Key takeaways from ViVE: AI, security concerns, and industry transactions take centre stage

Cyber security and data protection

ViVE always offers an excellent opportunity to register the pulse of the digital healthcare industry and learn from the innovators leading the market. The atmosphere at the 2024 conference was electric, with conversations around artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and significant partnerships shaping the future of healthcare.

AI was the most polarising topic of the conference. While there are still naysayers, optimism outweighs pessimism about the entrance of AI-powered predictive clinical models in the near future and much was said about its potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery. For now, non-clinical applications that have tangible benefits for physicians and healthcare systems, but do not touch on more sensitive concerns like healthcare decisions — for example, documentation and education — are gaining the first ground in the sector. There was a noticeable presence from companies demonstrating how their AI technologies can support physicians by integrating note documentation directly into Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), and venture capital attention has followed, evidenced by Abridge's recent funding round.

Future and present challenges to adoption

In parallel to the increased acceptance of AI is a rise in security concerns, and cybersecurity commanded a lot of air space at ViVE. Alongside the optimism surrounding AI, security concerns were emphasised by the presence of major players like Palantir and underscored by high profile incidents like the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare. This incident especially serves as a stark reminder of the tangible threats in the digital health space, making cybersecurity more relevant than ever.

While these more visionary sessions dreamed ahead to the future of digital in the industry, others were firmly rooted in the challenges facing it right now. Health systems are increasingly on board with digital health tools, for example, but often struggle to finance relevant solutions. Sessions around the CPT coding process, a health system’s primary artery for financing, emphasised the complexity of the reimbursement process and highlighted a serious barrier to getting innovation off the ground. Streamlining reimbursement mechanisms emerged as a critical priority to facilitate the uptake of innovative technologies.

Innovation should not sacrifice quality and equity

Other sessions were concerned that the digital health revolution is leaving some behind, and focused on the ongoing need for equitable care delivery. One session, titled "High Quality That Isn’t an Act", featured Advocate Health shedding light on its hospital-at-home programme in partnership with Best Buy Health. The discussion emphasised the need for community-based care to bridge the health equity gap, and the importance of consolidating trusted data under a singular governance policy. The approach aims to decrease care variations and promote standardised medicine through new clinical care pathways and technology.

These conversations also addressed the fear that implementing digital health comes at the sacrifice of quality of care. Discussions included a call for singular IT platforms or digital ecosystems to connect all stakeholders, facilitating data sharing to make comprehensive care delivery a reality, and spoke of the role of policy in supporting healthcare advancements. Another point of emphasis was the collective effort required to implement screening for social determinants of health and health equity, as mandated by CMS and the Joint Commissions.

The active role of the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association (AMA) was very active at the event, advocating for better government policies to standardise and improve data collection, as well as better financial models to fund digital tools. Policies should promote the use of standardised data for quality improvement and support research to identify effective interventions for a variety of complications.

The AMA’s participation follows closely on the release of their recommendations to the US Department of Health and Human Services to promote better maternal health outcomes through the use of digital tools, particularly remote patient monitoring tools to manage complications like pregnancy-related hypertension.

To support their recommendations, the AMA called on the government to improve telehealth infrastructure and expand broadband access. While digital health innovators have been creative about circumventing the need for broadband services, reliable connectivity can still present a barrier to telehealth services, particularly in very remote areas. The AMA called for initiatives like the Connected Care Pilot Program, which funds broadband and network services, to be expanded and made permanent, focusing particularly on improving access in rural areas.

ViVE 2024 provided a comprehensive look at the current state and future of healthcare technology, and highlighted the industry's dynamism and resilience. As we look forward to the innovations and collaborations that will emerge in the coming year, it's clear the healthcare sector remains at the forefront of technological advancement, with a steadfast commitment to improving patient care and outcomes.

Sarah Nicholson
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Sarah Nicholson