Whole Health: 3 Keys to Health Care Transformation

By John Kao

Health care is a team sport. Encouraging teamwork for patient outcomes is core to our work at Alignment Healthcare, and I was thrilled to see that spirit mirrored in the robust energy of health care entrepreneurship on display at this year’s Health Evolution Summit.

Across the spectrum, individuals are working to catalyze improvement in health care. Even leaders from both sides of the aisle, from Mike Leavitt to Zeke Emanuel, were nodding to the same tune on appropriate vehicles for improving quality and decreasing cost.

Here are three key points that I’m applying to my work from the summit:

Change might come slowly, but there’s no heading backwards

Leavitt said the journey of health care transformation in the U.S. is a uniquely American journey, but it’s been a journey of 40 years. We can’t look at it in one small segment.

Case in point: Transformation may be slow to realize in the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, but we’re not retreating. Our ultimate drive towards better outcomes necessitates addressing issues that we can’t in an archaic, siloed model.

We need health care, not sick care

My colleagues Jeff Margolis and Dr. Donald Furman moderated a session together and hit the nail on the head: Population health demands a holistic approach. Those who look at the entire delivery system will eventually succeed, while those who only seek to make their component profitable will go by the wayside. As we look to support patients throughout their health care journeys, linking clinical and consumer initiatives will be key.

Alignment Healthcare is focused on people, creating partnerships with care delivery systems, insurers and hospitals to benefit people. Medicare Advantage provides the flexibility and risk to take a comprehensive approach to patients and work with community systems.

Technology and flexibility go hand-in-hand

Technology has a role to play, and thoughtful integration demands flexibility. We need models that support innovation in comprehensive care delivery.

Sophisticated data analytics and case management has been key to delivering better outcomes and lowering costs for our patient populations. Technology is what allows Alignment to receive minute-by-minute updates on patient and member health status. Models like this will continue to become more advanced and commonplace as technology that’s entering other industries, especially natural language processing and neural networks, finds its way into health care.

I’m excited to see the evolution of health care unfold and buoyed by the passion and spirit of teamwork I saw at the Health Evolution Summit.


John Kao is CEO and president of Alignment Healthcare. Jeff Margolis is CEO and chairman of Welltok, and serves on Alignment’s board of directors. The two worked together at The TriZetto Group, the first health care industry vertical SaaS enterprise solution.