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Key Takeaways from Becker's Hospital Review 2015 Annual Meeting

Posted on June 19, 2015 by Susan O'Hare

The format for the Becker's Hospital Review annual meeting in Chicago, May 7-9 was a blend of plenary panel discussions and small group breakout sessions. The plenary sessions consisted of a panel of CEOs, led by a moderator, speaking on what their organizations are doing on a given topic—such as dealing with the impact of the ACA—in 10-15 minute segments, followed by audience Q&A. The breakout sessions consisted of seven educational tracks: 1) Strategy, 2) Financial issues, 3) Physician-Hospital Alignment, 4) Patient Safety and Quality, 5) Health Information Technology, 6) Population Health, and 7) Thought Leaders (something of a catchall for topics that didn't fit cleanly into another track). 

Our own Steve Rice and Chad Stutelberg spoke in a breakout session in the Population Health track on the design of physician compensation plans that are both compliant and supportive of population health goals. Additionally, one of the attendees mentioned there were 200 attendees when this meeting began 6 years ago. This year's conference, however, had well over a thousand. 

One plenary panel discussion, moderated by Tucker Carlson, asked what two things each SEO spent the majority of their time on. Nancy Schlichting of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit answered, "people," and in minute of explanation, one realizes why she is so highly respected. Additionally, Joel Alison of Baylor Scott and White reminded the audience that "healthcare is about relationships," reiterating what we know and do as a consulting firm.

Some themes from the meeting were:

  • "Pillars" remain the strategy framework systems use to focus the masses—both staff and physicians.
  • Population Health Management is THE strategy of the day.
  • High deductible health plans have increased bad debt for systems.
  • The challenge of doing the right thing by reducing admissions, with the outcome of actually reducing revenue, was cited as a challenge to those most influenced by value-based markets. Getting boards to understand that concept was paramount in the success of transitioning from volume to value. 
  • The appetite for non-reimbursed research in academic medical centers adds a layer of complexity to the financial equation.
  • "Disruption" of organizations was a theme as was "disruptive innovation." An entirely new vocabulary of terms is entering the healthcare arena.
It strikes me that in markets with a stable or declining population, "innovation" is an essential trait for a CEO to succeed. By contrast, in a market where the population is growing, such as many parts of the south and west, achieving success is a completely different strategy mostly about running the organization right. It begs the question, do board members or CEO search committees even realize that?

One other note: Gallagher Integrated sponsored the Wi-Fi service for this meeting. Registrants could pick up a wireless information card at registration with our name on it so they could tweet or email without using data. 

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