Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Plans, believes that the unprecedented availability of information and opportunity make this an exciting time to be working in the healthcare industry, but said that rising costs make innovation difficult.
“It’s a challenging but exciting time in terms of this explosion of information and opportunity,” said the Washington, D.C.-based trade association’s president. “It’s a more difficult challenge now to bring innovation to delivery systems and to an economy already under stress.”
Speaking at the 2012 Harvard Business School Healthcare Conference in Boston on Feb. 4, Ignagni discussed ways in which the private sector is attempting to create and increase value in the healthcare system, which she defined as attempts that address both quality and cost. “I know of no initiatives focusing just on cost and not quality,” she said. “That’s value.”
She listed four challenges that members of the healthcare community face when trying to introduce innovation to the system: politics, change, creating a value-based regulatory structure and the uncertainty surrounding the effects of the yet-to-be implemented components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Despite those challenges, Ignagni also said that members of the private sector are still working to create and improve value by building alliances, developing new payment models, empowering patients and leveraging technology into better, cheaper, smarter care.
“We’re building benefit plans that encourage consumers to make good decisions by rewarding them in the same way that we’re developing payment structures that reward hospitals and physicians,” she said.
While Ignagni has observed instances of collaboration among members of the healthcare community, she said that more of those instances need to occur and that the time is ripe for more collaboration between the public and private sectors.
She identified four opportunities for private-public collaboration. She said that the focus of the dialogue has to have value; innovation can be encouraged by a public-private effort to promote effectiveness and efficiency; incentives can be aligned through the reconstruction of regulatory structures and public-private activity needs to more closely resemble one another.
Although Ignagni doesn’t seem to believe that the healthcare system is getting where it needs to quick enough, she noted that most members of the healthcare community recognize the need for change.
“Everyone has gotten the message that we need to create a value proposition and a sustainable healthcare system,” she said, concluding her speech by inviting the students and healthcare professionals in the audience to do just that.