The Blue Cross Business to Business Forum

Of the 100+ average appearances that I make each year, few events are as powerful as our annual Business to Business Forum on Healthcare Solutions, held recently at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. It’s simply a treat for me to participate and I hope it was as big a treat for the hundreds of attendees who enjoyed this free event. I’ve been to conferences around the nation on healthcare that didn’t deliver as much value as our B2B forum did.

It was a day of healthcare information and expert advice on trends, topics and polices that could have big effects for businesses here in Louisiana.

Perspectives & Challenges
The day began with a look at local perspectives and challenges in the Louisiana healthcare market, delivered by our own Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Steve Udvarhelyi.

Dr. Steve caught us up on the challenges of trying to affect people’s health by drilling way down past the normal stuff health insurance companies do (like collecting premiums and paying claims), and looking at how we’re doing more to meet people where they live, increasing the quality of their lives so they can improve their health. Louisiana, as you’ve read in these pages, has a LONG way to go in that area.

Next, we got a national perspective on the healthcare system, led by the vice president of employer health policy and initiatives at America’s Health Insurance Plans, Adam Beck. Adam spent a solid 30 minutes laying out the healthcare policy landscape in D.C., exposing us to tons of research about the positive effect private health insurers have on the health of the people around them.

Every time I think of this, I’m reminded that last year alone, we bought almost $3 billion worth of healthcare services for our almost 700,000 fully insured members! That’s a lot of healing!

Breakout Sessions 
Following these two keynote speeches, attendees had a chance to slip into one of five targeted breakout sessions. I co-led one of these with my good friend and policy expert, Wes Miller, and it was standing room only in our session!

Here’s a summary of the presentations, and if you missed the event, check out the presentations so you can catch up!

Healthcare Reform in 2018: What’s changing and what do you need to look out for?
Michael Bertaut, Healthcare Economist, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Wesley Miller, Healthcare Policies and Procedures Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Wes and I spent some quality time with a few hundred business owners, giving them the latest on hot topics like Short Term Medical Plans, Association Health Plans and the latest letters and fine notices for employers from the Internal Revenue Service.

A Balancing Act: Health, Safety and Affordability in Prescription Drug Coverage
Milam Ford, Vice President of Pharmacy Services, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
There is simply no one in healthcare today who has a better grasp of the prescription drug industry and the challenges it presents for our members than Milam Ford, our head pharmacist. This entire session showcased the latest and greatest tools employers can use to help get control of pharmacy costs, which can be up to half of the total healthcare costs for a company.

Embracing Predictive Models to Enhance Care, Customer Service
Somesh Nigam, Senior Vice President and Chief Analytics and Data Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana 
Ready to move into the future? Somesh is leading the team to take us there! Using “Big Data” to build models that use artificial intelligence to predict things like your chances of a hospital stay in the next six months! And our “home-grown” predictive models are more accurate than existing commercial models! We will be hearing a LOT more on this topic as we move forward.

Innovation to Improve Service
Dr. Vindell Washington, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
While many of the things we do in our day-to-day life have been “digitized” and can be accessed through our smartphones, healthcare services seem to be resisting that trend. Dr. Vindell Washington spent quality time with business leaders, talking about how Blue Cross is going to break down those barriers to improve health outcomes across the board. Louisiana has a real opportunity to improve the overall health of its population if we can just get this right, and Dr. Washington is a national leader in making that happen.

Wellness in the Workplace
Dr. Corey Hebert, CEO, Community Health TV, and Assistant Professor, LSU
With all the energy, drive and commitment in the world, we were blessed to have Dr. Corey Hebert with us again this year. His new topic: How to incorporate mental and physical fitness into the daily lives of employees, especially for those with desk jobs. Studies have shown that being inactive for consecutive hours each day can significantly increase one’s risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even a shorter life expectancy. Dr. Hebert explained the value of prioritizing wellness in the workplace and its connection to long-term health and healthcare costs.

Straight Talk Live: Panel Discussion
We finished off the day with a panel discussion, where I got to moderate a group of smart and influential community leaders talking about their pet peeves in the healthcare system and real solutions to solve those problems. We talked extensively about the needs of smaller businesses that have found their costs skyrocketing over the past four years and what we could do to alleviate some of their pain.

Great out-of-the-box thinking by:

  • CEO Michael Hecht of GNO, Inc.
  • Ben Johnson of the New Orleans Chamber;
  • Quentin Messer of the New Orleans Business Alliance and;
  • Stephen Waguespack of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

In addition to our discussion, we took questions live from the audience, to give people straight answers on their pressing healthcare questions.

It was a huge treat for me to be there and watch all the best and brightest interact with our business community, and I felt pride in the sponsorship of Blue Cross as we try to reach out to Louisiana businesses and help them improve their healthcare costs and outcomes. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of you there next year!