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2023 is the most disruptive year healthcare has experienced in quite a while. Between the emergence of generative AI and GLP-1 medications, these two disrupters are challenging the industry’s perceptions on risks, opportunities, costs and responsibility. The Lark team took a minute to reflect on our first half of the year and share some insights we’ve been observing at events or webinars we attended, in industry publications, or simply, conversations we’re having with our peers. While it’s always tricky to figure out which trends are sustainable and which ones will fade, here are a few we think are going to stick around for the long run. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Of all the 2023 trends, AI technology is the one that the healthcare industry is most cautious about. And rightfully so. AI is new, powerful and relatively unknown in regards to how the technology works. All the horror stories that came out as ChatGPT emerged doesn’t help the perception of AI either. 

However, we are seeing that health plans are curious and open to the opportunities AI can provide. The industry is navigating best practices and responsible ways to implement AI technologies, while early adopters are looking for solutions and partners to help mitigate the safety, privacy and accuracy risks the technology is prone to producing. 

It’s fair to say we’re a bit biased when it comes to this trend. Lark has been at the forefront of conversational AI for the past decade and over 2.5 million members have accessed our AI health coaches. I’m personally excited that AI is finally being debated and accepted more broadly in healthcare. We'll continue to look towards new ways to use this technology to scale access to care, while safely navigating the challenges that come along with the adoption of new technologies for us and our healthcare partners.

Health Equity

Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health1— and health equity is a big initiative for health plans this year. By prioritizing health equity, health plans are striving to eliminate disparities in healthcare access and improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes for their entire member population, especially those in hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, this emphasis on health equity initiatives demonstrates that addressing social determinants of health, like income, education, race and ethnicity are important factors for a member’s overall experience with their health plan.

By implementing policies and technology that address the root causes of health disparities, health plans can reduce the burden of disease, increase preventative care and enhance health outcomes for marginalized populations. This in turn empowers individuals to take charge of their health, resulting in reduced healthcare costs. 

Bonus! If you want to learn more about the intersection of AI and Health Equity for Employers, check out our eBook

Personalized Member Experience 

“One-size-fits-all” approaches to an individual’s health journey are a thing of the past. Encompassing every touchpoint from enrollment to ongoing care management and support, the member experience is a critical component for improving STAR/CAHPS/NPS ratings. And “personalization” is the method health care providers are using to improve their member experiences. 

Every health journey is unique and members expect to be treated as individuals. When members feel valued, understood and supported in their own individual health journeys, they are more likely to participate in their own care, leading to improved health outcomes and lower healthcare costs for both the members and the health plan. 

Personalization was a core area of emphasis when developing Lark. “The ability for a digital solution, using and leveraging the technology and the data, to really get as specific as possible to the unique needs of that individual is going to help keep them engaged and help drive those outcomes,” Dr. Peter Antall, Chief Medical Officer and President, Medical Networks at Lark Health.

GLP-1 Medications

It would be impossible to write this article and not mention GLP-1 medications. Historically, it’s rare that medications originally designed to help manage chronic diseases become consumer weight-loss wonder drugs overnight, but here we are.

While we don’t know the long-term results or potential complications of these drugs, we have seen unprecedented consumer demand since they came into the spotlight. For employers and health plans, GLP-1 medications present numerous cost issues and organizations will need help navigating this landscape. Lark’s core capabilities have always been focused on the prevention and management of chronic conditions, including diabetes, so we’re excited to be a responsible partner and help our clients drive the best health and financial outcomes for their members and employees.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a little more info on how we can help your organization’s GLP-1 strategy.

Final Thoughts

Despite these trends being presented as their own list items, in reality, they’re all closely connected. Plans focused on expanding their health equity initiatives will benefit from AI health coaching that can be accessed 24/7, anytime, anywhere, and provides clinically valid care for their entire member population. Plus, AI health coaches can reduce biases some people might have about traditional care processes.

Same goes for a personalized member experience. Members expect a modern, innovative care experience and AI health coaching customized for each individual are a great start to improving this area. Plans can also benefit from a platform like Lark that is designed to activate and engage members in the critical 90 days from enrollment date. 

Lastly, health tech companies that can help employers and healthcare providers manage demand and costs for GLP-1 medications, while still providing the aforementioned benefits, are going to be the responsible partners helping to lead the industry forward.

1https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/whatis/index.html#:~:text=Many%20populations%20experience%20health%20disparities,English%20proficiency%2C%20and%20other%20groups.

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

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