Events Industry Insights

Key Takeaways from HIMSS21 for Life Sciences Organizations


Healthcare technology innovators descended on Las Vegas during the week of August 8 to collaborate, learn and “be the change” at HIMSS21, the health information and technology conference that connects healthcare professionals throughout the global health ecosystem.

In the aftermath of a year that resulted in all industries turning to digital solutions, HIMSS21 was especially engaging as the healthcare industry looks to the long-term effects of a pandemic-impacted world. The innovations that will stick directly correlate to the value these solutions bring to the healthcare industry’s stakeholders and whether the innovation is a scalable and trusted addition to the patient-life sciences organization relationship.

Here are our key takeaways from HIMSS21 for life sciences organizations:

Digital solutions support our industry’s goal of getting the right drug to the right patient at the right time

When deciding what digital solutions to utilize or invest in, healthcare providers, payers and life sciences organizations should shift their mindsets to evaluate the solution against this industry goal. Patients face affordability, adherence and education hurdles that prevent them from accessing or adhering to therapy. Digital solutions are a key component to a commercialization plan that results in getting the right drug to the right patient at the right time to improve patient outcomes.

The digital solutions that help healthcare providers understand their patient’s coverage and affordability, help navigate access hurdles such as prior authorizations, and provide both patients and healthcare providers with the information they need when, where and how they wish to access it are the solutions that will make the biggest impact.

Healthcare providers have transitioned to a home-centric care model

Over the last year, patient care has become decentralized – with patients taking appointments from home and staff pivoting to remote work where possible. Healthcare providers are finding more ways to deliver care in the home via telemedicine, patient monitoring, etc. This is a shift to a “treat patients where they are at” model, which requires healthcare innovators to create solutions that “meet patients where they are at.”

Education, adherence and clinical services that support patient treatment should therefore be supported by technology that allows patients to access these services at their point of need. Incorporating texting, video conferencing and online resources are just some of the ways the industry can adjust its delivery model to meet patient needs.

Innovation is a constant focus

We see a lot of innovation in our industry, and healthcare technology companies often operate with a “speed of innovation” mindset to meet market demand. While innovative services can set a life sciences organization apart in the market, it’s important to be able to demonstrate how these technologies improve outcomes with hard data and analytics.

The unmet needs of patients drive life sciences organizations’ prioritization of investment in digital solutions. Technology, therefore, should solve for the challenges patients are facing. As an industry, healthcare technology often builds solutions looking for a problem, and while some will be ready when the challenge hits (telehealth), most solutions should be built to solve for current problems.

In a session titled, “What do patients want from pharma,” AstraZeneca and WEGO Health presented statistics from a survey asking about patient preferences. When asked what type of support is most likely to motivate patients to share their personal health data with a life sciences organization, 86% of patients surveyed said they were willing to share their information; 46% of those patients stated that help with disease management was the type of support they most wanted.

Healthcare innovators and life sciences organizations need to build and invest in solutions that patients are looking for – as these solutions will make the biggest impact on differentiating brands while improving outcomes for the patient. This way, life sciences organizations earn the trust of their patients by helping them understand their shared goal of connecting for better outcomes.

Data, interoperability and bi-directional communication are differentiators

We (as a market) must be activated toward a shared vision and solution to create transparency and success for patients through data visibility and access. The expectation is that technology partners need to provide data curation, data aggregation and resulting insights back to life sciences organizations.

Further, a flexible and modular solution provides a leg up from a manufacturer perspective. When the alternative is utilizing multiple vendors or a platform with limited integration capabilities, the solution that speeds access to patients, healthcare providers and data – and enables multiple points of access – enables utilization. Solutions that are better for stakeholder success are better for patients in the end. 

Contrary to what you’d expect from a healthcare technology conference, we found that in the end, it’s less about technology. Trust, value and scale in partnerships with pharma will get technology innovation beyond the pilot.

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