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December 10, 2020


Agents Of Change 2020: G4A's Digital Health Event Of The Year


Agents Of Change: A Digital Health Forum was designed to be a conference like no other.

Formerly known as Signing Day (an in-person celebration to welcome startups into the G4A’s Partnership Program), pandemic restrictions forced organizers into creating new opportunities. G4A jumped at the chance to expand their impact and their invite list, turning Signing Day into an all-access conference with a speaking roster of leaders across public health, tech, pharma, government, and finance.

The virtual form-factor, no-cost ticket price, and self-navigation virtual experience meant that nobody, regardless of income, geography, time zone, or day-of availability, would be excluded from entry. Just as we would design for healthcare, the event was built on the tenets of equity, access, and sustainability to become G4A’s first truly global showcase.

The theme was Integrated Care. Bayer is making their mark in this area with an evolving strategy that goes beyond the pill. “Digital health solutions are an essential component to deliver products and services for patients to improve their health at every stage of their lives and can become the fastest path to real personalized care” said Jeanne Kehren (Head of Digital and Commercial Innovation at Bayer Pharma). This attitude is shared by her fellow members of the Bayer Pharmaceuticals Executive Committee who believe in the promise of digital tools as a means to unlock great care.


Bayer Pharmaceuticals Executive Committee, led in conversation by Jan-Philipp Beck, gathered to discuss the “Future Pulse Of Digital Health”

Germany has been an early leader in shaping digital health legislation, particularly when it comes to reimbursement models. In his brief keynote, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, addressed the essential role governments play in fostering a healthy and robust digital health ecosystem for their constituents, calling on all of us to “embrace technological change.”

Watch “Advancing Health Systems: The Crucial Role Of Technology”

The impact of COVID-19 has caused all of us to embrace new ways of thinking and working, such as increasing speed and urgency for just about everything from innovation at scale, a vaccine, and population health management to access to telemedicine, symptom tracking apps, and at-home diagnostic tools. Investors like Maria Velissaris (Steelsky Ventures) are watching their portfolio companies transform, sometimes overnight, to meet the new demand.

Maria Velissaris joined Lisa Suennen, Jessica Zeaske, and Matthew Holt in “Never The Same: Investing For a Pandemic-Resilient Future”


If ever there was a time to double-down on integrated care, i.e. care that is coordinated, data-informed, longitudinal, and that centers the very individuals which it serves, it would be now. For women, symptoms are often much broader than what doctors give patients credit for, according to Arfa Rehman (Chorus Health), one of G4A’s newly announced Partners, who implores us to “start listening to and believing women.” This historically fragmented field is full of opportunities for increased integration.

Arfa Rehman speaks with Deborah Kilpatrick, Estelle Westling, and Jessica DaMassa in “Women’s Health: An Era Of Data-Driven Solutions”

When it comes to working closely with patients, Jeff Dachis (One Drop) knows a lot. As someone who lives with Diabetes himself, he knows that the integrated care model can be a game-changer, especially when the patient is motivated. “The reward must be intrinsic,” says Jeff who adds that tech isn’t the end-all-be-all, but rather a mechanism for personal empowerment. Watch Jeff Dachis and Amy Tenderich in conversation in “Patient Approved: Tech That Resonates”


Indeed it often requires diverse stakeholders, like government and startups working together for example, or startups working with community health workers like the programs overseen by Andrew Trister (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), to create the impact and culturally-contextualized care delivery necessary for change to be felt in the farthest reaches of our communities. Andrew Trister joined Vanessa Mason and Indu Subaiya in “Health For All: An Equity And Access Discussion”

In the finale segment titled “Nothin’ But Blue Skies: A Vision For The Future” with opening remarks from Stefan Oelrich (Bayer Pharma), speakers were prompted to reflect on their blue sky wish for the future of healthcare. Resoundingly, people called for accessibility, affordability, and dignity for all people.

What is YOUR blue sky wish for the future of healthcare? Hear what our speakers had to say.

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Grace Moen

Writer, Digital Health