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The Big Story: JPM 2024 – What to expect from the San Francisco conference

“Thousands of healthcare leaders will descend on San Francisco next week for the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference to discuss some of the industry’s most pressing topics, ranging from artificial intelligence and Medicare Advantage enrollment to health systems’ investment strategies…While labor pressures are easing, many providers are still grappling with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which dented volumes and exacerbated workforce shortages.”

Healthcare’s Capistrano

By David Jarrard

3-minute read

Like the swallows’ yearly return to Capistrano, executives across healthcare’s spectrum – pharma tech, providers and more – will again flock to San Francisco this week to hear from industry leaders, discern the flow of investment dollars, read the room, test the waters and check the gut.

Mostly, though, they will talk to each other. There’s a lot of visiting, which has become the point of the whole thing for many, if not most. As veterans will tell you, while the official presentations are often good, the conversations in those stuffed hallways and around the jammed cocktail tables are better. In fact, it’s the reason they attend.

Why? To be in the presence of one another, to be physically seen and heard, to be in person to make their case, eye to eye. It’s the personal touch that attracts leaders and would-be-risers to San Francisco every January. Old connections connecting, new ones being forged, introductions abounding, networks lighting up.

For all the smart focus (and massive money flowing to) AI and digital and telemedicine services that will be discussed this week, for all the Zoom calls that will consume the calendar in the days ahead, the gift of a private moment with another, the handshake and the clinked glass, is gold. Indeed, it has never been more valuable.

It’s true at the JP Morgan colloquy. And it’s true, well, everywhere. Including your organization.

Likely chatter this year? Probably talk of deal volume (it was down last year), and regulators’ increasingly critical eyes on consolidation. Plus, the growing movement towards “value” and a stronger focus on internal structures for private-equity-backed providers.  Dare we add employee engagement and culture as mission-critical talent retention plays? Yes, we will.

In case you missed it, last week, leaders of our Health Services Practice shared on our High Stakes podcast their insights on likely trends in ‘24 for these innovative companies. This week, our team will be in the JPM swirl, listening to check our predictions on how others think last year’s blend of forces might play out for investors and health services companies moving forward. Specifically, we’ll be asking…

  • Is 2024 the year for value-based care? Successful organizations will have a strong and clear value proposition, explaining exactly how they approach delivery of care. The transition to risk-bearing models carries, well, risk. So, it will be important for providers to be clear about the financial pressures when positioning themselves in their markets. And how much progress has been made with non-traditional models of care such as hospital-at-home taking cost out of the system?
  • Will the shift to value spawn creative marriages between acute and non-acute providers? What are PE-backed organizations looking for in those partnerships and how are they structuring the collaboration? How does each type of organization achieve its highest and best while creating systems for others to step in and do the same?
  • How great is the interest in adopting AI in healthcare delivery? PE-backed and non-acute providers are often on the cutting edge of innovation, whether it’s novel models of care delivery or tech to streamline back-office processes. How far will artificial intelligence penetrate either, or both, of these areas? In addition, who will be joining big names like Intermountain Health and Cleveland Clinic – who will have representatives presenting on stage – to lead the charge, how will providers partner with Big Tech and, of course, how is the industry thinking about the risks now that we have a good year of AI under our belts?
  • How will investors and health services companies adjust the dial between same-store vs. acquisitive growth? With deal volume down last year, we observed a shift in focus toward same-store – maximizing each facility or practice or service line rather than bringing in new ones. Maximizing the success of every project, as it were. It’s not an either-or proposition, of course, so we’ll be listening to hear where the industry expects to find equilibrium.
  • Has culture evolved to a must vs. a nice-to-have? How much focus will there be on internal engagement, company culture and retention? How will that emphasis be turned outward into how the brand is portrayed externally, both for patients and potential employees? It’s about giving people within the organization every tool, opportunity and motivation for success and commitment to patient care.
  • How will investor-backed organizations address questions about the quality of their care? Do studies critical of PE’s role in healthcare indicate the need for a sector-wide response? Or does this simply come down to individual provider organizations providing excellent care?
  • Finally, if investor-backed organizations do all the above – extending their conversion to value-based care, ramping up integration of AI, turning inward and emphasizing culture and retention, how will all of it feed into improved quality of care and patient experience? And will that, in turn, help this sector of the industry respond to and address concerns that have come up or may in the future?
  • Bonus: What’s the deal with all of the cybersecurity incidents?

Stay tuned next week for a recap of all things conversation-worthy from the big confab. Or, at least a few takeaways. And do look for Jarrard leaders Hollie Adams and Ellis Metz if you happen to be in those crowded hallways.