UST Future of Healthcare Conference

I just attended the UST Executive Conference on the Future of Healthcare and was  left inspired and excited to see what our industry has in the pipeline to improve care, lower costs, and support consumer healthcare. Thanks to the nametags attendees wore, it was clear that executive leaders across the industry are interested in engaging and planning for a better healthcare tomorrow. I met CEOs from small payers, many executive leaders for provider practices and heads of business lines at 3M, IBM, and more. The day was kicked off by Dr. Migliori, the EVP and CHO at UHG. He outlined what UHG is doing to improve healthcare in America. Most notably, he outlined that it will not only take advances in technology and improvements in (big) data, but also synergies across all healthcare players, especially providers. This leaning toward engaging providers is to be expected, as Dr. Migliori was one of the leaders in transplant surgery. I appreciated Dr. Migliori’s presentation style- he was confident, humorous, and presented facts through stories.

Dr. Fruchterman, the Chief Medical and Technology Officer at 3M spoke next, and described how advances in industrial technology will help support the future of healthcare. He described how advances in devices will support the ability of businesses to capture better data which can be used to improve health outcomes. Just as Dr. Migliori mentioned – it’s not just about gathering lots of data, what’s important is our ability to assimilate and utilize the information when it’s needed. I appreciated his remark that changing behavior and technology adoption in healthcare is incredibly difficult (more so than other industries) because of the unique history of the science of medicine.

Dr. Fruchterman specifically mentioned the challenges companies face with organization, access, and processing of patient medical data. Interestingly, he also brought up the challenge we’ll face as an industry that is engorged with data – “whose data is it, and what should a consumer’s ethical expectations be regarding their data.” We didn’t have time to fully answer this question, but it’s surely something we’ll be facing over the next several years.

 The most inspiring and engaging discourse came next, with a panel discussion between Tom Henke (President and CEO of QuickCheck Health) and Tony Miller (Managing Partner at Lemhi Ventures). Their spirited conversation was led by questions from the audience and both Tom and Tony had strong opinions and a bounty of facts to support their conclusions. They disagreed at times, and this made for an even more interesting session.

 Tony started things off with a bang, when he explained that we shouldn’t call it the healthcare system, but rather the “illness burden treatment system.” When we change the frame of reference, we recognize that we are trying to cure disease, and we’re challenged because of a tax model that doesn’t care or align with symptomology. Tony and Tom both fought the assumption that consumers should be given more tools to ‘shop’ for their care – “you can shop for what is shoppable,” but healthcare isn’t one of those things. This aligned with the general sentiment that we need to listen to consumers, not just assume we know what they want. Case in point -  PHR vaults – no one uses them even though they seem like an obvious beneficial solution.

 I’ll stop here, but know that this conference also included three more fantastic speakers – Barry Mason from IBM, Jennifer LaPerre from Wal-Mart and Len Nichols from the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. They each continued the discussion about the ocean of big data, changing the healthcare delivery model, and the impact of politics and policy on the quality and availability of care. If you are interested in keeping up with trends in healthcare, I’d definitely recommend checking out next year’s conference.