About Dr.Chandra Bondugula



I couldn’t resist reflecting on the #HLTH2022 Conference held in Las Vegas from Nov. 13-16, 2022. It was my first experience at HLTH and a week well spent listening, learning, and connecting with inspiring and innovative healthcare leaders. 

The HLTH conference organized at Venetian, Las Vegas, was no less than a health tech extravaganza. A soaring attendee list of over 9500 from across the globe, an enormous hall, and eight stages featuring live discussions, presentations, company announcements, and key sessions looked like a healthcare festival. The attendees included startup founders and leaders from healthcare, pharmacy, biotech, insurance, technology, wellness, and investment. 

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With Petunia at HLTH 2022

I congratulate @Richard Scarfo, President at HLTH, Jonathan Weiner, CEO of HLTH, Jody Tropeano, Head of Content at HLTH, and the entire HLTH Team for organizing an incredibly fantastic event, enabling healthcare startups, leaders, and investors to collaborate on a single platform, the HLTH.

The panels and sessions focused on critical healthcare issues, the impact of a pandemic on the healthcare workforce, how health is changing, and how technology and collaborations can bring the desired solutions rapidly. Other topics discussed in different panels include value-based care, clinician burnout, the role of technology in mental health scenarios, virtual care, and more. 

The conversations at HLTH will lead to relevant actions and implementations for innovative healthcare in the following years. The varied concerns raised and discussed focus on a single goal- delivering quality and patient-centered care for all while putting less pressure on the healthcare workforce. 

I was inspired to hear from many healthcare leaders and found that we at Zeahealth agree with and follow similar approaches. I want to share some key takeaways from the incredible 4-days event. 

Healthcare Price Transparency

Chris Murray, Senior Manager, and Christi Skalka, Revenue Cycle Leader Deloitte Consulting LLP, called healthcare price transparency a front-burner issue for health plans, employers, and other industry stakeholders. The prices for healthcare services are hidden and vary significantly among providers. Further, different insurance plans pay different prices for the same services. 

Noah Lang, Co-Founder & CEO at Stride Health, raised healthcare consumers’ issues. The most significant consumer pain point is understanding what they have access to and what they will pay for it. It is an obvious observation for all other economies, yet it’s still a foundational challenge in consuming health care.  

The topic of Price Transparency is something I am particularly passionate about, a topic that I discussed in the Podcast with Eric Thrailkill and Pam Holt at HLTH while on-site.

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Podcast with Eric Thraikill and Pam Holt at HLTH 2022

ZeaHealth– our health tech startup is committed and is resolving this problem by enabling people to understand what they have access to and what it will cost them. We have created an end-to-end price transparency platform that hospitals, healthcare facilities, physicians, insurers, employers, consumers, government agencies, media, and all healthcare stakeholders can benefit from. Zeatool is a price transparency engine and compliance engine that hospitals and insurance companies can use to become compliant with CMS price transparency mandates. Employers can use the tool to negotiate contracts directly with providers. 

We have created ZeaMed– a healthcare marketplace where people can visit and find the cost of care services. In addition, they can also compare the prices of different providers in their locality and make an informed decision. The hospitals, imaging centers, ambulatory surgery centers, and doctors’ offices can host their services with prices attached to them and the consumers can purchase from ZeaMed. 

I strongly believe and aim to bring complete price transparency in healthcare where anyone can be able to purchase healthcare services and know the cost, quality, location, and outcomes of the provider before seeking care.  

Data Is Power

Sarah London, CEO of Centene, and Fatima Paruk, Chief Health Officer at Salesforce, addressed important issues like health equity and access to care. They emphasized the importance of leveraging technology and data to transform healthcare. Data is critical in the healthcare ecosystem as it helps drive better results for everyone, from patients to payers, to bring the desired transformation. London claimed that data is the most affordable way to make a significant impact.

At ZeaHealth, we equally believe in the power of data to bring innovation and deliver better care for patients. With our AI-powered transparency and compliance engine- ZeaTool, we have gathered the data of over 3500 hospitals and collected the pricing data from insurance to make transparent prices available for consumers, employers, hospitals, and payers. 

