The HLTH hold or a Covid-19 coming out party [just follow the joy of people snapping pics with Zoom acquaintances on the HLTH2022 Twitter hashtag] ended Wednesday, drawing thousands to the Las Vegas event. There was a certain self-congratulatory air in the air as healthcare leaders of all stripes boldly declared that they were tackling the biggest issues in healthcare, be it patient-centeredness, healthcare equity, access or diversity and inclusion, and doing it better than ever before .
Among the multiple eye popping scene designs that were evidence of thoughtfulness of the organizers and the uplifted spirit of the 8-year-old Ukrainian girl Amelia Anisovich’s performance of Leave it, it was almost easy to forget the economic quagmire the country remains mired in: the number of people struggling with high inflation; the wave of layoffs; the strain on hospitals, if they are even open, and the sense of foreboding about the future.
And so the MedCity News editorial team scattered across HLTH and armed with their smartphones, asked every executive they could find (and who were willing to go on the record) about the burning question of the day: Are we in a recession and how are you running your business? Here’s how executives responded: [transcribed and edited]
Frank Harvey, CEO of Inscriptionse-prescription platform
Well, if you look at what Jeff Bezos said yesterday he advised Americans, which I think is a bit dangerous to do, not to buy. Reduce your expenses – don’t buy TVs, don’t buy cars. Such comments are pushing us into recession. The one thing we know with health care is that health care does not go into recession. We all need healthcare. We all need to improve healthcare.
Web Sun, Co-Founder and President, Komodo Healtha healthcare data analytics company
Yes, we are in a recession. This is one of those times where you have to be extremely cautious, extremely thoughtful, extremely strategic with where you invest your capital. So, doubling down on the things that work and finding the ones that don’t work to make sure you’re being efficient with your spending.
Jason Gorevich, CEO of Teladoctelemedicine platform
I mean, I’m not an economist. I think economists would say that the data doesn’t really show that we’re in a recession right now, but we’re certainly at risk of a looming recession as we look at the next few quarters. I think everyone in this environment needs to be aware of cost control and really the inflationary environment in terms of the consumer and their disposable income. For us, we are not really very sensitive to the recession.
Caitlin Donovan, Head of Uber HealthUber’s non-emergency medical transport service
I wish I had a better answer. The real answer is I don’t know. I think a lot of things happen that demonstrate positive momentum, but then a lot of things happen where companies plan for the worst — they pull back on spending, which I think starts a vicious cycle. So I think it’s certainly a wait-and-see period where we at least have to plan for what happens if we’re in a recession.
Sachin Jain, CEO of SCAN Health Plana Medicare Advantage health plan
I don’t think we’re in a recession. I think we are in a correction. And what I mean by that is we’ve seen a lot of investment in healthcare over the last couple of years that’s let thousands of flowers bloom and over time there’s going to be consolidation and I think there’s going to be a couple of winners coming out in every category. so we will see a thinning of the field.
Jonathan Salon, President, MDLivetelemedicine platform
I would say technically we are not in a recession. Given the way the economy is with rising interest rates and higher inflation, we’re running our business much more conservatively, but we’re still growing it. So we’re investing in the business, but we’re being cautious with how we manage our day-to-day operations, knowing that we’re in a tough economy right now.
Julien Phamm, Founder and Managing Partner, Third cultural capital (3CC)
Yes, unfortunately we are. We’re looking for businesses that really want to be smart about their use of capital and founders who will tighten their belts and try to do the best they can with limited resources.
Katie DiPena Cook, senior vice president of partnerships at Headspace Healthmental health company
I think it’s a difficult question to answer. What I would say is that every company, every business needs to do what we need to do to prepare for a recession. We just went through a rigorous planning session. We are in a good position… but as a mental health company there is also a human aspect and we have to think about our members who may be facing layoffs or economic challenges, rising prices – all of which contribute to stress and anxiety and depression .
Oliver Haraz, Founder and CEO, ZocDoc, a hybrid care planning platform
Yes, we are. I think from all the indicators that we can see — companies are laying off workers, consumers are cutting back on their purchases, everybody’s talking about being in a recession, how they’re adjusting their plans — even if economists don’t agree with that, I think we’re functionally in a recession.
Jonathan Bush, CEO, Zus Healthhealth data platform
That’s where we’re headed. We are teetering on the precipice and after some of that $1.9 trillion recession creation act or whatever it was called dries up and when [interest] rates are going up a few points and when these layoffs that are happening across the country start, we’ll be there. [Editor’s Note: It appears that Bush is sarcastically referring to the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package that Biden passed in March 2021 and not the Inflation Reduction Act.]
Ann Barnes, CEO of Smart medical objectsclinical records company
Yes, unfortunately, I believe we are. We’re really offended by taking the opportunity to obviously be smart about what we’re doing, but we’re making investments in more technology, more products that offer value to customers as far as ROI.
Dan Trigub, CEO of MedArrivehome health company
So even if we’re not inside [a recession] we went there today. Yes, I believe we are on track for that. Net The first thing is to be an efficient and lean business without overspending, not spending on a $250,000 booth here at HLTH and being very careful with our capital.
Maayan Cohen, CEO of Hello heartremote patient monitoring company
Yes, we are. We are increasing our activity around verticals that will be much more recession-proof. We’ve had tremendous success this year with state and government bills, so we’re certainly doubling down on those activities.
Andrew Parker, CEO of fathersocial support company for the elderly
I don’t really know if it’s a yes or no question. I think somehow. Our plan is to make sure we’re hyper-focused on what we’re building, which is a platform to help older adults and families, and really stay in our lane, keep our heads down and be careful about the money we’re spending and where we bet
Micha Breakstone, CEO of NeuraLightan AI-driven neuroscience platform
I am not the authority to answer. I’m not an economist. I really have no idea. While I don’t know if we’re in an official recession, I do know that the startup funding environment has changed significantly, so you won’t be able to raise money if you’re not showing amazing results. We’re well funded… but we’re running on a very tight budget, making sure we have enough runway to last two to three years [or] as long as it takes for the next round of funding and also doubling and showing results as soon as possible.
Katie Adams, Marisa Plesha and Frank Vinluan contributed to this article.
MedCity News is a partner of HLTH.