Highlights from 2015

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Knoxville Convention Center

HC21 staff are still excited from the energy felt during our 18th Annual Health & Productivity Forum. With thirty sponsors, most of whom exhibited in our exhibit hall, and a packed program, we hope our attendees were inspired and enlightened by our program. We hope that they'll take what they learned and put it to good use for the benefit of our region.

Bill Fox kicked things off by discussing the changing environment we are seeing all around us. Bringing to the audience’s attention that while a YouTube video of a cat riding a skateboard has over 3 million views in just a few months, any of the top health plans most popular videos online has maybe only 30,000 views. We are moving more towards pay for performance models and with the technology we are able to connect data together in ways never before possible.

Next, we heard from a panel of speakers around moving the needle on cost quality and transparency. Murray Harber, Executive Director of the Mississippi Business Group on Health, recommended employers continue to drive change through Value Based Benefit Design strategies. Murray pointed out that VBBD should not be a blunt weapon but a philosophical foundation for an employer’s approach to healthcare benefits. Employers should strive to develop cultures of health within the organization (from the top down), and avoid strategies that merely shift costs. Tracy Jones, Director of Total Rewards, presented Nissan North America’s commitment to establishing consumerism within their population. In 2009, Nissan introduced LiveWell, a rebranding of their healthcare benefits program. Tracy cautioned others considering healthcare benefits strategies that employers need to create a culture of health, incentives alone will not make better consumers – they need tools, education and guidance, data must be population specific, even at the facility level, and simplification makes for better understanding. Erica Mobley of the Leapfrog Group, continued the discussion around consumerism by observing the recent changes in the market signaling the shift toward a consumer market. She pointed out how Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score, a single letter grade applied to Hospitals, has helped simplify how consumers interpret a hospital’s performance and that they have found that consumers feel more comfortable with hospitals that receive low scores than with those that refuse to participate.

The afternoon then shifted to Laurel Pickering, Executive Director of the Northeast Business Group on Health, who gave a behind the scenes look at the private exchange. Laurel explained the mechanics and impacts of public and private health insurance exchanges that are gaining traction as an alternative to traditional employer health coverage. These exchanges provide choice, and right-sized coverage to consumers, and cost savings and reduced administration to employers through defined contribution.

Ron Harris gave a stimulating and engaging lunch presentation that had the audience laughing and wanting more. It was an educational presentation on what each generation values, defining moments of their era, what they respect, what their assets and liabilities are in the workplace, and how best to manage an individual from that generation. In the end, each generation is different in what made them the way they are, what motivates them, and what they value.

After lunch we heard from Renee Rayburg, Sr. Director of Clinical Consulting with Artemetrx, who gave attendees plenty to think about with regard to Hep C and specialty pharmacy. Rayburg advises employers to think carefully about the consequence of formulary exclusivity. The key to managing specialty pharmacy in the long run is providing these drugs appropriately; the right people, at the right time, in the right venue. Rayburg encouraged employers to apply utilization management tools (Prior Authorizations, quantity limits, and duration limits) to achieve appropriate use goals.

Finally we wrapped up the day with two breakout sessions. One offered tools from Marcas Miles, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications for Employers Health, who gave attendees a peek into the free tools available through the Right Direction initiative. Miles also delved into the stigma behind depression stating that fifty-eight percent of surveyed employees with a depression diagnoses had NOT told their employer. This goes to show they are afraid to talk about it, fear employment status repercussions if they do, and therefore do not seek help. The Right Direction initiative offers a way to increase awareness about depression, reduce stigma, and encourage people who need help to seek it. The customizable resources available for FREE on the website, www.RightDirectionForMe.com, include posters, intranet copy, a field guide on how to launch the initiative in your workplace, TV slides, etc. The initiative can be used alongside an employer’s EAP by co-branding and allowing the pieces to raise awareness all while pointing employees to the source of help. Our other breakout session was a panel around the engage program which works with pain management through worker’s comp. Webster Bailey, with Cornerstone of Recovery, gave an introduction to the engage program and workers’ comp programs. Information surrounding workers’ comp and substance abuse in the state of Tennessee and Cornerstone of Recovery’s program involving non-narcotic pain management strategies was discussed. Margaret Baudendistel explained the process of how the engage program works through education, a non-pharmaceutical treatment plan, individual education, and group education. Gary Eastes, with the City of Knoxville, and Susan Maxwell, with the engage program, both gave testimonials as to the program’s effectiveness. Webster Bailey announced the partnership with HealthCare 21 and the cost for member employers which is discounted from the standard cost of the program.

As one forum ends, planning for the next one begins. We hope you'll join us May 3, 2016.