Innovation for Healthcare Executives: Health Evolution Summit 2017 Key Takeaways

Eric Grossman, CEO of NextHealth Technologies, recently attended the invitation-only 2017 Health Evolution Summit in Laguna Niguel, California. The Summit convenes 600 of the most prominent business leaders in health for three days of discussion and debate on the critical issues facing the industry. We recently sat down with Eric to gather his thoughts on the event.


What were your overall impressions of this year’s Health Evolution Summit?
The Health Evolution Summit (HES) is terrific, and this year was no exception. It’s not often that CEO’s of national health plans are able to set aside dedicated time to focus on better understanding and solving critical issues facing the healthcare industry. At HES, C-level healthcare executives interact in a forum of their peers. Innovator companies like NextHealth walk the halls with CEO’s of the national health plans, and the topics are on point and lead to productive discussions. The forum and location are spectacular. It’s an event I try to attend every year.

What were the key themes at HES?

One theme of the Summit was around the turbulence in Washington around reform. I think it’s fair to say there is always turbulence in D.C., whether it’s recently or any other time. At the end of the day, it doesn’t remove the need to focus on Triple Aim (cost, access, and quality). Medical costs remain the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. so there are investments people need to make regardless of what’s going on in Washington. Those who are paralyzed are not going to have a seat at the table, but they will be on the menu.

Provider and Consumer
The second theme I heard was the focus on provider versus consumer. A lot of executives were talking about provider enablement, but there’s a broader effect when focusing on the member. It’s still early on the provider as a channel around pay-for-value. There are results, but they don’t necessarily cascade to the whole membership. Having a focus on both, not getting rid of one or the other, but continuing to double down on member engagement was a conclusion.

What are the drivers and success markers for health plan innovation?
NextHealth Technologies and Norwest Venture Partners partnered to sponsor the Innovator Briefing Room, a group of innovative healthcare technology and service providers who are working with health plans and providers on Triple Aim. Our group convened a panel of payer executives to discuss innovation in the healthcare industry. During this session we heard about key drivers of innovation and what markers of success look like. Three takeaways emerged from that conversation:

  1. Innovation seems to garner more results when it is an actual mandate in the performance planning of each executive. The alternative is to carve it out with an innovation officer and operate as an island within the organization.
  2. For innovation mandates, there needs to be sustaining executive sponsorship to combat changes or intransigence within a health plan.
  3. It’s critical for executive sponsorship to align incentives with vendors so all parties can be effective and drive to successful outcomes.

What are the challenges for implementation of innovation?
I heard two primary challenges for implementing innovation projects and programs. They were 1) governance, and 2) prioritization. It’s hard to get initiatives funded and off the ground when there are 500 companies competing for the same innovation dollar. So prioritizing a portion of spend for innovation and committing to make decisions in a short amount of time is critical. Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean just start-ups either. Innovation means your solution must have a compelling value proposition, your data and information security is top-notch (i.e. HITRUST certified), you’re credible, and you understand the world of the health plan.

Those who are paralyzed are not going to have a seat at the table, but they will be on the menu.”

What were some innovation success stories?
One national health plan released a completely new individual benefit that was designed from the ground up to be innovative and not from within the walls of the stoic nature of that health plan. They brought in a design firm and included principles from consumer packaged goods and the financial services sectors. The health plan saw a lot of success when it released the benefit.

They orchestrated around a ‘Why?’ or a business use case vs. ‘It’s got to have underwriting. It’s got to have this, that, and the other.’ This company focused on the use case of “We’re going to design a frictionless, digital consumer individual benefit and experience.”

Another success story revolved around funding innovation. I heard a regional Blue plan describe how they had 24 separate vendor contracts approved in a 12-month period that were prominently focused around innovation.

Why is NextHealth Technologies well-positioned to drive innovation and growth for its customers?
NextHealth’s value proposition for health plans is well-suited to address the turbulence around cost containment in healthcare. Our value proposition focuses on delivering outcomes versus just providing a capability. To support that value proposition, we’re willing to put the majority of our fees at risk based on mutually aligned incentives.

“It’s hard to get initiatives funded and off the ground when there are 500 companies competing for the same innovation dollar.“

Because we’re focused on outcomes and putting our fees at risk, we offer this solution in a managed service. It’s by no means completely turnkey, but there’s not a tremendous amount of effort required from our health plan customers as compared to a system implementation. With no capital expense or resource allocation, it’s a lower burden to achieve results compared to other initiatives within the health plan.


Interested in learning more about how NextHealth can bring innovation and medical cost savings to your organization? We’d like to talk to you.

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