Thought Leaders Call for Greater Collaboration to Address Challenges 

Mr. Samuel N. Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare, and other healthcare leaders noted a need for greater collaboration to address the gaps and challenges. He stressed that partnerships with capable providers, entities, or organizations are critical to achieving long-term goals. 

Partnerships between technology innovators and care providers can bring the transformation at 2X speed. He further stressed the importance of advanced technologies like Artificial intelligence and machine learning that can reduce the burden and burnout of care providers. 

I had the privilege of listening to his informative session and meeting him in person. We spoke about leadership and the need for more residency programs to mitigate the healthcare workforce shortage. Mr. Hazen highlighted the labor shortage problem due to the pandemic in his talk at HLTH. Read more about workforce shortage, technology, and partnerships from Mr. Sam Hazen in my blog Perspectives from Mr. Samuel N. Hazen about the future of healthcare

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Health Equity & Value-based Care

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, elaborated on the need for better cooperation and understanding of others’ needs to improve health and healthcare delivery in the future. 

Greg Adams, CEO of Kaiser Permanente intended that care providers must focus more on equity and improving patient outcomes. 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that the HHS would focus and rapidly move forward to begin the process of negotiations with drug manufacturing companies to implement the drug negotiation policy within Medicare by 2026. The law is expected to bring an estimated $99 billion saving in Medicare over a decade. 

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Mr. Becerra emphasized a few of the essential advantages and advancements the department has made concerning public initiatives. For instance, the number of uninsured Americans has decreased by 8% thanks to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

He noted that HHS would continue to prioritize implementing the No Surprises Act’s surprise billing regulations. While speaking about the following actions, he stated that the HHS would continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic scenario and the US mental health problem and will keep pushing for increased insurance coverage.

I met another inspiring leader, Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle, who discussed the importance of developing healthcare products based on customer needs. According to him, healthcare is a consumer business at its roots, and it’s essential to innovate to meet the evolving needs of consumers. He proposes to create solutions that can reduce costs, navigate care, establish trust, and improve patient outcomes. 

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The four days at HLTH were fantastic, filled with energy, enthusiasm, new connections, old friends and colleagues, and a special mention- The Ludacris dance night. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

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Ludacris at HLTH 2022

I met some wonderful people- Rachel Dixon, President & CEO, of Prime HealthDaniel Smith and Darby F. from Prime health, Maksim Egorov from Melax Techand Elliana Tuttle from Suny Oneonta at the Dance Club and enjoyed it a lot. 

I had a great time with Eric ThrailkillRuben MartinezJonathan WiikShireen AbdullahChristel AlvarezGracie Francis, and more. I also met the Nashville Healthcare Council’s fellow members.

It was great to meet John Howard from Evernorth, Ajay Kapare from ELLKAY and Sean Doolan from Virtue.

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Sean was my junior at the University of Michigan, and we had a brief GoBlue vibe. 

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With Sean

I had a long conversation with Mr. Phil Gibbs from Disruption Lab and we discussed the TeleHealth Academy from Nashville entrepreneur centerProject HealthcareDisruption Lab, and  Sage Growth Partners and key takeaways from the last two academy events. Phil had some interesting ideas for the upcoming event and I think it will be a fantastic session. 

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With Phil Gibbs

I met Patrick Kovalik, Industry Principal – Healthcare & Life Sciences at SnowflakeMuralidharan Narayanasam GandhirajanMichal Nochumson,  Todd Crosslin, and Fru Nde at their booth. We discussed our partnership and how we can provide value to our clients.

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Any conference is incomplete without the hospitality staff. Ms. Bonnin asked me on the last day of the conference- are you joining us for lunch? I gave her and the team my gratitude and told her how much I enjoyed the food. I appreciate them for providing the best flavors and treats for the 4 days to the 9500 attendees. The icing on the cake in the HLTH event was their hospitality. She was overjoyed when I asked if I could take a photo with her.

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With Ms. Bonnes

It was an incredible experience at HLTH. I look forward to #ViVE at Nashville in the spring.

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