Leaders, innovators, and advocates convened at HLTH 2022 in Las Vegas to discuss the future of health and trends transforming the healthcare industry. This was a memorable event for Verily, as we joined sister Alphabet companies in a significant exhibit presence and dialogue alongside fellow healthcare visionaries. We left energized and inspired. Here are a few highlights from our leaders who took the stage.

The power of data and its value in community public health 

Verily is a key collaborator on the Stanford University and Emory University-led WastewaterSCAN initiative – a nationwide program helping community public health teams monitor infection trends for COVID-19 variants, influenza, RSV, monkeypox and other pathogens. Verily’s industrial lab and data science capabilities support this infrastructure, helping local leaders make timely decisions about targeted health interventions.

During a Verily-produced panel, “How Data and Evidence Power Precision Health,” Ben Yaffe, Verily’s head of special projects, used the recent MPXV infection spike as an example of this sentinel passive monitoring system’s value. “Timely, actionable data informed public health departments in Northern California in their response to local MPXV threats. This data is a sample of the community, including those unable to get or unwilling to seek testing, reducing biases in the data. This is a blueprint of how data, technology and infrastructure can provide community health leaders with information to support intervention strategies and front-line health care providers data representing a more precise cross-section of their community.”

The value of high-tech, high-touch

Technology can support clinicians in comprehensively capturing data to show a more complete picture of health, helping to reveal the most impactful areas to treat. Technology's ability to leverage timely data can also help when mental health concerns coexist with chronic disease. In his panel “The Pendulum of Mental Health,” Dr. Washington discussed the importance of mental health:

“In the world of cardiometabolic disease, you’re twice as likely to have a diagnosis of depression. We also know we’re not going to make people better with their diabetes until we address those underlying drivers – what motivates them? What helps them get up and take those medications or do that exercise? The primary care provider and the mental health professional need to both be at the table – it’s really a collaborative approach.”

How can we make it easier for people to engage? 

Good solutions provide the most value when they make people’s lives easier. From the researcher to the research participant, from the data scientist to the clinical sites manager, to the customer — everyone touching a product has a journey to consider. Dr. Washington talked about the importance of building solutions that are easier for patients to adopt:

“What we are requiring of patients in their time of need is often inversely proportional to their ability to participate. How do you make the right thing, the easy thing, so that the requirements to participate in care don’t place an additional burden on the patient's shoulders?”

Being there for people in the moments that matter 

During her panel, "The Broken Trust Between Public and Health,” Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD, discussed building trust in digital health solutions by "leveraging the best of user experience and design to not only build understanding and trust, but also make it so that [each individual] has the information they need, the moment they need it.”

When asked by the moderator on how we fix lost trust in healthcare now, Amy responded, “We need an infrastructure that helps build trust. Thinking about user experience, we need to design solutions so people can understand how a treatment or solution will work ‘in my life’”. She called on innovators in the audience to “think about user experience and design as a way of building trust.”

Patients as experts on their health

Keeping an ongoing dialogue with patients is another aspect of maintaining trust. As Vivian S. Lee, MD, PhD, MBA, said: “Eighty percent of healthcare can be co-produced between providers, clinicians, and patients. Maybe it looks like wearing your CGM, or gathering your blood sugars – [so] it will tell you when you take your meals how your sugars spike, and maybe you can do all of that in addition to working with clinicians.” She referred to Verily’s partnership with Dexcom where they have co-developed one of the smallest, most discreet Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems, which was made commercially available this fall in Europe.

The road ahead: from evidence generation to precision care 

Dr. Abernethy summed up Verily’s perspective during our Precision Health panel explaining that longitudinal data tells the story of our lives over time. She said that Verily is well-positioned to advance innovations from evidence generation to population health to precision care, creating a bridge between research and care, anchored in individual data.