Q&A: HLTH founder Jon Weiner discusses ‘the future of healthcare’

Since 2011, Jon Weiner’s career has been largely focused on founding companies that organize the largest events in various industries. His work began with Money20/20 and grew to include Shoptalk in 2015. Now, Weiner has set his sights on the healthcare industry, with HLTH: The Future of Healthcare set to take place at the Aria in Las Vegas from May 6-9 2018. The event will feature more than 300 speakers and more than 200 CEOs and company founders from all areas of healthcare — including payers, pharmaceutical companies, health start-ups and investors.

As he readies for the event, Drug Store News caught up with Weiner to discuss why now is the time for a conference like HTLTH, what sets it apart from other healthcare industry events and the role innovation can play in the healthcare space.

Drug Store News: You’ve founded similar innovation events for the fintech and retail worlds. Tell us a little bit about your background and why you saw this as the right time to bring people together to talk about “the future of healthcare.” 

JW: Both Money 20/20 and Shoptalk really filled the void on what was lacking across the fintech and retail categories.  I was able to grow Money 20/20 from 1,000 attendees to over 10,000 attendees in a really short time frame and Shoptalk just celebrated passing the 5,000-attendee mark in just its second year.  As I mentioned earlier, healthcare was another industry where a better dialogue and community building could be formed. 

As for my own background, I’m currently the founder, chairman and CEO at HLTH and the founder of Money20/20, which organizes the world’s largest consumer payments and FinTech events and Shoptalk, which organizes the world’s most important events for retail and e-commerce innovation.

Before Money20/20 and Shoptalk, I was the global head of Google Wallet & Payments Business Development at Google, which I joined following Google’s 2012 acquisition of my VC-backed start-up, TxVia. I’m also a venture partner at Oak HC/FT, a $1 billion growth equity venture fund.

DSN: Tell us a little bit about HLTH -- what is it, and how is it different from the many other conferences and trade shows for the healthcare industry?

JW: HLTH (without the vowels) is a brand-new industry event that is reshaping healthcare discussions and the ecosystem as a whole. What I saw developing at other healthcare conferences was a huge gap around discussions that involved innovations in healthcare. HLTH will change that by inviting senior leaders across the ecosystem, (including payers, providers, employers, start-ups, pharma, investors, government and media), provide exclusive networking opportunities and become a catalyst for the community on how to reduce costs while improving quality of care.

DSN: In your program guide, you say that HLTH is helping "to break down silos" and "disrupt the status quo" in health care...Talk to us about what that means -- how would you describe the vision behind HLTH and/or the overarching mission of the event? How is HLTH uniquely suited to help foster the kind of dialogue and idea sharing that will help move healthcare forward?

JW: Great question. A lot of the events today simply miss the mark on building a valuable forum to exchange ideas. Many healthcare conferences attract too many attendees from a single area of the ecosystem, creating an unbalanced platform for discussion. HLTH is rewriting that playbook and breaking down those silos, by pulling in key industry senior level stakeholders from payers, providers, employers, government, pharma, investors and innovative start-up organizations. You can begin to see this balancing occur through our confirmed listing of speakers today.

If I had to sum up the vision or mission of HLTH, it would be to create a catalyst for our industry. HLTH will illuminate the most promising innovations available and ignite the most passionate conversations necessary for healthcare to finally tackle the unsustainable trends of higher costs, sicker citizens, and unacceptable inequities in access to quality care. HLTH will be addressing the innovation gaps the health industry has when it comes to providing consumers with the kinds of information, tools and choices they are used to having in other areas of their lives, such as when shopping, banking or traveling.  HLTH will highlight transformational technologies available to modernize our aging healthcare infrastructure. In short HLTH will expose new thinking, new solutions, and new strategies to deliver on the promise of the “Triple Aim” : Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); Improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

HLTH is uniquely suited to foster this dialogue by providing a forum where 2,000+ senior leaders have a chance to meet and discuss challenges and opportunities across 4 days. We are essentially cultivating a community that are passionate about building a better system for all.

DSN: Who is HLTH for? Who should attend and what can they expect to get out of it?

JW: HLTH was created for those who wish to improve the healthcare ecosystem and are no longer satisfied with the status quo and simply remaining on the sidelines while consumers are largely ignored. 

Talk about the agenda — what are some important highlights and/or key topics/speaker’s attendees can look forward to?

DSN: What would you say are some of the crucial factors that are creating the room for innovation in the healthcare space?

JW: The first one that sticks out across the news cycle is the use of technology.  We’re seeing a lot of new start-ups in the space as well as major players like Apple trying to figure out ways to integrate consumer health data with their platforms. Technology has the real potential of creating new drugs, diagnostic methods and even new devices.

The other area that I’m keeping an eye on is consumer benefits. We’re all in a constant time crunch with our lives and very few have the time during the day to research every little sentence in our employer’s medical plans. Innovations in making medical plans more user-friendly while providing more control over their personal health care spending would be a win-win in my book.

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