Conference Season Part 2: HLTH 2020 Recap

Fresh off the first leg of conference season with NAACOS Fall 2020, the Salient Healthcare team became first-timers at a relatively new healthcare conference: HLTH. Every year we evaluate what conferences we want to be a part of, and lately, it’s getting tougher and tougher to decide because there are so many (which are also all virtual this year). In 2018 and 2019 we attended HiMSS in Orlando, FL, but this year we opted for HLTH when HiMSS was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The great thing about HLTH is it’s geared more towards what Salient Healthcare is about. New healthcare ventures, interoperability, larger healthcare networks, and really the future of what healthcare is becoming. While only three years old, the HLTH conference has quickly become a known name in the healthcare conference circuit right alongside mainstays like Rise and MGMA.

Our team had the opportunity to speak with executives and other bright minds from major companies including Wal-Mart, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, Fresenius Medical Care, and UC Health. As far as the seminars, over the course of the five days, I would have to say the various presentations on emerging technologies were enjoyable. I also think they put on a great effort to include value-based care with “A Push Into Value-Based Care” featuring Dr. Farzad Mostashari and Timothy Ferris in which they debated which was better: hospital-led ACOs or independent physician-led ACOs.

Mr. Ferris made a valid point that we look at healthcare as a marketplace, but from a global perspective, “The application of market economics to healthcare doesn’t always work because there are a lot of pieces of healthcare that do look like markets, but there’s also a lot of pieces of healthcare that look like utilities. Particularly the capital-intensive sides of it.”  Therefore, even though many have been succeeding in value-based contracts, we’re using that pressure that comes from those contracts to reallocate capital that benefits the system overall. That’s what generates the benefit for the patients. It’s going to require continual reinvestment into the system over time in order to really keep value-based care going. Mr. Ferris continues to pontificate on the motivations of healthcare executives because, “If you are in business to maximize revenue, then you’ll stay away from value-based contracts, and you minimize the extent to which you’re integrating yourself with the local community to provide an integrated delivery system.” Consider that a calling out of sorts to those who got into healthcare just for the financial benefits. If we want to fix our healthcare system, that can’t be the only motivation.

Other topics of note included “How to Operationalize Remote Patient Monitoring” which was an invite-only event, Aneesh Chopra’s “The Era of Health Information Fiduciaries,” and a great discussion on the value of women in leadership positions in healthcare by Dr. Nicole Fisher and Terry Stone.

My takeaway from Dr. Fisher and Ms. Stone’s conversation was that “We don’t have a gender problem. We have a leadership problem.” Organizations are trying to find ways to get women into more leadership positions, but progress has been slow. Per the seminar, it’s possible that part of the reason for the sluggishness may be that each gender has a different idea of “what good looks like.” Dr. Fisher and Ms. Stone mention that “good leadership” is a subjective term, and each gender prioritizes different traits with regards to what leadership consists of.  Healthcare, and certainly value-based care, has a lot of women among our ranks, and I really hope to see even more female leadership going forward. Personally, I’m proud to have several female leaders on my team, and I think they each have excellent leadership skills.

The biggest challenge with HLTH is because it’s so massive, you really have to curate your own agenda ahead of time. If you just try to show up and watch everything, you’ll be booked solid from morning until late evening trying to hear everything. That means you’d miss out on some of the network opportunities that HLTH provides. It was definitely a positive experience, and I’d love the opportunity to head to Las Vegas, NV, and see what it’s all about in person. I think you’ll start to see more value-based care woven into the agenda, and I would love for the opportunity to be able to speak on behalf of that subject. If you’re looking for healthcare conferences to attend in the future, I think it’s safe to say that at this point HLTH should absolutely be on your radar. Since I suspect we’ll be back, we hope to see you there!

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.

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