On Tuesday, UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania was proud to join the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce in presenting "Embracing Innovation in Health Care to Help Your Business Grow Healthy." The meeting’s keynote presenter -- our own Jeff Alter -- offered attendees a unique perspective combining his role as national CEO for UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual and one of the company’s first executives “on the ground” when we entered the market more than eight years ago.
Jeff and the other panelists were there to talk about innovation but as I walked back from The Downtown Club contemplating the coming of fall, I realized that the overriding message each was imparting was about change – more specifically, that the constant change taking place in health care today is a good thing, provided we embrace it. It’s a great time to be in the health care business because we are in a position to affect positive, meaningful change if we collectively focus on simplifying the health care system for consumers, focusing on high quality, cost-effective evidence-based care and enabling Americans to live healthier lives.
This week’s program reinforced for me some key principles about change:
1) Thriving in a constantly changing environment requires embracing innovation;
2) Attitude plays an integral role in innovation; and
3) A positive can-do attitude needs to be shared by everyone.
Happily, the health care industry already has created a strong foundation on all three. Technology and other innovations like DocGPS and other consumer health apps, eSync, Premium Designation and “episode of care” treatment cost estimators demonstrate that innovation practically applied can help support consumers and businesses as they make more informed decision about health care. As for attitude, from physicians and hospital CEOs, to brokers, consultants and members, we share one goal – to improve the health of our communities – and are building partnerships to make that happen.
How can businesses leverage all this? What should you be doing to now to prepare for changes that will come as health care reform continues to roll out?
• Embrace consumerism. The next phase of innovation in health care truly centers around the consumer so everyone along the health care continuum must share information, simplify processes, and provide affordable health care coverage options so consumers can access health services in a more thoughtful way as each works to live a healthier life.
• Advance connectivity. Health insurers, physicians and hospitals, brokers and health educators have lots of information on health care costs, quality care, wellness initiatives and other programs that can make businesses and consumers smarter purchasers of health care – and hopefully more healthy. Innovative solutions utilizing innovative technology must be created so that access to knowledge is tailored to an individual’s needs so it becomes part of a health-conscious lifestyle.
In wrapping, Jeff challenged businesses to raise their collective voices to ensure that the needs of our economic drivers are being heard. Since the health care reform debate started in earnest in 2009, the business community has been relatively quiet. But it will be in the workplace – armed with tools from insurers, physicians, brokers and others in health care – where innovative solutions and ongoing education will have the greatest impact in driving down health care costs, enabling individuals to live healthier lives and addressing the long-term economic health and prosperity of businesses in the commonwealth and across the country.