Healthcare

Amazon, JP Morgan and BH Looked in the Wrong Place for a Healthcare Leader, but Still Found the Right Guy

By Dr. Josh Luke

For almost ten years I was a hospital Chief Executive Officer. My primary role beyond all else as a hospital Administrator was to manage a team of doctors, surgeons and Emergency Department staff who were trained to look for any excuse they could to admit others to the hospital. That’s how we got paid in healthcare. We put a head in a bed.

You know who else is trained in the same manner? A doctor. Doctors find justification to order tests, admit and over-utilize with the goal of reaping financial benefit! Whether in the physician office, in the hospital or at the nursing home, the goal is to find a way to get paid.

Then came the Affordable Care Act and value-based care.

Obamacare was designed to turn the heads-in-beds reimbursement model, well…on its head. Obamacare is an insurance model. Reward those who keep patients out of the hospital, and share in the savings with the hospital when successful.

But that didn’t happen. Hospitals hoped and prayed for a GOP sweep and majority in the last Presidential election thinking that would result in the reversal of Obamacare. Not so fast. Attempts to overturn failed, and costs to consumers continued to skyrocket. Businesses and consumers alike could no longer afford basic access to care.

Once we all got healthcare benefits, we weren’t about to give it back! So, small business owners started crying for help, and finally by early 2018, Disney, Walmart, Apple and the three headed-beast of Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway (AJPMBW) all made major announcements about redefining how they deliver healthcare benefits to their employees.

2018 is the year America declared war on hyperinflation in healthcare.

And when names like those listed above are leading the way, well…hospitals, doctors, insurers and Big Pharma who have driven this hyper-inflation train finally have a battle on their hands.

So, when Warren Buffet led efforts to re-design the American healthcare delivery system and went looking for a leader, a hospital executive or physician seemed like the least likely person…right?

One would think. Early on we heard names like former Cleveland Clinic CEO, Toby Cosgrove, and physician turned hospital executive, Dr. David Feinberg. As much respect as I have for each of those leaders and their creativity in tweaking the delivery model, I immediately thought, “Say it ain’t so! They can’t possibly think a heads-in-beds leader can redesign healthcare!”

It was names like former Walmart Human Resources Director, Tom Emerick, I expected to hear, or Benefits Advisor champions Brian Klepper or Dave Chase. Heck, I even fielded three or four calls from people claiming to be close enough to have thrown my name in the hunt. And my first reaction?

Why would they even consider a heads-in-beds guy like me?

Well, I’m not the run-of-the-mill hospital CEO, having turned industry truth-teller, and champion for pricing transparency.

But when the ball finally landed, it was indeed a physician. Not just any physician. Having read a lot of Dr. Atul Gawande’s writings, I was confident that if a doctor or hospital administrator would be the final choice, then he would be the ideal person.

I am hopeful Dr. Gawande will lead a team that focuses on including preventative and personalized medicine tactics like DNA testing and Naturopathic medicine, as well as new innovative models focused on the patient-doctor relationship like Direct Primary Care.

Look at how Color has partnered with Levi Strauss and other companies to offer DNA testing benefits that help employees understand which medications their bodies metabolizes best. Will the AJPMBW partnership be next? We see Direct Primary Care (DPC) Models like Diamond Physicians in Dallas spending up to 20 minutes per patient on average during office visits. Their recent DPC video went viral on LinkedIn as further proof that the model is a true asset to employees seeking enhanced healthcare benefits at a lower cost. Dr. James Pinckney is among the national thought leaders in DPC who co-hosted that video introduction.

And what about companies like Harvey that have sprung up offering Integrative Medicine services, an enhanced level of Naturopathic approaches to be combined with traditional Western approaches? Helix, RokketMed and others young companies are making big waves with employers who have been willing to lead the way.

These are exciting times indeed.

Even though it sounds like the Big Three went fishing for a whale in a shark pond, it was the whale in fact that they landed as Dr. Atul Gawande represents the best the American delivery system has to offer.

Now let’s sit back and see if the end result of this model can match the success of his best-selling book Being Mortal. I, for one, am hopeful.

 

Dr. Josh Luke is an award winning Futurist, hospital CEO, two time Amazon #1 best selling author and faculty at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. He is a well-known public speaker on the topic of healthcare affordability and transformation and writes regularly for LinkedIn as The Healthcare Affordability Authority. Visit www.DrJoshLuke.com for more information.

 

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