Challenges accepted: Dispatches from the Forbes Healthcare Summit

Published December 16, 2016

Today’s challenges in healthcare – ranging from the far-reaching opioid epidemic to the emergence of new infectious diseases – make it more important than ever that people get the effective, high-quality, affordable healthcare they need.

At this year’s Forbes Healthcare Summit, more than 200 healthcare business leaders, industry experts and thought leaders gathered to tackle these pressing concerns. The summit touched on a broad array of topics, incorporating perspectives from across the healthcare industry. Takeaways from the conference included the importance of using technology to support patients while maintaining a personal connection with them, as well as the need to analyze data to understand the non-medical factors that impact health, such as neighborhoods, economic status and cultural influences.

Other key themes to keep in mind looking ahead to 2017:

Paying for value must be a top priority

Conversations among hospital leaders, physicians and health plans signal that the growing pains once commonly experienced in value-based models like patient-focused care and accountable care are diminishing. As these collaborations gain steam, paying for value must continue to be a focus for 2017. According to Dan Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), 85 percent of BCBSM's hospital reimbursement now flows through value-based payments, meaning doctors and healthcare professionals are rewarded for keeping people healthy, rather than for the volume of services they provide.

For instance, BCBS of Michigan’s patient-focused care program offers patient services like nutrition counseling, home care, disease management and coordination with specialists that help patients avoid emergency room visits and hospital stays – while also saving $512 million over six years.


Future of health is an integration of lifestyle and medicine

Despite expectations that Medicare Advantage enrollment would decrease over time, enrollment in these plans has grown tremendously, nearly tripling the number of beneficiaries in the past decade. Why? Because Medicare Advantage plans integrate healthcare into patients’ lifestyles, often providing beneficiaries with home visits, transportation to their doctor and complimentary gym memberships. Seniors are drawn to these plans because they make healthcare not just a transaction, but a relationship built on improving their health through a combination of lifestyle and medical changes.

According to Loepp, a greater number of individuals and groups, including the Retired Teachers of Michigan, are enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans because of their holistic approach to care. “People feel like they are getting something out of that connection,” Loepp says. “And if we’re doing it right, we offer that touch without being interventionists.”


This post was based on panel discussions held at the 2016 Forbes Healthcare Summit. For more information, visit the conference website.