My takeaways from HLTH 2022

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s HLTH event in Las Vegas on Nov. 13-16, 2022.

#hlth2022 was the first time I had experienced an event at this scale with attendees that included more than just traditional healthcare/biotech players and investors. Attendance also included tech, consumer-focused wellness, and at a smaller capacity – patients and non-profits.

I congratulate the HLTH team for creating an event that acknowledges how we approach health is changing and that the tools and systems necessary to allow everyone the opportunity to be healthy goes beyond what health insurance traditionally covers. I hope the conversations at HLTH lead to more common language and openness for alignment on the scientific rigour necessary for a consumer product to be taken seriously by traditional health players.

Connecting key health stakeholders from diverse backgrounds is a significant step in the right direction, redefining what is considered “healthcare” and who pays for what is needed. Although consumer and retail products have value, affordability is still an issue, especially if payers are not considering these offerings for reimbursement. Many valuable solutions may never reach those who need them most due to the inability to pay out of pocket.

Further, more efforts are required to help improve benefits communication, patient and caregiver education, benefits communication, and guidance around coordinating whole health care. As discussed during the Sexual Healing panel – language matters – we need to meet individuals where they are. Creating complicated reimbursement schemes or unclear patient pathways further deters the engagement of high-need but historically marginalized individuals.

Reimaging healthcare requires greater awareness and more conversations around the inequities and barriers to access that exist to being healthy. I was happy to hear many talks at HTLH discuss inclusion, health equity and social determinants of health (SDOH). However, I found that much of the heavy lifting and progress around these initiatives still comes from female and minority-led start-ups, non-profits and government. Big healthcare, life sciences and tech need to step up and better support efforts through partnerships, acquisitions, and funding versus building lacklustre duplicates or “check the box on DEI” solutions.

For start-ups and capital providers, HTLH also confirmed that a course correction in funding is occurring. Although many blame COVID for creating a funding ecosystem that led to waste and significantly overvalued start-ups, this trend was already apparent in mid-2019. COVID only added fuel to this unfortunate trend.

I stepped away from consulting with digital health start-ups at the end of 2019 due to my frustration of encountering many organizations that had raised significant funds but were not incentivized or interested in genuinely moving the needle in healthcare. Instead, many start-ups chose to take the consumer route to hit early funding milestones. At this time, I opted to join Veeva for 2 years, a rare example of a Healthtech start-up that raised minimal cash ($7M total) and reached $1 billion in yearly revenue within thirteen years of its inception.

Moving forward, I hope fundraising becomes more intentional and investors take the time to build relationships with entrepreneurs and organizations closely tied to the communities they claim to serve. Further, due diligence needs to focus on more than just financial returns. Considering clinical outcomes, societal impact and addressing unmet needs are also important.

I commend HLTH for providing a platform for many aspects of health, including nutrition, sleep, sexual, mental and dental health. I also appreciate the diverse representation of individuals involved and impacted by the health industry, including rural communities, providers, caregivers, incarcerated individuals and athletes.

Thank you, CoverMyMeds, for the fantastic beauty station, Carrot Fertility for their free headshots, and for Brightside Health (I believe) for providing a hammock for an epic mid-event nap.

Where I struggled at HTLH was how much of the focus of networking and connection was around the consumption of alcohol and unhealthy food. I appreciate that there was a group exercise option offered early on Monday and Tuesday morning and some “wellness” features throughout the event. I would love to see more activities, happy hours and networking opportunities beyond drinks and mingling. I am happy to connect with any organizations interested in exploring this (check out Eat Move Meditate for inspiration).

Thank you, Jerrica Kirkley from PlumeScaleHealthRedesign HealthSamsung NextKomodo Health, and Paytient, for your hospitality and for creating space for intentional connection. Thank you to Matthew Holt, Melissa Faukner and the UCSF Health Hub Digital Health Awards team for helping me with my ticket.

I am grateful for the many insightful conversations with incredibly thoughtful and inspiring individuals throughout my time at HLTH.

Here’s to creating an abundance of intentional partnerships and collaborations in 2023 that allow for improved quality of life for all individuals and decrease the burden and cost of illness on society.

Attention to Details – Getting Lost in the Greenery 2022

Exploring gardens and neighbourhoods.
Wandering through forests and parks.

Buchart Gardens – Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
The Strand, Manhattan Beach, LA County, CA, USA
Durgas Tiger School of Tantra Yoga Arts Shamanism, Tumbaco, Pichincha, Ecuador
Mid-City, New Orleans, LA, USA – Check out Grow Dat Youth Farm if in the area
Joshua Tree, CA, USA
Moonwater Farm, Compton, CA, USA
Manus River Park, Stamford CT, USA

The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what “planets are squaring your moon.”
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to “hide it” or “fade it” or “fix it.”

I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to “be realistic” to “remember the limitations of being human.”

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

2022 Reading List

Here are the books I am planning to read in 2022. Additional titles will be added. What are you excited to read this year?

