Building Blocks of Change: Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit 2019

I attend a fair number of health care conferences, and year after year, the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit is one of my favorites. (See my 2018 recap here.) This event brings together leaders from payer and provider organizations and always seeks to challenge the status quo by bringing creative thinking many of the challenges facing our health care system.

This year’s theme was “Building for Impact: Designing the Healthcare Landscape.” Indeed, we’ve been talking about disruption/change/consumerism and the like for a REALLY long time. And we are making some progress as an industry. But the question that was posed throughout the event was: What do we need to do to make all this work really matter?

Where I see a strong path to health care working for more people is that we’ve moved from a market full of point solutions to organizations trying to solve for everything and now to a time where we are trying to solve specific problems. This work – by payers, providers, tech companies, and others – is coming together as building blocks that can be arranged to meet the unique needs of people and employers throughout the country. The push to free up patient data (check out Matt Parker’s recent article on that topic) is what will help allow these building blocks to move together in a way that makes health care less confusing and more meaningful for people. Below are some of the other interesting topics I enjoyed discussing and learning about last week.

Innovation in Virtual Care

One topic we heard a lot about are the innovative ways organizations are offering and using virtual care. Rather than just being an added benefit, people are thinking about it as a means of care that’s unique versus just a different channel to the same care. For example, AbleTo is using virtual behavioral health services to fill the tremendous gaps in behavioral health access. Sutter Health is doing great work with its virtual care team to mimic value of “in-home” visits but in a scalable way. They shared the example of being able to see into a patient’s refrigerator through a laptop camera to get a clear picture of nutrition. That is certainly not something one can replicate within an office setting.

Interoperability at the Forefront

Aneesh Chopra, the President of CareJourney, did a session on interoperability to an audience comprised of half payers and half providers. It was great to hear that the discussion and questions focused on how we can make giving people better access to their data both useful and meaningful Sometimes these conversations can be just about the problems and how hard it is to get to a new state of data access. Now it’s we are going to have to do this so let’s make it work and make it good for people. It was also a nice surprise to learn that some payers and providers are doing things ahead of the rules – leaning into data sharing as a way to improve care. Aneesh talked about how the Carin Alliance is going to make this work by setting up model implementations. At HealthSparq, we are using the Carin framework to build out our blue button capabilities for our health plan clients. There’s lots of exciting work being done as we speak.

The Impact of Employee Engagement

We heard from the cofounder of the Ritz Carlton who talked about his philosophy of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The brand took a strong position that the people who work at the hotel are just as important as the people who stay there. The dishwasher has just as much value as the guest in the Presidential Suite. He also talked about bringing excellence to our work and taking pride in what we do, whether you are working the front desk, cleaning rooms or waiting tables. After all, if the cooks don’t show up, the restaurant is shut down. If the CEO isn’t there, no one notices. It was a great reminder that happy employees equal happy customers no matter the industry.

If you are interested in additional summarization of the sessions, you can read more at Oliver Wyman Health.