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Care Innovation Summit Explores Opportunities and Challenges for Transforming U.S. Health Care System in 2014 and Beyond

Sebelius, Conway, Orszag, Brenner join more than 60 industry and policy leaders convened by The Advisory Board Company and the Aspen Institute to spotlight health care innovation; video footage of select presentations now available on event website

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaking to a group of more than 600 health care providers, executives, and policy experts at the Care Innovation Summit on February 27, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius highlighted significant progress in moving toward a 21st century health care system while acknowledging that there is much more to be done.  Archived video of Sebelius's presentation and other key sessions from the Summit are newly available at

The Advisory Board Company.

"We have moved an entire health system into a technological age," she noted, referring to the fact that over 50% of U.S. hospitals have adopted electronic health records systems.  Lamenting the fact that for many patients seeking care in a doctor's office over the past four decades, "the only difference is the dates on the magazines in the waiting room," she also stressed that recent HHS initiatives have shown that "when you remove the barriers to innovation, you can actually hold down costs while lifting entrepreneurs up and getting better health results."

Further emphasizing the need for continued innovation and transformation in health care delivery, Patrick Conway, MD, Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, presented attendees with a stark choice between innovating to deliver better value or be forced to endure painful financial choices, noting that, "we need to improve or make cuts that are not helpful."  Dr. Conway highlighted the success of several innovative Medicare initiatives, such as a program to reduce hospital readmissions that helped decrease Medicare readmission rates from 20% in January 2012 to 17.5% in January 2013.  While that translates to more than 130,000 avoided readmissions, Dr. Conway acknowledged the need to do more: "We are on the right path but need to increase the pace."

The importance of capital market signals and provider expectations was another theme at the Summit.  Peter Orszag, Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking at Citigroup, observed that health care spending is slowing because, "the provider space in particular is looking out and projecting a significant change in how they are paid [with] half of facility revenue projected to be value-based in some fashion in the next three to five years and trying to get ahead of that."  Mr. Orszag warned that if that shift does not happen as people anticipate, the success in slowing health care costs may not be sustained.

Improving Population Health through Data and Analytics
Other presenters noted the essential role of technology and innovative thinking in improving quality while reducing costs in health care. Jeffrey Brenner, MD, Director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, remarked on the health industry's historically data-poor mindset, stating "Proctor and Gamble would not do it like this.  Capitalism does not fly blind, only health care flies blind like this."  He further described his group's efforts to develop a care model that fundamentally transformed traditional approaches to care, utilizing data to identify "super-utilizers" of care in the community and using personal relationship building and patient-centered interventions to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.

Will Shrank, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Provider Innovation and Analytics with CVS Caremark, described CVS's efforts to utilize prescription data for its customers to better understand medication adherence and proactively address future gaps in care: "We think a lot about how to predict non-adherence, how to predict adverse outcomes so we can target the right kinds of interventions to the right people."  In addition, Stephan Fihn, MD, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Analytics and Business Intelligence, described efforts to link clinical, operational, financial, and patient data for veterans at a national level.  Dr. Fihn stated their vision is to "deliver the right information, to the right person, at the right time and I think that is really what is meant by actionable data."

Increasing Care Coordination
Many of the experts participating stressed the importance of coordination of efforts in both the private and public sectors as new care approaches are adopted. Chet Burrell, CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, discussed examples of how a commercial insurance plan can drive payment and delivery changes that benefit all patients, citing his company's success in establishing patient-centered medical homes in partnership with the providers serving beneficiaries in CareFirst plans.  In contrast, Dr. Conway referenced Bellin-Thedacare Healthcare Partners's ACO, a high-performing ACO that produced savings for Medicare but ultimately lost money because other payers were not willing to align payment models.  Expressing dismay about Bellin's experience, Dr. Conway said, "We need to align incentives so that ... this becomes financially sustainable because we've aligned the private payer, the Medicaid and the Medicare market."

Focusing on the increasing role of health care consumers, Dena Bravata, MD, CMO and Head of Products at Castlight Health, emphasized the importance of giving consumers actionable data, commenting that consumers want the minimum necessary information, presented in a clear, precise way.  Sarah Patterson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Virginia Mason Medical Center, described the health system's collaboration with employers to improve care quality and access while reducing overall costs of care. The system has implemented value-based benefit design and wellness programs to improve employee health, recognizing that improved employee health leads to lower health benefit costs and improved workforce productivity.

During a discussion of potential new areas of health care innovation, former Senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, MD, offered insights into future issues to be addressed and expressed optimism that the political difficulties surrounding the health care debate could be overcome by continued investment in new approaches to care.  Dr. Frist noted that the broader market is providing IT innovations with the potential to transform health care, mentioning that health care stakeholders are "taking advantage of cloud computing, parallel super computing, personal devices and reaching outside and pulling into the field of health care to have disruptive technology." Senator Daschle added that innovations like telehealth and population health models are "examples of innovation in the private sector that we would not have seen five years ago."

The Care Innovation Summit touched upon many questions and insights that are likely to continue to generate discussion in months and years to come.  "As health care providers and leaders wrestle with how to accelerate care innovation, continuing this dialogue to explore groundbreaking ideas from both the public and private sector is absolutely critical to strengthening our understanding of the transformation opportunities and quickly scaling best practices to accelerate improvement," said Chas Roades, Chief Research Officer at The Advisory Board Company.

Please visit to see a summary of several Summit sessions, including the presentations by Ms. Sebelius and Dr. Brenner, the morning plenary sessions, the morning breakouts and the key implications for care management.  A video replay of select plenary and breakout sessions is now available on the Care Innovation Summit microsite.

About The Advisory Board Company
The Advisory Board Company is a global technology, research, and consulting firm partnering with 165,000 leaders in 4,100 organizations across health care and higher education. Through its innovative membership model, the company collaborates with executives and their teams to elevate performance and solve their most pressing challenges. The company provides strategic guidance, actionable insights, web-based software solutions, and comprehensive implementation and management services.  In 2013, The Advisory Board Company noted that more than 50% of the nation's inpatient admissions now flow through the firm's software technology platforms.  For more information, visit

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