We knew this in-person gathering of the EWC was going to be significant – that’s why we took seven members of our team, including our newest member, Diane Winnemuller. Diane is our strategic business coordinator and has an extensive background in big data. We thought we’d turn the show round-up over to her. She had some significant observations as someone with a “fresh eye” on this specific industry. – Bryan Firestone
The networking started immediately at the Get Acquainted reception that U.S. HealthTek sponsored, and we were glad to be part of such a big turnout. Everyone was excited to be there face-to-face for the first time in over two years, and as you walked around you could see and hear so many connections and essential conversations that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.
It turned out that was just the beginning.
The next day started with a breakfast, and a brilliant talk by Robert Michel of The Dark Report. He spoke about the “great resignation” and what that looks like at the 30,000-foot level and what the future of our business in general could look like.
Next came a highlight: Lâle White’s talk, “Consumers, Retail Pharmacies, and Big Data: New Market Dynamics Poised to Reshape Who Orders and Pays for Clinical Lab Services and Genetic Tests.” Lâle is Executive Chairman and CEO of XIFIN (and also a friend, colleague, and client of U.S. HealthTek). Just one of her topics was the disturbing trend of “healthcare deserts” – smaller, rural communities who are either seeing their regional hospitals and healthcare facilities shut down or never had good access doctors to begin with.
Lâle also touched on the fact that while Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) lab work was trending prior to COVID, the pandemic accelerated it. It all adds up to an increase in demand, and pharmacies are stepping up to meet some basic needs of the consumer beyond getting tested and vaccinated . Unusual solutions are being arrived at too –how about getting your blood work at a local discount store? Maybe a General Dollar one? Then there are how the big boxes like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are getting deeper into the full-scale healthcare business, sans doctors.
This session (like so many others) centered around data. Lâle pointed out that capturing, harnessing, understanding, and sharing the data is going to be critical to every lab wanting to thrive in this new marketplace. Suppliers now include all the lab startups that became prevalent because of COVID, and now they need to pivot and reinvent themselves. Some are considering a pivot to “boutique lab services,” where consumers can get tested for food allergies, gut flora, genetics, and even nail funguses (hope you’re reading this after lunch). It was especially fascinating to me to learn about companies who are offering lab testing coupled with subscription models in the name of wellness and anti-aging products and solutions. And it’s all D2C.
Managing the Data Is Mission-Critical
What is the singularly common need for all of this? Managing data effectively and efficiently. I think the whole direction of D2C lab testing is fascinating, and it’s exciting that U.S. HealthTek provides assessments, implementation, and integration solutions for large and small clients (there were some exciting discussions on just that). We’re all about providing labs with a wide array of IT services, including data integration and interfacing, as the need for those won’t go away anytime soon. And we never forget that managing and harnessing data is not only critical to the business side, but also in improving healthcare outcomes in general.
It was interesting sharing notes with my colleague, Mike Pratt. He agreed it was a great show noting that “there was a lot of energy in the room from being in-person.” Compared to the one held in 2019, he added that there was much more willingness to introduce ourselves to each other and have meaningful discussions. People were willing to open the window to their reality and seek new opportunities to collaborate. As he noted, “it had less of a ‘sales’ aura this year and we were united on a mission to create a better healthcare environment overall.”
All of us would add that from an infrastructure perspective, the IT opportunity in general and for U.S. HealthTek specifically has never been greater. Historically, healthcare has viewed IT as a “necessary evil,” as some struggled to transfer from paper charts to EMRs. But look where we are today: cloud-based hosting, with limited down time and maximum up time, disaster recovery, interfacing – all the things that U.S. HealthTek has been implementing for years on every level.
The Future of Lab IT
Mike had another interesting point: “What’s most exciting is we’ll see product lines for this industry that don’t exist today, but we will create them to meet the demands of this ever-changing industry,” he said. “We all came away from EWC with an eye on the future and excited about the opportunities it’ll bring.”
As for me, I am grateful for the experience of getting to meet so many quality people. There are so many I look forward to staying in touch with, and I hope to grow those new relationships in the years to come. And while I knew it before I went to New Orleans, it was exciting to experience how U.S. HealthTek is just ahead of the game on all of this, on the forefront of the future of labs and the industry’s next exciting chapter.