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AHIP Institute agenda filled with familiar themes


Later this week I head to Nashville for the annual America's Health Insurance Plans AHIP Institute conference.

In the midst of relentlessly checking the weather--I've been told the "scattered thunderstorms" are indeed scattered and usually arrive in late afternoon--and deciding which button-down shirt I care least about spilling barbecue sauce on, I've been perusing the agenda for some insight into the topics that will dominate the conversation.

Some sessions have familiar themes: Digital transformation, customer experience, population health management and analytics grace the agenda of every healthcare conference these days. So, too, does value-based care, though the direction those talks take depends on who makes up the audience.

That said, here are some of the AHIP sessions I intend to attend.

  • Collaborating to Take Costs Out of the Business of Healthcare. The industry won't achieve the Triple Aim without effective payer-provider partnerships. This panel of Aetna, Anthem and Kaiser Permanente executives will hopefully shed some light on how these partnerships can work.
  • Driving Transformation and Fostering Innovation in Medicare Advantage. Sure, this session title uses a couple buzzwords, but Americans aren't getting any younger, and seniors increasingly prefer private Medicare plans to the federal government's offerings. Case in point: Medicare Advantage lies at the heart of Aetna and Anthem acquisition rumors. The plans that can add market share while using technology to improve customer experience should have a secure future.
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy: Creating a Secure Environment in a Big Data World. No explanation necessary.
  • Transparency: Tools, Information and Innovation. Price transparency lies at the heart of value-based care initiatives, from consumer-driven health to reference pricing to bundled payments. Insurers who effectively show consumers what services cost--and how much of that cost their plans cover--will make strides in reducing costs without sacrificing quality.

On top of these educational sessions, of course, are the larger general sessions and the conversations I've scheduled with health plan executives and other industry experts.

Finally, I expect some topics not on the agenda to generate a bit of buzz--namely, Karen Ignagni's departure from AHIP, the just-released-but-already-controversial managed care rule, the Supreme Court case on which the fate of the free world rests and Humana's sudden interest in being acquired. If I hear commentary beyond "I was surprised," "I don't like it," "Hrmph" and "Wow," respectively, I'll pass it along.

At the moment, I don't see an overarching theme for the conference beyond the not-unexpected pitch for innovation and transformation. Then again, now's a great time to be a for-profit health insurer, and until the industry (and the rest of the free world) knows the King v. Burwell verdict, keeping one eye on the present and the other on the future seems as good a strategy as any. It's not a sexy message, but it's a valuable one.

At any rate, AHIP Institute should be an interesting, jam-packed couple days. If you see me, please say, "Hello." And please don't judge me if you see BBQ sauce on my shirt. I get clumsy when I'm hungry. Brian (@Brian_Eastwood and @HealthPayer

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