What You Missed at AHIP…

By Michelle Snyder

It’s June…which means farmer’s markets, summer camps and the biggest health plan conference of the year: AHIP Institute. In Austin, TX this year, AHIP was a little HIP’er than usual because no matter how nerdy you are, you can’t help feeling cool in that city.

Besides the smoking BBQ, cowboy boots and live music, what caught my attention at AHIP this year? 

1. The Consumer – Over the past few years, we have been seeing a lexicon shift in the industry towards using the term healthcare consumer. It’s a good reflection of the reality that we’ve crossed the line where consumers are paying more out of pocket for their own care and health plans have effectively become discount brokers. With a greater financial responsibility, healthcare consumers are going to behave more like true consumers, and we need to think of them differently. This movement was certainly apparent by simply scanning the session titles - there was at least a 2 to 1 ratio of the term consumer vs. member. It is great to see this continued emphasis of thinking about people as consumers – not members or patients. Changing the language is the first step and it’s encouraging to see innovative companies starting to walk the talk…

2. “Other Industries” – Within the last 3-5 years, there has been a trend at healthcare conferences to invite other industries to share best practices. At AHIP, there were several sessions about learning from Amazon and Netflix, and speakers from Whole Foods and CocaCola. All companies who are very good at getting us to buy things that we may or may not need. I observed people taking copious notes at these sessions, which is good - but the reality is that it’s not rocket science. These companies put the consumer in the middle of everything. They recognize that individuals are making daily choices as to whether they choose their product or another; spend their money with them or another company. They think about helping the consumer “get their job done” by making it easier, faster, and more delightful. It’s great that we are learning from other industries, but we need to move quicker. In 3 years or less, there should be more sessions on what the healthcare industry can learn from its own innovators instead of looking outside the industry at consumer tech companies. For example, Providence Health Group Vice President and Chief Data Officer Vijay Venkatesan presented on leveraging machine learning to enhance consumer engagement and Cambia Health Solutions Chief Marketing Office Carol Kruse presented with Coca-Cola on creating a consumer obsessed culture. We need more of that!

3. Analytics – Predictive analytics, precision analytics, cognitive analytics. And, that was just day 1!  Analytics was a close second to consumer experience/engagement/behavior change in terms of topic coverage. While it was exciting to see all of the sessions talking about how the industry needs to better leverage data, and the petabytes of data we have, it was somewhat frustrating that many of the sessions were still talking about leveraging “healthcare data” such as claims and clinical records. While those data points are important, they are retrospective and insufficient to truly predict a healthcare consumer’s behavior. If we want to truly make progress on topic #1 The Consumer, we have to do what #2 Other Industries do and bring consumer data into the mix. Variables such as purchasing behavior, psychographic information, financial information and, even voting records, can be much more predictive and useful indicators of someone’s future healthcare behavior and utilization. Leveraging all the available data sources – clinical, claims and consumer data, will move us from baseline descriptive analytics or more advanced predictive and prescriptive to truly personalized analytics.

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What stood out to you at AHIP? I’d love to hear from you and continue the discussion at michelle.snyder@welltok.com.