VBC - At conferences, healthcare leaders vow to challenge the status quo as a collective

At conferences, healthcare leaders vow to challenge the status quo as a collective

Can it be that virtual meetings are now a thing of the past?

With the best of intentions, in-person meetings in 2022 are back in full force. As I mentioned in my post about the 340B Coalition Winter Conference, I am now seeing people with stop-light lanyards, bracelets, ribbons, hand sanitizer, vaccine apps and billboard masks, bringing a new norm to networking and gathering. As I head to these events having taken precautions, I’m excited to share success stories about providing healthcare in such tumultuous and disruptive times. I recently traveled to Chicago for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Congress and Charleston for the Healthcare Finance Institute (HFI) conference to present on the Manufacturer Mayhem and 340B for finance executives.

ACHE Congress

First stop, the Windy City, which lived up to its reputation. This was the first in-person meeting for ACHE since 2019, with three years behind us and multiple fellows to designate (it was an official graduation for multiple classes, including mine!). It gives me great pride to wear my fellow ribbon as part of this distinguished group of healthcare professionals. I have been a member since 2001 and earned my fellow designation in 2020, with a virtual graduation, thanks to the pandemic.

Having the opportunity to network with others who’ve had different paths, and are now exploring the fellow designation themselves, was rewarding to me as a mentor. Keynote speaker Hakeem Oluseyi, an author, TV personality, and NASA astrophysicist, stressed that one way to overcome incredible odds is through the help of others. There were opportunities at each session to meet the next generation of healthcare administration graduates and current leaders, including my fellow pharmacist colleagues joining for the first time (I counted just under a baker’s dozen and met with half of them) and participating in the ACHE annual fundraiser and volunteer project — painting!

These gatherings always bring me back to center — that is, the focus on patient care and bringing our best ideas to the table to improve healthcare for all. My fast track this year included 12 hours of continuing education with a focus on:

  • Healthcare delivery models of the future (specialty/infusion pharmacies, retail health and connectivity)
  • Lowering the cost of care through community/population engagement (episodic care turned to longitudinal care) using the metaphor “your body is your car,” like Jiffy Lube for humans
  • Value-based healthcare, ethics and “co-opetition” rather than competition (all three are a must for the future)
  • Data governance (always fun for me being that The Craneware Group is a technology company that does this daily)
  • Solving for inequities (blue zones, social determinants of health, real-age data)
  • Revenue cycle (we are also all about this from the value cycle solutions Craneware offers, including dashboards, scorecards and metrics)

Is technology an answer?

A common theme at each meeting was that the “great resignation” has left healthcare leaders with giant personnel holes to fill and that their hope is for technology to save the day. All I can picture is the Terminator. Robots. I mean robotic process automation (RPA), something we use at The Craneware Group.

Next up was Charleston. We aren’t talking the Charleston shuffle; we’re talking the financial shuffle from the perspective of the CEO and CFO at IPMI’s Healthcare Finance Institute.

As healthcare costs rise and patient responsibilities increase, so does the responsibility of the hospital to proactively talk money with patients. Patient experience and engagement go beyond the actual healthcare services provided. Understanding the role of insurance (or lack thereof) and the cost of care up front is integral for providers to receive payment for services — and how that communication between the provider and the patient happens is key.

More and more patients want technology-enabled payment systems and the ability to compare prices because they pay more out of pocket than ever before. While mailed letters and invoices are still required for a small percentage of patients, the trend is for self-service tools that help patients make financial decisions.

The other finance trends at HFI focused on how HR can collaborate with finance to fund workforce retention improvements, including bringing back long-term incentives and encouraging former staff to come back even if they want fewer hours or different types of work, since they know the hospital culture. Talk then shifted to using behavioral science to predict patient preferences. Can finance predict whether patients can pay their bills and be more proactive? Can social determinants of health be incorporated into prescreening?

Picture1 300x158 - At conferences, healthcare leaders vow to challenge the status quo as a collective

Keynote luminaries

A twist to this year was an emphasis on identity theft; the real “Catch Me If You Can” inspiration, Frank Abagnale, discussed business identity theft, and the cybersecurity precautions hospitals need to put in place and the anticipated increases in cyberattacks from Russia and China.

Michael Chernew, a Harvard professor of health care policy and MedPAC member, discussed the strain on the Medicare program, alternative payment models, and the multitude of fiscal challenges facing the United States healthcare system. Pandemic-related disruptions in healthcare, he said, have resulted in rapid adoption of telehealth/virtual visits, supply chain innovation to produce drugs and other supplies, and new delivery sites as our public debt increases. His insights into the past and predictions for our future — and the political process that will be at war with what is right — will keep healthcare leaders in a constant state of flux to shift payment strategy while maintaining quality.

I was thankful to have a discussion with him on 340B. While drug pricing was not the topic for this session, we were able to share our thoughts on the industry, and I took the stage to share with the finance leaders how to prepare for the Manufacturer Mayhem. I touched on the right questions to ask staff, how to support their 340B steering committee, asking effective questions, understanding how to partner with their 340B vendor to optimize their program and, finally, being a 340B advocate — or better yet, an evangelist.

Gatherings like these are important, especially after the last two years of quarantine and isolation. It’s through these in-person conversations that we can connect with colleagues and learn from each other. The connections form personal bonds that build trust. It’s through partnerships that we will innovate, not by individual action alone. By being together and supporting each other with a common goal to improve patient care despite the challenges, we are stronger together, just like Sentry and Craneware coming together as The Craneware Group to change the business of healthcare. We use our collective knowledge to build the machines that will inevitably master artificial intelligence to help us perform at a higher standard based on predictive and prospective analytics.

Next stop, the National Rural Health Association. We hope to connect with you to share specialty pharmacy and rural strategies to continue to build partnerships for the future of 340B and the business of healthcare.