America’s Physician Groups (APG) 2021 Annual Conference Recap

The Salient Healthcare team is constantly trying to find new conferences to attend because while some conferences have overlapping themes, each one draws a slightly different crowd. With that comes new ideas, new networking opportunities, and ultimately new opportunities for our team to grow. Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Well, from an organizational aspect, that holds true, too. Healthcare changes so rapidly that if you’re not on the cutting edge, or even the bleeding edge, you risk falling behind.

Thus Maria Nikol, Jack Bloise, and I all flew from our East Coast homes to the West Coast and beautiful San Diego, California to engage in some value-based care discussion at America’s Physician Groups (APG) 2021 Annual Conference.

Some of the same topics, such as social determinants of health, health equity, the impact of COVID-19, and the continued need for more data showed up at APG. However, there was one newer piece that we hadn’t seen before. That piece is about how we should expect to see more venture capitalists enter into the value-based care space as it continues to grow. Anyone who is familiar with healthcare finance shouldn’t be surprised to hear that, but it’s not something that had been openly talked about recently. It appears that as Direct Contracting Entities become more common, that’s the route that a lot of the VCs are interested in. The question is, as the money flows in, what impact will VC funding have on VBC and more specifically, DCE? How can we align incentives across the industry to ensure higher quality of care and a reduction in costs? Do they even know if they’re performing well?

From our experience, DCEs are so new that we’ve had some people make comments to us such as, “I want to be a DCE, but I have no idea what that entails or how to do that. Can you help us?”

Former Acting Administrator for CMS, Andy Slavitt, was a guest speaker, and he was also there to sign his book “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response.” Needless to say, his quote of “Until we start caring about how COVID-19 affects other people, we’re destined to repeat our mistakes with regards to our pandemic response,” turned out to be the main takeaway.

I thought Dr. Philip Oravetz, Dr. Caroline Lubick Gokdzweig, and Rebekah Couper-Noles seminar titled, “How to Engage Physicians in Population Health While in a Fee-for-Service World” was interesting. We know physician engagement has long been a challenge for those trying to convert their practices and organizations towards value-based care. I think what we’re continuing to find is that it may be getting easier as value-based care becomes more mainstream, but we’re really still in the early stages of this culture change. There’s not one way to align the hearts and minds of our physicians with the business incentives in front of them, but creativity goes a long way. In the end, you still have to find your “champion” to help guide the way so that others join in.

The “Third General Session” with Dr. Charity Dean was also enlightening as she discussed all the challenges she faced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s actually featured in Michael Lewis’s new book, “The Premonition: A Pandemic Story.” Dr. Dean was able to kick off a series of topics about preparedness, leadership, the culture of healthcare, and where we’re headed.

My team and I really enjoyed the APG Annual Conference, and it was nice to get back to in-person conversations. The 2nd night “Exhibit Fair and Strolling Dinner: Villains and Superheroes” themed party was unusual and engaging. The next APG Annual Conference is this June, so hopefully we’ll be able to make  another appearance.


Ryan Mackman

About the Author

Ryan Mackman, MBA, MHA - Business Consultant

Ryan Mackman has been an ACO business consultant team member with Salient since March 2018. In this role, he acts as a solution trainer, marketing and sales consultant, as well as Value Based Payment strategist. His skillset helps augment Salient’s efforts at the ACO and physician practice level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *