National Alliance Annual Forum Identifies Priority Issues and Key Actions for Employers

On November 12, the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative team ventured to our nation’s capital to attend the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalition’s Annual Forum, “Leading the Future of Innovation, Health, and Value.” The forum brought together 427 representatives from employers, employer coalitions, and thought leaders in healthcare. Spread over three days, the forum featured numerous engaging speakers, panelists, innovators, and champions to highlight the employers’ role in improving health and healthcare quality for both their employees and their communities.

The first day of the forum focused on bringing together speakers from across the healthcare spectrum to share their insights on critical issues facing our nation. Afternoon workshops focused on topics of benefit design, obesity, the opioid crisis, and mental health, with conference attendees having their choice of attending two of the four workshops. A highlight of these workshops was the “Achieving Peak Performance: The Mental Health Difference.” This workshop focused helping organizations becoming more successful in implementing a value-based approach to mental health, using the National Alliance’s Mental Health Deep Dive Report as a guide. With only an hour and forty-five minutes allotted for the discussion, Mike Thompson, CEO of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, entered the room to alert us that we had extended well past our session’s intended time. He exclaimed his pleasant surprise at having to interrupt a conversation about mental health among employers in a room that had become standing-room only. The enthusiasm for this topic among employers was evident, and it was clear that the KHC was not alone in prioritizing mental health among its organizational initiatives. The day was concluded with a panel of purchasers who are leading the way in improving healthcare value to share their innovative ideas, successes, and failures, including Walmart, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Miami Dade School District, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and Prudential.

Day two of the forum was kicked off with an engaging keynote from Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and Chair of the Department for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he shared his insights on opportunities for healthcare transformation. He identified three pieces of advice for healthcare purchasers: (1) reaffirm the primary care relationship, (2) move to alternative payment models, and (3) choose quality metrics for quality reporting. A panel of journalists from leading healthcare news outlets followed Dr. Emanuel’s presentation, giving context to his advice with a discussion on the impact of midterm elections on healthcare reform efforts and innovations, and their  perspectives on the possibilities and perils that may be to come. Afternoon breakout sessions highlighted innovations in specialty drugs, bariatric surgery, stress, PBMs, organizational culture of health, onsite clinics, and biosimilars. During lunch, the National Alliance held a ceremony for their 2018 award recipients. The Kentuckiana Health Collaborative was honored to receive the 2018 Membership Leadership Award along with the Florida Health Care Coalition. Walmart received the 2018 Employer/Purchaser Excellence award.

The third and final day of the annual forum ended on a high note. A morning presentation from Dr. Christa-Marie Singleton on the CDC’s Total Worker Health initiative highlighted their six high-burden health conditions & six ways to spend smarter. Shifting back to mental health, Craig Kramer, Global Mental Health Ambassador at Johnson & Johnson, spoke of his own family’s experience with facing and overcoming a mental health challenge and how it motivated him to take action within his company. Marc Brackett, PhD, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence gave a professionally and personally enriching conversation on the concept of emotional intelligence and its impact on the workplace.

The Kentuckiana Health Collaborative’s work surrounding mental health, substance use, healthcare quality, and affordability align closely with the national priorities being set forth by the National Alliance and other employer coalitions. The Annual Forum provided the KHC team with excellent context and tools that will help us move our initiatives forward for the benefit of our local, state, and national communities. The KHC looks forward to sharing all that we have learned with our members and partners. Visit our Twitter page to view additional insights from the forum.