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March 31, 2022
David W. Johnson
Innovation Outcomes Policy
4-Minute 4sight Blogs Dispatches

David Johnson’s 2021 HLTH Executive Summary in “Bullet-Point” Journalism

Nobody generates content and creates eye-popping graphics like HLTH.

No healthcare business publication synthesizes, opines and writes like 4sight Health.

That’s why we partnered with HLTH to create and distribute an executive summary for the massive HLTH 2021 event in Boston.

Read David Johnson’s full executive summary.

A recent New York Times article describes how Axios is reinventing news coverage by using short-format writing (think bullet points) to deliver content to digital audiences in concise, curated, digestible bulletins.

They’re good at it. Axios Vitals is my first stop each morning to catch up on the latest developments in healthcare.

With that in mind, I’m shamelessly using their template to summarize our long-form executive summary. Today’s Dispatch is 771 words and a 3-minute read.

Situational Awareness

In October 2021, the massive HLTH conference returned to in-person programming, demonstrating how to safely convene large groups (6500-plus), engage them with riveting content and promote nonstop networking.

In the process, HLTH confirmed its role as the industry’s go-to event.


1. For all its Familiarity, HLTH 2021 Was Different in Fundamental and Evolutionary Ways

COVID has disrupted the lives of all Americans and revealed deep fractures within the healthcare ecosystem relating to access, equity, cost and ease-of-use.

Why it matters: COVID disruption has changed healthcare service delivery and policy debate. There is no going back.

  • The healthcare ecosystem demonstrated remarkable resilience and resourcefulness in its pandemic response.
  • Despite the heroic efforts, COVID disproportionately hospitalized and killed marginalized populations.
  • Our intense, collective COVID experience has pushed us to reimagine how healthcare can be fairer, smarter, kinder and more affordable.


2. The Ecosystem’s Perils and Possibilities Were on Full Display

By the numbers: HLTH’s stats video captures the ecosystem’s confounding and breathtaking character.

The Bad

  • The U.S. has experienced its largest drop in life expectancy since World War II.
  • One in five Americans believe there is a microchip in COVID vaccines.
  • Medical bills account for 62.1% of all bankruptcies.
  • Drug overdose deaths jumped 30% in 2020.

The Good

  • Decentralized drug trials are more inclusive and are accelerating drug development.
  • Technology translated a man’s brain signals into words on a computer screen.
  • Digital apps are enabling price shopping for prescription drugs.
  • Digital health companies raised a record $21.3 billion through 3Q 2021. 

What they’re saying: Rising above the fray, HLTH CEO Jon Weiner called on healthcare’s “leaders to lead” by offering specific strategies for “addressing inequities, silencing bad actors and raising our collective voices for people in need.”


3. HLTH 2019 vs. 2021

The big picture: HLTH 2019 and 2021 provided a revealing snapshot of the healthcare ecosystem’s pre- and post-COVID mindsets

  • Pandemic preparedness and responsiveness were front and center at 2021 HLTH after being virtually nonexistent at 2019 HLTH.
  • A theoretical possibility at 2019 HLTH, CRISPR technology reported successful trials at 2021 HLTH.
  • Virtual and hospital-at-home models went from fringe to mainstream treatment modalities almost overnight.
  • The number of digital health unicorns (private companies with valuations in excess of $1 billion) grew from 19 in 2019 to 68 in 2021.

COVID disruption necessitated a government bailout for hospitals illustrating the deep structural flaws embedded within current payment models.

Yes, but: In contrast to 2019 HLTH where Trump CMS Administrator Seema Verma addressed payment reform, market concentration and new transparency/interoperability regulations, Biden CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure stressed the overarching importance of health equity.


4. 2021 HLTH’s Content Themes Again Spanned Business, Tech and Policy

Big picture: HLTH provides an opportunity to go to the balcony and survey the expansive industry ecosystem to identify and understand the big levers driving market and policy behaviors.

Zoom in: Amid the grand scale, intricacies and dysfunction, I found three unifying themes.

  • Equity all day every day: 2021 HLTH dedicated two of the fourteen content themes to health equity programming while health disparities and inequity featured prominently in almost all session discussions.
  • The great shift from healthcare to well-being: The healthcare ecosystem is directing more resources toward healthy multipliers that address social, behavioral and environmental factors shaping individual and community well-being.
  • Healthcare is fixable: With new technologies, pro-market regulatory interventions and innovative new business models, the healthcare ecosystem is attacking its embedded dysfunction through the marketplace by empowering American consumers to take more control of their healthcare decision-making and individual well-being.


5. Dig deeper here.

Read and download the full 3,000-word executive summary.


6. Reply and Let Us Know

Do you want more of this “smart-brevity” format in future 4sight Health content? Our 4sight Friday afternoon newsletter delivers a glance at our content and POV for the week, but much of our content is meaty.

Email us at info@4sighthealth.com if you’d like short overviews of our long-form commentaries in your email, rather than the entire piece.

Read all dispatches from Dave Johnson here.

About the Author

David W. Johnson

David Johnson is the CEO of 4sight Health, an advisory company working at the intersection of healthcare strategy, economics, innovation. Johnson is a healthcare thought leader, keynote speaker, and strategic advisor to organizations busting the status-quo to reform our healthcare system. He is the author of Market vs. Medicine: America’s Epic Fight for Better, Affordable Healthcare, and his second book, The Customer Revolution in Healthcare: Delivering Kinder, Smarter, Affordable Care for All (McGraw-Hill 2019). As a speaker, Dave plays the role of rebel, challenger, industry historian, investor and company evaluator to push audiences forward. (Watch bio video.) Johnson applies his 25+ years of investment banking in healthcare to identify ways the healthcare industry must change to deliver better care. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, an English degree from Colgate University, and served in the African Peace Corp service. Join over 10k+ healthcare executives who read our weekly insights and commentary on www.4sighthealth.com. His third book, Less Healthcare, More Health: The Prescription for a Happier, More Equitable and Productive America, will publish in 2024.

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