With the Affordable Care Act on the chopping block and possible changes in the works for Medicare and Medicaid, policy discussions have consumed the healthcare sector recently.
But when Ceci Connolly delivers a featured address at the annual RISE Summit in Nashville on March 7, she plans to point out that what’s happening on Capitol Hill isn’t necessarily the most transformative force facing the industry.
“Yes, we all have to keep an eye on and be engaged in terms of the policy arena, and here in Washington the proposed changes will certainly have a major impact on the health sector,” Connolly, the president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, said in an interview. “But at the same time there are these very large, if not larger forces in healthcare that are important and exciting.”
During her lifetime, Connolly says, she’s seen a major shift in how she and other consumers transfer money, invest funds, book flights and hotels and comparison shop for goods and services.
“Those are just phenomenal transformations that came to those industries, and I would argue that they came about for two very important reasons: technology and consumerism,” she said. “Those are two of the most significant forces hitting healthcare today.”
The combination of those trends can be daunting for some in the healthcare sector, because it forces organizations to embrace the unknown and do business differently, according to Connolly.
“But it’s also incredibly exciting when you can get closer and closer to the consumer and really know and understand what they want,” she said.
As for the influence of technology, Connolly points out that it will never be able to replace clinicians but instead can be a “fantastic tool in their toolbox.”
A focus on operations and compliance
Dave Meyer, vice president of SCAN Health Plan, says the RISE Summit is unique because while many other industry conferences focus on executives, this event instead drills down on subjects that directors, supervisors and their line staff need to know.
Meyer, who is presenting at several sessions this year, also noted that the summit has achieved the brand recognition to be able to bring in “solid operators” across revenue, risk adjustment, star ratings and other pertinent topics. And this year, he's especially happy to see more sessions about one topic.
“I think this particular conference has a lot of topics around compliance, which I’m really pleased about,” he said. “I think that’s the future.”
Though it may not seem like such an exciting subject, compliance has become a challenging—and critical—priority for health plans as they seek to avoid running afoul of the slew of regulations that govern the insurance industry, he added.
As for what he personally hopes to learn more about, Meyer noted that “cracking member satisfaction is one of my passions right now: trying to really understand what we can do on the plan or the provider side to actually move the needle.”
He also wants to explore how the various topics that the RISE Summit covers—risk adjustment, star ratings, quality management, financial compliance, care management, performance analytics and engagement strategies—interact with one another.
“I think the margins between the silos are most interesting areas in healthcare right now,” he said.