Part 2: Recapping ‘The 2018 HCEG Top 10 Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues’ Webinar

By | Cybersecurity, Executive Leadership Roundtable, HCEG Top 10, Pharmacy, Webinar Series | No Comments

The theme of last month’s HCEG Webinar Series event was The 2018 HCEG Top 10 – Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues. In a previous post, highlights of the following two topics that were discussed by moderator Kim Sinclair, HCEG board chair and CIO at Boston Medical Center Health Plan, and panelists Ferris Taylor, HCEG’s Executive Director and Consultant to Arches Health Plan and David Gallegos, Sr VP of Consulting Services at Change Healthcare, were reviewed:

  • Which three items on the 2018 HCEG Top Ten list three areas were of most interest?
  • What’s the state of healthcare consumerism and what’s being seen in the industry?

This second post recaps highlights from the second half of the webinar where the topics of Cybersecurity (Ranked #6 on the 2018 HCEG Top 10) and Addressing Pharmacy Costs (Ranked #9) were discussed. The webinar presentation materials and a recording of webinar can be found here.

Cybersecurity – 2018 HCEG Top Ten Item #6

Topic #3: How are you seeing cyber security and cyber threats impact healthcare organizations beyond the tactical day-to-day prevention activities?

HCEG Healthcare Executive Group Webinar-Top-10 Trends Cybersecurity

Ferris Taylor: “I think it’s (cybersecurity) fundamental that we need to innovate and improve cybersecurity in all of our healthcare processes. That really means giving people a confidence that their personal information won’t be used in ways that a person doesn’t want it to be used. So, it ties back to consumerism.

Real World Impact of Medical Identity Theft

“Here in Utah, about three years ago, there was a baby born in the hospital that was heroin addicted. And of course, the Department of Social Services immediately went to the home and removed the three other children from that home. The fundamental problem was that the mother of that heroin baby was not the mother in that home. And it took that mother three months to get her children back. It was a case of medical identity theft where the baby was born. The real mother checked out.  We can understand the personal impact that that lack of security around medical information caused for that family.”

David Gallegos: “The world has gotten a lot smaller and technology a lot more complex over the past decade. And clearly cyber terrorism is a big part and a growing concern that every organization needs to take seriously. But you need to keep in mind that the safest computer is one that’s turned off and unplugged. And clearly that’s not very useful.

“We need to balance both security and usability and the sharing of clinical information. It’s going to be critical to our care model redesigns and our clinical collaboration. This data is also going to be important for us to leverage artificial intelligence and, to help us determine optimal courses of treatment. In some cases, this information is even going to be needed to help really define how whole populations are treated.”

Addressing Pharmacy Costs – 2018 HCEG Top Ten Item #9

Kim Sinclair shared that pharmacy costs continue to rise and is a topic constantly in the news, noting that non-profit hospitals have stated intent of joining together to form their own pharmacy organizations.

Topic #4: What are your thoughts about what healthcare leaders can do about rising pharmacy costs?

Ferris Taylor: “I saw some statistics on pharmacy costs that struck me to the heart. It was from the Health Care Cost Institute over the last four years. It was actually 2012 to 2016 and the cost of prescriptions in the marketplace had gone up by 25%. But the utilization of prescriptions had only gone up by 1.8%. And it wasn’t just pharmacy costs. Emergency Room prices have gone up by 30% and visits went up by 2%.”

Free-Market Economy and Governance

“So, I think, once again, we haven’t transitioned from the buyer being the employer to the consumer becoming more and more important in that purchasing decision. As we discuss pharmacy costs, the other thing that I think we need to recognize is that we have a free-market economy. But industries have responsibilities to govern themselves. And I know some of the bad players in the pharmacy industry are outside of the Pharmacy Association. So, it’s hard to regulate them. But I use those key issues as the things to help us start to address the pharmacy costs”

David Gallegos on the State We’re in with Pharmacy Costs

pharmacy costs increases hceg healthcare executive group

“What I look at the state we’re in with pharmacy costs. To me it’s entirely self-made. We’ve created these regulations that allow schemes like pay to delay, or evergreening – that’s really pushed generics out further in terms of their development. We create, in a sense, quasi monopolies.”

“We criminalize the ability to negotiate for larger population blocks. I mean it seems ridiculous to me, actually, that drugs that were invented and manufactured here in the United States can often be purchased cheaper outside of our country.”

“Clearly drugs are very important. They reduce admissions that would use other high cost care. And some of them are miracles. They can literally cure diseases – cure the incurable. So, I understand this is not a simple problem. But if a drug cost a million dollars and the person can’t afford it, is it really a miracle?”

“And in any other market, if there was a product that nobody could afford, the supplier would price it differently. And that’s what we have in our market.”

