‘Life in the Fast Lane’ – a Recap of HLTH 2019

Gary Earl and Drew Komenda at HLTH 2019
As I reflect upon the resounding success of the recent 2019 HLTH Conference, I am awestruck by the incredible speed at which our health and well-being industry is accelerating and the ecosystem is developing.

It reminds me of a song from the 1970’s that may best describe what we are experiencing in the present:

Eager for action and hot for the game

The coming attraction, the drop of a name

They knew all the right people, they took all the right pills

They threw outrageous parties, they paid heavenly bills.

These iconic lyrics from the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” speak so well to what many of us experienced, discussed and drove (up and down this highway) while attending this extraordinary event in Las Vegas.

It appears that today’s leading health and well-being innovators, investors and influencers, as well as their pioneering creations and solutions, are emerging at near breakneck speed. This was evident in the energetic vibe, contagious conversations and resulting actions that arose from the 7,000+ passionate and purpose-driven pacesetters who contributed to this one-of-a-kind event. I was energized, personally and professionally.

Filled with hope, inspiration and aspiration, I discovered a newfound commitment to serve in what I’m confident will be a major shifting of gears in our collective efforts to increase the speed and intensity of improving the health, well-being and economics for individuals, companies and communities alike. I was “juiced” by how many courageous change agents demonstrated the value of creating positive momentum through new forms of innovation and impression. I believe the advancement of technology, blended with the diverse professional and personal backgrounds and experiences of those leading the transformation effort, will ultimately revolutionize an aging system of care into a new, high-performing, improvement-based vehicle of positive impact for all. Working in a cohesive and integrated manner will allow us all to build better together, which is the most direct freeway to an environment of success, significance and sustainability.

As it relates to the fast-tracking topic of prescription drug costs (faster, faster, the lights are turning red), I was delighted to see that not only did this area of challenge and opportunity rise to center stage in many sessions and conversations, it was also reflected in the creative ways in which this complex component of the care system is being reshaped by simplicity-based and action-oriented movement.

No doubt there is urgent demand to accelerate efforts and gain control of the rising, unsustainable costs of prescription medications. There is also a need to improve upon supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry, increase quality and compliance standards, creatively adhere to shifting reforms, and modernize today’s perverse payment methodologies. What struck me, though, at HLTH were the creative ways that are unfolding to unpack and uncomplicate the entire confusing process and journey for the individual, thus increasing the patient-centric experience and ultimate outcomes.

This is why I was so moved by the unveiling of the Unite for Affordable Medicine campaign at HLTH. Aimed at making medication more affordable and the market more efficient, the campaign focuses on empowering pharmacy consumers and payers with information that leads to smarter decisions and better health outcomes for all. Compare this to all the inaction in Washington (Surely make you lose your mind) and its inability to deliver any relief for drug costs, and it makes even more sense.

I believe this contributes to a profound force for good that will be unleashed in our country. As I stood in front of the massive Rx Savings Solutions wall dedicated to this proclamation at HLTH and read the tweets from past U.S. Presidents weighing in on drug prices (e.g. George Washington: “I cannot tell a lie. Drug prices are terribly high. I implore my countrymen to take a hatchet to them.”), I was motivated by the commitment and creative efforts that encourage us all to join the party. This is what will help bring about the change that is so desperately needed.

HLTH brought us all closer together on what I see as a highway to a better healthcare system. Although the Eagles’ song from 1976 was born out of an intense desire to move people from procrastination to pure acceleration, it also hinted at pending disaster when we drive in the fast lane with little to no control (Blowin' and burnin', blinded by thirst. They didn't see the stop sign, took a turn for the worst...).

Today, however, we have more control over the future than ever before. Through artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the explosion of new information- and engagement-based technologies, all aimed at improving the human experience and outcomes, the once-dangerous curves of tomorrow will become the impetus for creating momentum and slingshot us into the powerful potential of the future.

Let’s embrace life in the fast lane, as the results will surely blow your mind.

Gary Earl has spent more than 38 years in an attempt to impact and improve health, well-being and economic conditions for individuals, companies and communities alike. He has served in executive leadership roles for organizations including CIGNA, Anthem BCBS and UHC, and was responsible for health and productivity at a number of major corporations including Caesars Entertainment Corporation. Gary currently serves as a key executive advisor for several emerging health technology companies, is co-founder of a national non-profit, and co-created and hosts the YouTube show, HLTH Matters.