co-founder and CEO of Origin, noted that they are engaging patients through welcoming environments and “using wellness as a veneer for healthcare.” They are positioning their physical therapy services more like a consumer brand than a medical establishment because that’s what gets attention right now in the US. Lyndsey Harper MD, founder and CEO of Rosy Wellness, Inc. talked about their platform, which offers curated materials to help patients along their sexual health journey.
Tuesday night was party night, and I hit a couple of gatherings including one sponsored by SteadyMD (fresh off the announcement of their participation in the new Amazon Clinic telehealth offering) and Zus Health. Jonathan Bush addressed the audience towards the end of the evening, and although it was entertaining, his speech was tame compared to those he delivered at the HIStalkapaloozas of old.
From there it was off to the Ludacris performance, which was packed. I have to admit I left early, partly due to the crowd but partly due to the volume, which could literally be heard across the street at Caesar’s Palace.
After one more trip past the Bellagio fountains, it was off to bed to rest up for the early flight home.
What things did you think were the best and worst of HLTH? Leave a comment or email me.
Email Dr. Jayne.