Previous Webinar: Strategies to Address Rising Pharmacy Costs

For more about pharmacy costs, see this recap of last December’s webinar titled “Strategies to Address Rising Pharmacy Costs” presented by our sponsor partner Cumberland Consulting Group.

Check out the Webinar Recording for More

For more insight on 2018 HCEG Top 10 and the perspective of healthcare executives, check the webinar recording and subscribe to our eNewsletter where we’ll be sharing more information, insight, opinions and ideas of value to healthcare executives and thought leaders. Our newsletter will also share information on future webinars and events like our Executive Leadership Roundtable in Las Vegas this coming May 9th.

Recapping ‘The 2018 HCEG Top 10 Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues’ Webinar – Part 1

By | Top 10, Value-Based Care, Value-Based Payment, Webinar Series | No Comments

Last week we kicked off the first entry in the Health Care Executive Group’s 2018 Webinar Series: The 2018 HCEG Top 10 – Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues. The new board chair of HCEG, Kim Sinclair, CIO at Boston Medical Center Health Plan, moderated the webinar and was joined by Ferris Taylor, HCEG’s Executive Director and Consultant to Arches Health Plan and David Gallegos, Sr VP of Consulting Services at Change Healthcare,  one of HCEG’s long-time sponsor partners.

This blog post provides an overview of webinar highlights of the discussion between Kim, Ferris and David, their responses to attendee questions and some additional information to be shared in a future blog post. The webinar presentation materials and a recording of webinar can be found here.

Note: Verbatim responses are included in quotations and paraphrased responses are not quoted.

Topic #1: Most Interesting Items on 2018 HCEG Top 10 List

Kim asked David and Ferris which three items on the 2018 HCEG Top Ten list three areas were of most interest?


“Of course, they’re all very interesting to me. It’s been a very much a part of my life for the past few years being involved in Healthcare Executive Group and obviously being part of the industry. But really, I think the top three on the list are the top three for a reason. I look at these as the three pillars of value-based care.”

“Any value-based program needs to ensure that it’s that it’s a win-win-win for the payer, for the provider and for the member, in order for it to be sustainable. So, in order for it to be a win-win-win, you really need these three pillars. You need alignment and financial incentives. You need to have strong payer provider integration, or cooperation really, to create a true partnership between the caregiver and the payer. But you also need to have the provider and the payer partner on fundamentally changing the way care is delivered.”


“I don’t think we should minimize the topic of costs in healthcare and that probably shows up in the Top Ten most significantly around Cost Transparency (Item #4). A lot of that discussion in the recent months has been around Addressing Pharmacy Costs (item #9) but it’s not exclusive to that.”

“But here in the HCEG Top Ten is also cyber security (Item #6) and it’s interesting to me that it – like the clinical data and analytics (Item #1) you mentioned David – cuts across almost all of the issues. If we can’t assure the consumer of some sort of privacy around their data and some security, then we have an issue. Cybersecurity was not on the HCEG Top Ten list for many years going back. Three or four years ago it came up to the top of the list.

My top three would also have to include that bigger bucket of consumerism. It’s on the list as Total Consumer Health (Item #5) and Harnessing Mobile Health Technologies (Item #8). And also, The Engaged Digital Health Consumer (Item #10).

“We are in a major transformation of healthcare from the consumer to the buyer being the employer to the consumer. So, I would add those three Kim to the list that David has pointed out.

Keeping Track of David’s & Ferris’s Top 3 Top 10 Picks?

David Gallego’s Top 3 Picks Ferris Taylor’s Top 3 Picks
#1 – Clinical and Data Analytics #5 – Total Consumer Health
#2 – Population Health Services Organizations #8 – Harnessing Mobile Health Technology
#3 – Value-Based Payments #10 – The Engaged Digital Consumer

Topic #2: Healthcare Consumerism

Kim asked Ferris and David to give their perspective on consumerism and what they’re seeing in the industry absolutely?


“So fundamentally, I think consumerism is about giving people what they want. So, at a high level that means affordable, accessible high-quality care that improves their overall quality of life. That’s simplistic in some ways but I think everyone could agree that’s what people want of health care. You must look at a more granular level as to what consumers want and need as they can vary significantly. And then, so from that perspective, consumerism really needs to be about customization.”

Customized care means the right service and/or right content is delivered at the right time, at the right place and by the right caregiver.

  1. It’s about 24-hour access to care.
  2. It’s about multi-channel access to information and services.
  3. It’s about providing relevant content to current or predicted life events.
  4. It’s about customized care plans to take individual patient specific conditions, genomic, social determinants all into consideration.
  5. It’s about empowering and enabling the consumers so they have the right amount of information to make the right decisions for their health, cost, and quality etc.


“There’s a lot of dimensions of the cost equation, of the price equations that our health care consumers, our members, and our patients just don’t understand. It isn’t consistent with what they experience in the other aspects of their life and I think that takes me to the consumer discussion. And that’s clearly one of my top three.”

