How Healthy is Digital Health? Top 3 Takeaways from VIVE 2024

By Jason Taylor, SVP of Growth

Having spent the four days meeting with executives from health systems and health IT vendors at #VIVE2024, it’s clear that the excitement and enthusiasm for digital health is very strong – with a few clear caveats.

Last week, wrote about the value of in-person conferences in healthcare and why they’re here to stay. From craving a human connection to having a dedicated space to learn, ViVE delivered!

Amazing Energy Levels

There was an inescapable buzz to the event, whether it was the sessions, the exhibit floor, the hallway chats, or even the countless social opportunities.  But there was a rare theme – people were not only talking about the discussions they had, but also the sessions they sat in. The content was front and center everywhere I went.

Speaking of Content…

The agenda was both packed and amazing.  I struggled with the agenda, because the topics were very timely, and the speakers were exactly the leaders and experts we need to hear from.  I had several conflicts about which one to pick. ViVE organizers, if you’re reading this: Can we see these sessions on demand?


Nobody shares like healthcare.  There is truly a sense of purpose that spans across the field, and it shows in its leaders.  Ideas are made public, experiences (good and bad) are shared, and people build relationships based on all serving common goals.  The opportunity to take part in some discussions with and between IT and digital leaders from health systems of all sizes — and watching people genuinely try to help each other — is unparalleled in other industries.


What can we all learn from VIVE?

Here are some themes I captured from my discussions:

Digital and IT Executives are Busier than Ever

Leaders in all roles across health systems are feeling the crunch.  Operational ‘willingness’ to invest in digital health is expanding, and the pressures from business to implement new solutions are growing more quickly than ever, and yet budgets are being more tightly scrutinized, and priority is being put on a very short list of issues.

The number of innovations is as high as ever before, and health systems lack the time and resources to research and investigate every possible thing, creating a trade-off between speed and risk.  In Panda Health’s Tipping Point report from December, we explored how some systems have had a few failed investments and are wary of taking on more risk.

Solutions that are easier to explain, have stronger links to overall health system goals, and a clear ROI are likely to get the lion’s share of attention this year.

People Love the Tech, but are Wary About Jumping in Quickly

VIVE was packed with solutions leveraging AI – but a lot lacked clarity in either what the end value would be, or more commonly, HOW a health system, with its myriad of disconnected data sources, strict ITSec and legal considerations, and wide ranges of stakeholders, could position to leverage it.

Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, I heard:

“It feels a bit like Bitcoin, everyone is trying too hard to convince me to jump into AI but they can’t always give me real answers on how it’s going to help me.”

“We still find ways to keep paging and faxes relevant, and build tech around propping them up, instead of replacing them.  Why do we think we can jump all the steps with AI?”

“I’m more worried about how to arrange my data to even support AI – and don’t get me started on how we’d create an LLM with all of our unstructured content.”

There will, as always, be early adopters who find ways to get things done – but the bulk of health systems are more conservative and will wait to see evidence of success before they shift investments to new technologies.

There’s a Growing Divide Between Vendors who ‘Get it’ and Those who Have ‘Lost the Mission’

Leaders in healthcare are primarily mission-driven.  They understand the impact of the work, and they know we all are here to serve patients and drive better outcomes.  It’s one of the reasons that people frequently take less money to work in this space.

I heard several industry leaders this week saying that the rapid growth in digital health companies has also included groups of technology-first approaches who saw healthcare as an opportunity to grow their product, or to make money by getting a share of the vast amount spent on technology.

These companies are not always doing a great job of understanding either the business of healthcare, or the all-important goal of serving patients.

My prediction is that digital health companies who truly focus on the impact that health systems can have through adopting new solutions  will earn more trust — and be part of more meaningful conversations — as we all work together to try to make our industry better.

Digital Health is Thriving

Taken all together, I think the appetite for new solutions and technology interventions is strong across all health systems.  Leaders are making the investment in learning, collaborating, and researching how they can innovate.

But the rules are changing.  Health systems are focused on making more thoughtful decisions about the solutions they choose and the companies that they partner with — and the digital health companies that can adapt and drive true value in those partnerships are best positioned to succeed.