JPM Healthcare Conference: A look back at the week, and ahead to the future

As the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference wrapped up last week, I took the opportunity to look back to how far we’ve come since we began attending the conference several years ago. Healthcare has been undergoing a profound shift, giving patients and providers more tools to improve health outcomes and payers more power to address rising costs. The nascent digital health industry has matured, with solutions proving their value.

Castlight has come a long way too, and this transformation was the focus of my presentation at JPM. In our early years, we pioneered the healthcare transparency market and, now, we enter 2018 as the leading health navigation platform. This transition has been fueled by our investment in predictive analytics, broadening our platform capabilities, and deepening our integrations with best-in-class benefits solutions. And, all of this was capped by our company and team’s successful joining forces with Jiff last year.

To quote Bill Gates, from his opening remarks this week, “I talk about what we’ve accomplished in the past because it makes me optimistic about what we can accomplish in the future.”

Now, with our comprehensive platform, Castlight can continue to advance and bring healthcare navigation to self-insured and fully-insured employers in every market and industry across the country. But, Castlight’s future wasn’t my only takeaway from the conference.

Gates’ sentiment — appreciation for recent innovations and advancements in healthcare paired with optimism for what’s to come — emerged as a theme this week, heard in investor presentations, at informal Q&A sessions, and from friendly chatter at evening receptions.

If forward-looking, eyes to the near and distant future, was the primary theme, there were a few overarching topics that also drove the headlines.

1. AI: Bringing predictive analytics and machine learning to the next level.

Companies like Castlight have been harnessing the power of predictive analytics and machine learning to deliver increasingly personalized healthcare experiences. While we’ve done so in employer healthcare space, others have used these same technologies to improve the healthcare experience for providers and patients throughout the market. Now, the discussion is buzzing around the next step for this kind of technology – AI. From those already offering different AI products and services, to the incubating ideas of what it could become, everyone’s thinking about how they can get smarter about artificial intelligence.

2. Deals: Coming together to take on new challenges and offer new solutions.

Deals aren’t anything new at JPM. But just as Castlight came together with Jiff last year, this week saw companies across healthcare coming together with those in their own sector or other parts of the industry. Some deals may fall under the “bigger is better” category of mergers and acquisitions. However, many others are driven by a similar desire to our own: two organizations coming together to better address a healthcare need, and deliver even more valuable solutions. It’s exciting to see what comes of the deals announced this week.

3. Data + Engagement: Digital health will take the next step through engagement  

One idea that stretched across topics of conversation was patient, or consumer, engagement. While digital healthcare, tools, and services have long relied on patient or consumer data to power them, unlocking the true value of these technologies will come from engagement. This idea applies to continually engaging patients to better manage their chronic condition or to 23andMe’s offering their customers the choice to contribute their genetic data to medical research for the greater good (85 percent do!). At Castlight, we buy into the power of engagement to impact both primary measures in healthcare: quality and cost.

One leaves JPM week impressed by the feats of medicine, technology, and innovation taking place around the healthcare industry. I am happy that we got to contribute to the dialogue around that last week, and that Castlight will continue to advance our own healthcare navigation solutions to better serve employers and their employees.