FICTION

  1. The SelloutPaul BeattyREAD April 2022
  2. Must Love Otters – Eliza Gordon – READ April 2022
  3. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – READ September 2022
  4. Fleishman is in TroubleTaffy Brodesser-AknerREAD August 2022
  5. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into ValuesRobert M. Pirsig
  6. Ready Player One Ernest Cline
  7. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
  8. Good Omens: The nice & accurate prophecies of Anges Nutter, Witch Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  9. LambChristopher Moore
  10. Walkaway Cory Doctorow
  11. Play it as it Lays Joan Didion

NON-FICTION

  1. The 4-Hour Work WeekTim FerrissREAD January 2022
  2. Tiny Beautiful ThingsCheryl StrandREAD May 2022
  3. Awakening: Conversations with the Masters Anthony de MelloREAD May 2022
  4. Untamed Glennon DoyleREAD May 2022
  5. Nice White Ladies – Jessie Daniels – READ October 2022
  6. I Feel Bad About my Neck – and other thoughts on being a womenNora Ephron
  7. Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir – Emma Forest
  8. Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That’s Lost Its Mind Jamie Wheal
  9. Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide Vasant Lad
  10. Sister Outsider: Essays and SpeechesAudre Lorde
  11. The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath Yogi Ramacharaka
  12. In the Land of Men: A Memoir Adrienne Miller
  13. Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates
  14. Golden Gates: The Housing Crisis and a Reckoning for the American DreamConor Dougherty
  15. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Charles Duhigg
  16. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Michelle Anderson
  17. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress CycleEmily Nagoski
  18. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the FuturePeter Thiel
  19. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice (Abolitionist Papers) Mariame Kaba
  20. High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That WayBrendon Burchard
  21. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion Jia Tolentino
  22. Sex at Dawn Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha
  23. Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  24. Invisible women: data bias in a world designed for menCaroline Criado Perez
  25. Personal next: what can we learn from elite athletes navigating career transitionMelinda Harrison
  26. Tribes Seth Godin
  27. Small is BeautifulE.F. Schumacher
  28. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World Cal Newport
  29. Broken Open – Elizabeth Lesser
  30. The Biology of BeliefBruce Lipton

How I Became a Madman (Prologue) by Kahlil Gibran

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,—the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,—I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”

Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the marketplace, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

Thus I became a madman.

And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

The Madman: His Parables and Poems. by Kahlil Gibran

Some of my Favourite Reads of 2020-2021

Reading is my preferred way of consuming stories and media.
Here’s a list of some favourite reads (in no particular order) of the past 2 years

FICTION

  1. 1Q84 Haruki Murakami *my favourite read of 2020
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
  3. My Sister, the Serial Killer: A NovelOyinkan Braithwaite
  4. Alchemist Paulo Coelho
  5. Conversations with Friends: A NovelSally Rooney
  6. The Night CircusErin Morgenstern
  7. White Teeth Zadie Smith
  8. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
  9. A Visit from the Goon SquadJennifer Egan
  10. The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe series Book 1)Raymond Chandler
  11. Less (Pulitzer Prize) – Andrew Sean Greer
  12. The Sympathizer (Pulitzer Prize)- Viet Thanh Nguyen
  13. Homegoing Yaa Gyasi
  14. Crazy Rich AsiansKevin Kwan
  15. Where’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple
  16. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseBenjamin Alire Sáenz
  17. Beautiful YouChuck Palaniuk
  18. Parable of the SowerOctavia E. Butler
  19. The Rosie ProjectGraeme Simsion
  20. The Martian – Andy Weir

Non-Fiction

  1. Bad Feminist: Essays – Roxane Gay
  2. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial DivideCarol Anderson
  3. Dear GirlsAli Wong
  4. Born to RunChristopher McDougall
  5. Open: An Autobiography – Andre Agassi
  6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup John Carreyrou
  7. The Last GirlNadia Murad
  8. The Girl Who Smiled BeadsClemantine Wamariya
  9. Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard LawHaben Girma
  10. My Horizontal Life Chelsea Handler
  11. Awareness Anthony de Mello
  12. The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody DisordersJohn E. Sarno
  13. The Body Keeps the ScoreBessel van der Kolk 
  14. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison Piper Kerman
  15. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself Melody Beattie
  16. Everybody lies – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  17. The Art of AskingAmanda Palmer
  18. The War of ArtSteven Pressfield
  19. Being MortalAtul Gawande
  20. Modern RomanceAziz Ansari
  21. Bossy Pants – Tina Fey

Play the Role

If you want to be loved,
Darling, just play the role.

Remember, I decide your value.
You are only here for how I need you, nothing else.
Your comfort… not my concern, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

How naïve are you?
Oh perfect… you don’t listen to your boundaries.
Use and abuse?
Of course you won’t pushback.

You keep telling me you want to be loved,
But then you push back and tell me I’m doing it wrong.
Don’t you get how this works.
You don’t get a say in how you want to be loved.
Your pleasure isn’t my concerned.

Now you want to hold power and be in control.
I’ll make you pay.
I’ll use those feelings, that care, compassion, and empathy to destroy you.

Did you forget?
My feelings are your responsibility.
Your job is to take care of me first.
How dare you push back and think yourself worth is even close to mine

How dare you make me uncomfortable.

You do not get to be the comfortable one.
Show me how much you actually love me.
How dare you enjoy anything that diminishes me.
You will be punished if this makes me look bad.

How dare you enjoy something at my expense.
How dare you challenge me. You are not equal.
Take it, take all the abuse, more, you deserve it.

I’m so sorry.
You should have just listened.
You don’t know better.
You’ll do better next time.

If you want to be loved,
Darling, just play the role.

I Love you but…

I miss you and don’t want to not have you in my life.
You want me how you want me.
Not how I want me.

How do I keep me when I try to exist with you?
Can I have you in my life and still live my best life?
Are you taking up space or empowering me to grown?
You want to be what I need, but in action (practice), cannot be who I need.

I love you but…
I love you, but the time is wrong.
I love you, but I’m struggling to let go.

I love you, but I love me more.