The HLTH Conference kicks off: What you need to know

The fifth annual event is drawing thousands of healthcare leaders and innovators to Las Vegas.

It’s only five years old, but the HLTH Conference has emerged as a big deal in healthcare.

“It’s still a startup, but it has seen enormous growth,” said Janna Guinen, executive director of the HLTH Foundation, the nonprofit arm of HLTH.

The HLTH Conference begins today here in Las Vegas and runs through Wednesday, Nov. 16. Guinen talked with Chief Healthcare Executive about HLTH (pronounced “health”).

More than 9,500 people are expected to attend the conference, but the organizers aren’t just concerned about the crowd size.

“We’re more focused on who attends, rather than the raw number,” Guinen said. “It really is a c-suite level event.”

The conference also offers a diverse mix of seminars and meeting opportunities for providers, life sciences companies, innovation teams, employers and emerging technology companies.

More than 300 people will speak at the event. Some of the speakers include Greg A. Adams, chair and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare, Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and more.

HLTH has worked to bring more diversity to the conference as well. This year, women account for 53% of the speakers at HLTH, and 37% of those speaking are people of color. “This has been a concerted effort,” Guinen said.

This year, HLTH also is giving a greater emphasis on patients. Guinen said some of those attending are patients who can offer their knowledge - in very personal ways - to healthcare leaders and those developing technology solutions aimed at improving patient care.

Patients will be sharing their perspectives with providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies. Guinen said the hope is that it leads to more patient-centered care.

“Patients are the one and only reason in healthcare,” Guinen said. “They’re not present enough in conversations about healthcare and innovation.”

“The whole point of all of this is to get healthcare executives the opportunity to hear from patients and place patients alongside industry executives as experts,” she added. “They can speak to their experience… they deserve to be equal partners in healthcare innovation.”

HLTH also features curated matchmaking, which Guinen likened to speed dating, between startups and investors. The conference can offer valuable opportunities for both sides.

“It’s important for startups to get that face time and for investors to get to see that diamond in the rough,” Guinen said.

For the first time, HLTH is also presenting “Well by HLTH”, with a focus on consumer-focused health and wellness, including fitness, nutrition, mental health, sleep health, and sexual health.

Partnering with Mercer, HLTH is also offering the “Employer Experience” and will connect employers with leaders from across the healthcare ecosystem. The program will focus on value, wellness, and closing disparities in healthcare.

HLTH is growing beyond its annual conference. Partnering with College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), HLTH also organized the inaugural VIVE conference, an event aimed at digital healthcare leaders, earlier this year.

HLTH is also boosting its digital content as well, including webinars, blogs and podcasts. The organization is aiming to connect with people outside of the big annual events.

“We’ve really tried to think about how to help them and give them opportunities to interact beyond those few days of the year,” Guinen said.

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Look for Chief Healthcare Executive’s coverage of HLTH throughout the conference.

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