Conference report: MedCityNews CONVERGE

Guest columnist Sarianne Gruber (@subtleimpact) attended Breaking Media’s annual MedCityNews CONVERGE two-day conference at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at Bellevue earlier this month, and has a few observations on the surface contradiction of innovation and health insurance.

Breaking Media rightly titled this year’s MedCity News conference “Converge”. Listening to the speakers, meeting the founders of new startups and talking to presenters, it became clear that today’s healthcare ecosystem is interdependent on the all the players to move the needle for better quality health. It was fascinating to learn was how innovation is breaking down the old silos of engagement, and is emerging from all the industry players, as well as joining at new intersections. The proliferation of better products, methodologies and engagement is closing the gap with more data, technology and ideas.

When you think of your health insurance company, usually two words comes to mind, cost and coverage. Keynote Speaker, Daniel Hilferty, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, wants to change the focus to consumer and care. Hilferty paralleled the new ventures at Independence to the work of the great innovator, Thomas Edison. Not only did Edison invent the light bulb, but his work is evidenced in the scalability of electricity that changed the world and how we now live.

In what directions is Independence Blue Cross converging?

They are converging with the provider markets with a joint venture with Tandigm Health.With access to data and tools to manage patients with chronic conditions, doctors are financially rewarded for preventing hospitalizations and improving the overall quality of patient care. Plus a partnership with NaviNet, a real time communication site for providers to give the patient referrals within a value-based accountable care network.

They are converging with medical research institutions to prevent the onset of diabetes.Collaborative work is under way with NYU Langone Medical Center to build machine-language algorithms to predict early diabetes. Hilferty stated that the US has 80 million pre-diabetic patients and 1 in 3 will eventually have full-blown diabetes. They are converging with entrepreneurs and have now partnered with Penn Medicine and Dreamit Ventures, an accelerator for startups. So far they have 28 start-up companies ranging from “Smart” pill boxes to improve medication adherence from TowerView Health to a smartphone-based DNA detection platform, allowing anyone, anywhere to perform real-time PCR sequencing of DNA.

Independence Blue Cross opened a Center for Healthcare Innovation, a new 5,000-square-foot hub dedicated for collaboration and creativity. Then Center aims to improve healthcare delivery by converging with consumers, the community and organizations. Hilferty described the Independence of today as “thinking big, moving fast and leveraging partnerships to be best in class”.

The converging markets in healthcare will be an ongoing trend and will continue. A recent open publication from Oliver Wyman on The Vertical Integration and Market Consolidation: Convergence of Payer and Provider Markets addresses the full scope of this topic. The success stories Hilferty presented exemplifies Independence’s ground breaking programs as well as validates how and why new strategies and innovation across healthcare markets can and should “converge”.

Attended by over 300 medical, healthcare professionals as well as investors and entrepreneurs, this national, executive-level summit was an excellent forum for networking and showcasing early stage companies. The event was organized by Breaking Media, a New York City based and privately held media company which acquired MedCity Media this year, as part of their focus on the healthcare market.

This article was originally published in RCM Answers and is republished here with permission and with appreciation to Sarianne plus Answers Media’s Roberta Mullins and Carol Flagg. Additional coverage of CONVERGE is indexed in MedCityNews here.

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