“But we are in a major transformation of healthcare from the employer being the buyer to the consumer being the buyer. In December, the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) association had an entire three-day conference on consumer experience and digital health. In a nutshell, it really stuck in my mind that as health plans, providers and technology vendors really need to stop thinking like health plans, providers and technology vendors; and start thinking like consumers. People don’t look at healthcare as the only thing in their lives.”

“It’s our responsibility as healthcare stakeholders to find a way that our healthcare messages and our healthcare initiatives can fit into the life flow of our members and our patients; and that of their families, their work, their community and what we need to weave into our initiatives the day to day things that we know, if consumers did them.”

Analogy About Healthcare Spending by David Gallegos

David shared an interesting, very accurate and rather amusing analogy about healthcare spending. “$16 Worth of Groceries for $10!”

Topics Addressed in Next Post: Cybersecurity & Rising Pharmacy Costs

The above represents just a small portion of what Kim, Ferris and David discussed in the first half of the webinar. For more insight on any particular area of interest, you can watch the webinar recording and/or read the transcript here.

In a following post, highlights from the second half will be shared. These include responses to the following two topics posed by Kim Sinclair to Ferris Taylor and David Gallegos:

How are you seeing cyber security and cyber threats impact healthcare organizations beyond the tactical day-to-day front prevention activities?

What are your thoughts about what we as healthcare leaders can do about rising pharmacy costs?

Connect with the HealthCare Executive Group

If you want to learn more about healthcare in the United States and connect with like minded thought-leaders, consider subscribing to our eNewsletter, follow us on Twitter, and connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook. Better yet, join our unique organization of healthcare executives and thought leaders.

Rising Pharmacy Costs – Strategies to Address – Webinar Recap

By | HCEG Top 10, Pharmacy, Sponsor, Webinar Series | No Comments

It’s no secret that rising pharmacy costs are a serious challenge for the health plans, health systems, sponsors and individuals on the hook for paying for them. Our healthcare executive members ranked “Addressing Pharmacy Costs” as #9 on the 2018 HCEG Top 10 list.

How Can Health Plans and Health Systems Address Rising Pharmacy Costs?

On Wednesday, November 13, 2017, Pete Biagioni, Managing Partner at Cumberland Consulting Group, and Marcia Lambert, Partner at Cumberland Consulting Group presented “Strategies to Address Rising Pharmacy Costs,” Cumberland Consulting Group’s entry in this month’s HCEG Webinar Series. 

The webinar provided attendees with a lot of great insight and information on the following:

  1. An overview of trends in growth of pharmacy costs
  2. Pharmaceutical Distribution Channels
  3. Drivers of specialty pharmacy spend
  4. Drug cost management strategies
  5. What strategies health plans and health systems can implement to address rising pharmacy costs

Trends in Rising Pharmacy Costs

Rising pharmacy costs trends Specialty Pharmaceuticals Management Strategies Distribution Reimbursement System Provider Administered, Outpatient Prescription Drugs

Specialty Pharmaceuticals – a 95% increase in just two years!

Pete Biagioni kicked off the presentation by highlighting that prescription drug spending is now the largest category in healthcare benefit spending – outpacing specialty care, inpatient and outpatient costs. Pete added that not only is prescription drug spending the largest healthcare expense but it’s also the fastest-growing category of benefit spending!

Largest contributor to increases in rising pharmacy costs are Specialty Drugs – with a 95% increase* in just two years!

How Drug Prices are Determined in the United States

One interesting part of the presentation was Marcia Lambert’s overview of the Pharmacy Distribution and Reimbursement System for Patient-Administered vs. Provider Administered, Outpatient Prescription Drugs in the U.S.  Several very detailed and informative slides were shared.  These slides identified the product flow, contractual arrangements and financial payments between the myriad of entities involved with pharmacy distribution in the U.S.

Specialty Pharmacy Trends & Drivers of Specialty Pharmacy Spend

A good part of the presentation covered specialty pharmaceuticals, which are growing at a CAGR of 17% as more products are being developed to treat orphan diseases and provide newer therapies. Some specialty pharmacy trends include:

  • As more specialty drugs are dispensed, a shift away from the buy-and-bill system (reimbursement through medical benefit) to the pharmacy (reimbursement through prescription drug benefit) can be expected.
  • As SPs gain more revenue and market share, they’ll come under more scrutiny and attempts at cost containments from payers.
  • The healthcare system’s grudging acceptance of high-priced orphan disease drugs has given manufacturers more incentive to develop low-volume SP drugs.
  • The high cost of SP’s will demand more Value-Based/Outcomes-Based evidence

Pharmacy Cost Management StrategiesRising pharmacy costs trends specialty pharmacy Management Strategies Distribution Reimbursement System Provider Administered, Outpatient Prescription Drugs

