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J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Spotlights Digital Transformation on Day One

Healthcare, digital transformation, HealthTech

Healthcare’s digital transformation took center stage during day one of J.P. Morgan’s annual healthcare conference

For the 42nd year in a row, J.P. Morgan has drawn around 10,000 attendees to its pivotal healthcare industry event in San Francisco, bringing together key players, innovators and investors to discuss the trends, breakthroughs and future prospects in healthcare and life sciences. 

And on Monday (Jan. 8) the integration of technology into healthcare systems was both the topic du jour and the go-forward strategy of choice. 

This, as Amazon used the J.P. Morgan conference to launch a new program designed to help individuals discover and enroll in virtual care benefits that are available to individuals through their employer or health plan at no extra cost; while Nvidia announced a series of new initiatives, including a collaboration with Amgen’s deCode to accelerate drug discovery using artificial intelligence (AI). 

“Amazon wants to make it easier for people to get and stay healthy, and part of that is making it easier to discover the products, services and professionals that can help them do that. Many people aren’t aware of the healthcare benefits they’re eligible for, that are typically no cost or subsidized by their employer or insurance plan,” said Aaron Martin, vice president of healthcare at Amazon. 

Omada Health, a virtual-first healthcare provider, is partnering with Amazon on the initiative, which is aimed toward Omada’s 20 million-strong employer and health plan customer audience. 

“This partnership is pivotal for Omada, as we are leveraging Amazon’s wide reach to literally meet consumers where they are, just as we do for our members as a virtual-first care provider,” said Omada Health CEO and Co-founder Sean Duffy. “Ultimately, the more people we’re able to reach, the larger impact we can have on the rising prevalence of chronic disease.”

As the digitization of healthcare continues, AI is set to play its own starring role. 

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Beto Casellas, executive vice president and CEO of health and wellness at Synchrony, told PYMNTS that the top trend to watch in 2024 is how technology and AI will impact the consumer experience.

And while the healthcare and government sectors led most of December’s job gains, Casellas noted that the persistent challenge of hiring and staffing issues in the U.S. economy — and particularly within healthcare — remains a focal point. 

Echoing that sentiment, Alexi Nazem, co-founder and CEO at Nomad Health, told PYMNTS: “There has been a widening gap between the demand for healthcare services and the supply of clinicians to deliver that care … We have an aging population in the United States, and people who are over 65 consume three times as much healthcare as people under the age of 65. People over the age of 75 consume four times as much healthcare … there aren’t enough nurses and doctors and other healthcare professionals to deliver all of that increased need of care.”

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan conference, Dennis Laraway, the chief financial officer for Cleveland Clinic, explained that workforce issues within healthcare are the “real crisis” that emerged from the pandemic, according to a FierceHealthcare report. 

To manage this, healthcare systems and major providers are increasingly turning to digital healthcare solutions that allow providers to adapt the composition of their workforce while still growing services to meet patient need as a way to mitigate ongoing labor challenges plaguing the sector, Cleveland Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic added, per the same report. 

With the lack of care providers leading to delays in patient appointments during which existing conditions can be exacerbated or grow worse, innovations like AI can play a crucial role by facilitating access to healthcare expertise and enabling cost-effective solutions. 

“Technology drives convenience and access, and that drives engagement. That’s what allows people to better utilize the healthcare system,” Neil Batlivala, co-founder and chief executive officer at Pair Team, told PYMNTS. 

Read also: Can AI Fix Healthcare’s Zettabyte-Sized Data Problem?

“Worldwide, very few people have access to doctors — and the opportunity to have an AI doctor, even if they have just 30%, 50% of an average provider’s knowledge and capability, is still a massive value add,” Beerud Sheth, CEO at conversational AI platform Gupshup, told PYMNTS in an interview posted in November.

Still, despite the potential benefits of AI in healthcare, PYMNTS Intelligence found that 60% of adults remain uncomfortable with the idea of AI-driven healthcare decisions. Surveyed concerns range from biases in AI algorithms to fears that AI may lead to worse outcomes. 

Separate research coming out of PYMNTS Intelligence also found that when it comes to digital healthcare, consumers living in urban areas continue to increase their engagement, but those in rural areas are beginning to pull back and return to more traditional methods.

Out of the nine digital healthcare activities tracked, rural consumers reported decreased engagement in seven categories year over year, while their urban counterparts increased engagement across all nine.

As for the rest of the J.P. Morgan conference, which runs from Jan. 8 through Jan. 11, the insurance giants Cigna Group and Centene Corp. are expected to discuss Medicare Advantage enrollment trends on Tuesday (Jan. 9); while GoodRx, Oscar Health, Alignment Healthcare and Headspace Health are presenting on Wednesday (Jan. 10); and Talkspace and Clover Health are speaking Thursday (Jan. 11), among other industry participants.