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January 18, 2023 //  //       //  Opinion

#CES2023: Three Themes That Dominated the Growing Digital Health Track

This year’s CES was a whirlwind – from the months of planning and execution around client activities to being surrounded by 100,000 fellow conference-goers – and I was blown away by the exciting technologies that have so much potential to change the world. I spent most of my time on the show floor of the Digital Health track, as this year represented the event’s most robust health programming to date with both a large industry presence and extensive expert speakers.  

If you’re in the healthcare or life sciences industry and wondering if CES is relevant to you, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” In fact, we’ve found placing our health clients at unexpected outside-industry events like CES is one of the best ways to garner media attention and drive new company narratives. In case you need further convincing health has a place in the world’s largest consumer technology show, here are the three themes I observed at this year’s event that align with our industry’s advancements and key areas of focus.  

Theme No. 1: Empowering Consumers and Bringing Care to Their Doorsteps 

Much of the care that used to be given in the doctor’s office continues to make its way into the home. A common theme across the consumer technologies displayed at CES reflected consumers’ universal desire to not only take charge of their health, but also to do so within their own homes and in their daily lives. For example, multiple companies exhibited at-home urinalysis hardware that tracks users’ vitals and uploads them into an app for easy reference. These technologies currently track things like pH and nutrient levels, but the various companies displaying these innovations promised more clinical use cases, such as bladder cancer marker detection in the future. Another technology that stood out was a “smart” baby bottle that automatically adjusts to the optimal flow for newborns and tracks feeding patterns, unlocking insights that could potentially save a busy parent a call or visit to the pediatrician.  

This connection to the home and emphasis on gathering health data as consumers go about their everyday lives was particularly compelling, with many technologies displaying the ability to collect this information in the background on phones or other devices. Assuming it is appropriately protected (data privacy is an important industry issue and could be its own blog post!), this data is as useful — or potentially more useful in some cases — than data collected in the lab setting and could allow physicians to further personalize treatments and ultimately deliver better health outcomes.   

Theme No. 2: Personalized Medicine Is Fast Becoming a Reality  

Speaking of personalization, a major highlight of the programming was Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel’s fireside chat with Dr. Steve Klasko of General Catalyst. The conversation recapped the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, with Bancel explaining how Moderna’s platform technology has the promise to significantly decrease the drug development life cycle — not just for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, but for all the products currently in Moderna’s pipeline. He then explained how Moderna uses the same mRNA platform technology it used for the COVID-19 vaccine to develop vaccines tailored to individual patients’ cancers.  

Other sessions and product innovations also emphasized the promise of personalized medicine. The at-home digital health innovations mentioned above can supplement the expertise patients receive at the doctors’ office. There was also a lot of excitement at CES about how AI and other technologies can alleviate a physician’s workload while enabling better care delivery through personalized patient insights. 

Imagine the possibilities when data, workflows and treatments all become personalized, not just to specific populations, but to individual patients.  

Theme No. 3: Interoperability Remains Health Tech’s Biggest Challenge 

As exciting as it was to witness these innovations and to learn about the promise of personalized medicine, those who are part of the larger health ecosystem know we have an equal number of challenges to overcome as exciting developments to celebrate. 

One particularly illustrative anecdote was shared in a session around AI and the future of patient care from the Immediate Past Chair of the American Medical Association Dr. Bobby Mukkamal. He described how even as his wife performs advanced surgeries that involve robotics, she continues to use a fax machine to share patient documents — illuminating just how far we still have to go to achieve seamless health information sharing outside the world of wearables and smart appliances. There was a stark contrast between the technologies on the show floor and the buzz they created about the future, and the caution with which experts in the digital health track sessions discussed the potential for truly connected care.  

Whether your company makes the wearables that garnered so much excitement or the “less sexy” backend technologies needed to facilitate deeper data sharing in healthcare, the A+P team would love to chat about how we can support and evolve your narrative.  

Visit our health tech microsite to learn more about how we support earned-first storytelling!  

Bridget Mahoney is a senior account executive based in New York, where she supports A+P’s Health clients’ corporate storytelling through executive visibility strategy and media relations efforts. 


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