From drug pricing to health equity to digital therapeutics, the healthcare industry had a lot to talk about at this year’s America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference, held June 21-23 in Las Vegas—the first in-person AHIP event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the keynote speakers, panel sessions and individual presentations covered a wide range of hot topics in healthcare, many of the discussions revolved around three overarching themes:
- Behavioral and mental health: From start to finish, the AHIP conference reinforced the need for more behavioral health services as the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a whole new landscape for mental health. “We think of physical health as the primary driver but often don’t fold in mental health. Financial markets are marking a shift and pouring into behavioral health companies, but we need governments to fund these resources as well,” said Chris Skowronek, Vice President of Payer Strategy at Bamboo Health.Many keynote sessions and panels spoke to the rising diagnosis rates of addiction and mental health conditions, and the burden that healthcare workers have been facing in trying to meet the rising demands for mental healthcare. Thanks to staff shortages and even more patients putting demands on HCPs’ time—in the form of in-person care and extra administrative work—we’re seeing severe burnout happening across the industry.In fact, provider burnout was one of the biggest issues discussed repeatedly throughout the conference. Without the right resources, patients aren’t able to get the care they need. Payers and manufacturers are being asked to work together to find ways to smooth workflows and increase efficiencies to help relieve provider burden. For example, advanced technology platforms can help improve the reimbursement process for healthcare staff, giving time back to them so that they can better care for their patients.
- Data and digital tools: While healthcare organizations often struggle with data overload, a key theme of the conference was about how to harness that data with advanced tools. For example, a session featuring presenters from Genpact shared that health plans may want to leverage an analytics tool to help advance their use of evidence in achieving value and streamlining day-to-day workflows. This helps with drug pricing and contract negotiations, budget impact modeling, and forecasting and developing innovative formulary and value-based care approaches.Himanshu Arora, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; Kamalakar Jasti, Chief Analytics Officer at Wellspan Health; and Amaresh Tripathy, Global Business Lead at Genpact, discussed an analytics-powered approach to integrated care. They expressed that there’s a lot of experimentation happening in the value-based care space, such as capturing patient-generated data. This data—anything that’s captured by the patient in a non-clinical setting, such as how much time they slept and heart rate—can be captured via wearables and remote monitoring devices. However, more studies are needed to capture this data accurately and effectively. This can help monitor patients’ medication adherence remotely and better track clinical outcomes.
- Social determinants of health: Social determinants of health (SDOH)—economic stability, access to education, neighborhood environment, etc.—are the variables beyond the healthcare system that can impact a patient’s journey and result in barriers to access.A session featuring Roger Holstein, Chairman of Quest Analytics and Managing Director of Digital Media at Vestar Capital Partners, stressed a moral duty to help meet the needs of patients who are facing health equity issues. One way to do this is for payers and manufacturers to share resources and begin implementing data analytics and predictive analyses to ensure that at-risk patients are getting the care they need.Other solutions include health plans collaborating with providers and community-based organizations to improve access to affordable, equitable and high-quality care. By gaining a better understanding of which patients are at higher risk due to certain SDOH and why, payers and providers can create more accessible care and meet their patients where they are.