AHIP Institute's Ring of Fire

By Michelle Snyder

It's that time of year again - AHIP Institute 2015 has come and gone. This year’s conference, held in Music City, USA (aka Nashville), provided attendees with the opportunity to experience first-hand a rapidly growing healthcare community in a city once known, solely, for the country music talent it produced. I’ve compiled a quick list of the three conference topics that stood out among the others, and things to expect for months to come. 

Population Health

This seemed to be one of the buzzwords of the show, everyone was talking about it. Numerous presentations at the event were built around the concept of population health. However, I wondered – do people know what population health means? It’s virtually impossible to do something that can make a whole population healthier. In order to truly impact population health, you have to start with individual health. It’s only after you figure out how to positively influence the individual actions of Sally, Joe or Dave, that you can begin to have a real impact on the total health of a population. Luckily for us, advances in cognitive computing, predictive analytics and platform technologies are now making it possible to target individuals with the right programs and resources at the right time. I was excited to see a few of the more innovative presenters discuss population health in terms of impacting individual actions, however, I also realized that the industry still has a way to go in terms of real personalization.

Consumer Engagement

Not surprisingly, consumer engagement continues to be a hot topic among the payer community and it was hard to find a session that did not touch upon this in some form. I was encouraged to see some of the more savvy organizations, however, moving beyond the generic concept of consumer engagement and starting to think more strategically. It’s not just about how to engage with consumers – but which consumers should you engage with. This will help payers not only optimize the health of specific individuals, but also optimize their organization’s program spend. 

Where are the women?

Elizabeth_HolmesA trend I have noticed throughout the years as an AHIP attendee is the lack of female speakers. It always seems ironic to me that as the industry continues to showcase how “understanding the healthcare consumer” is the future, all I continue to see is the past when I look on stage. More often than not, the healthcare consumer is a female head of household who is making healthcare decisions not only for herself but her family - including her spouse, children and parents. Who better to understand the target consumer, than the target consumer! It was exciting to see one of the main stage speakers - Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos - was female and the individual most likely to have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry, not to mention is worth more than all the men who spoke, combined.

I will continue thinking about the interesting sessions and great discussions I had at AHIP for weeks and possibly months to come. Though I have to admit - one of the most powerful moments for me was visiting the Johnny Cash museum a few blocks from the convention hall. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a country music fan, his music is raw and real, and I respect how he continued to reinvent himself and make himself relevant decade after decade. The museum visit was still on my mind during the opening session when Dr. Rodney Hochman, CEO of Providence Health and Services, said one of the most profound things at the conference. “If we do not disrupt ourselves, someone else will.” I believe the health insurance industry will continue to remain relevant for coming decades, but only if it has the courage to reinvent itself – just like Mr. Cash.