The Cumberland presenters provided an overview of traditional Strategies to Manage Rising Pharmacy Costs and then dived into a LOT of detailed information on the pros and cons of newer, novel strategies for managing pharmacy costs including:

  • Comprehensive Medication Review / Medication Therapy Management
  • Specialty Pharmacy Coordination & Management
  • Outcomes-based Contracting
  • ‘DIR’ Fees – Direct and Indirect Reimbursement

The Future – Pharmacy Trends and Government Intervention

This rapid paced presentation moved toward its conclusion with Pete Biagioni sharing a few slides listing some ways that government intervention might impact prescription drug prices. And the webinar completed with a short listing of future trends for prescription drugs in the U.S. The entry of Amazon and mega deals like CVS buying Aetna being two likely major impacts.

The Recording, The Content and More Insight from Cumberland Consulting Group

The above is just a portion of the information presented by our sponsor partner Cumberland Consulting Group. You can learn more about “Strategies to Address Rising Pharmacy Costs” by reviewing the entire recording of the webinar available here.  If you’d like more information or if you have any questions on the content of this webinar, please feel free to contact Cumberland Consulting Group. You may also want to follow Cumberland on Twitter.

*Per CMS 2014  fact sheet:


Recap of Webinar: ‘Care Redesign: Lowering Costs While Improving Patient Outcomes’

By | HealthEdge, Sponsor, Value-Based Care, Webinar Series | No Comments

As more Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) are formed and as value-based reimbursement arrangements between payers and providers expand, the need for assessing non-traditional drivers of health outcomes, leveraging payer, provider and community resources and enhancing collaboration between patients, providers and payers are becoming key to improving outcomes and managing costs.

Our Thursday, October 26, 2017, Harry Merkin, VP of Marketing at our sponsor partner HealthEdge teamed up with Barbara Berger, VP of Care Management at First Care Health Plans, to present “Care Redesign: Lowering Costs While Improving Patient Outcomes,” HealthEdge’s entry in this month’s HCEG Webinar Series.  The webinar presented innovative, real-world examples of how First Care Health Plans is improving member outcomes and lowering their cost of care via three primary approaches:

  1. Collaborating with providers and health systems
  2. Partnering with community resources
  3. Making critical information available to key stakeholders

Addressing Discontinuances of Care

Barbara shared that, while the high volume, time-sensitive nature of healthcare delivery often leads to a discontinuance of care delivery and management between the silos in which payers and providers often operate, the increased data sharing associated with the emergence of ACO’s and value-based reimbursement and care models are helping to align care provided by providers and health plan payers. Examples of balancing the proper people, processes and technologies were shared.

Population Assessments and Social Determinants of Health

Barbara emphasized the importance of carefully and thoroughly assessing an individual’s health care, behavioral and social needs as part of a periodic, recurring population assessment and how doing so can have a key, beneficial impact to healthcare outcomes.  And with “Social Determinants of Health” forming the basis (bottom) of Maslow’s Triangle of Needs, First Care is starting to include an assessment of member’s social determinants of health in their population assessment program. Factors such as the following are included in the population assessment:

  1. Access to Healthcare Services
  2. Access to Food
  3. Access to Local Community Resources
  4. Access to Transportation Options
  5. Public Safety
  6. Financial Status

After Barbara shared her insight on this currently popular topic, Harry Merkin stated: “The phrase ‘social determinants of health’ is no longer a buzzword!”

Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Barbara shared an overview about First Care’s “Expecting the Best Maternity Program” that combines case management and utilization management to complement care provided by physicians while guiding and supporting members – and their family – through member pregnancies; particularly high-risk pregnancies.

Besides services such as assistance with locating medical providers, toll-free 24/7 access to a clinician and a package of select products and services aimed at supporting pregnant women, the program also includes an innovative “Nurse-Family Partnership” where a First Care nurse is paired with an expecting family to help the patient and her immediate family members understand and manage the pregnancy. First Care nurses regularly reach out to ask questions on how the pregnancy is progressing and answer any questions the patient and family may have.

The program has resulted in a significant per decrease in NICU maternity admissions.

The Recording, The Content and More Insight from HealthEdge

The webinar presented three considerations for payer-provider population health programs:

  1. Be methodical about population assessment
  2. Integrate People, Process and Technology with Providers
  3. Use value-based contracts to align vision of member/patient care

You can learn more about how collaborating with providers and health systems, partnering with community resources and making critical information available to key stakeholders can improve outcomes and lower costs by checking out this recording of the webinar and these few slides from the presentation. If you would like more information or if you have any questions on the content of this webinar, please feel free to contact HealthEdge too.

More Information

HealthEdge Website

HealthEdge on Twitter

First Care Website

First Care on Twitter

If you’re not a HCEG member and would like more information on becoming a member, please see this page or email Juliana Ruiz.