I recently attended Microsoft’s 7th annual Health Plan Executive Forum at our New England Research and Development (NERD) Center in Cambridge.  For the three previous years, the forum was hosted in Redmond, so we were particularly excited to have the event in New England because of the caliber of healthcare institutions in the Northeast and the fact that Massachusetts is leading by example in health reform. 

Since this was an invitation-only event for health plan leaders, I’d like to share a bit of what I learned at this forum.   

The overarching theme for this year’s forum was “Leading with the Future” and keynote speakers addressed the following topics:  Improving health, Cutting complexity and costs and Exceptional customer experience.  Microsoft believes that solving the current medical cost growth crisis will require a critical mass of action-driven thought leaders from government, health plans and technology to identify practical ways that technology can advance scalable breakthrough innovations.  The event left the attending health plan executives better equipped to address some of the most critical challenges facing their healthcare business today. 

Key learnings from the conference revolved around two imperatives:

  • The need for a new model of care that coordinates across traditional silos, episodes and boundaries. Both Chet Burrell, president and chief executive officer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Glenn D. Steele, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., president and chief executive officer, Geisinger Health System spoke eloquently about reengineering delivery of care by focusing on risk stratification, team communication, and post care communication and follow-up.
  • The role of technology as a lever to promote healthier behaviors and deliver better outcomes.  Various speakers discussed ways to drive and encourage healthier behaviors in order to reverse the growing prevalence of chronic disease that is driving the runaway growth in medical costs.

At the end of the two days, I think that the executives who attended went away with knowledge to help their organizations succeed in the post-reform health economy and transform the business of “healthcare” back to “health.”  What I’m excited about is that the conference identified several sustainable, higher leverage solutions that can improve personal and population health and make care safer, efficient and effective at a lower cost per capita.  This is an area where Microsoft can really help make a difference. 

By: Craig Hodges, Northeast District General Manager