On Health Care

How New York Is Adapting to Changes in the Health Care System

A Recap of City & State’s Annual ‘On Health Care’ Conference

On May 19, City & State held its annual “On Health Care” conference, bringing together experts from health care businesses, government agencies, nonprofits and academic institutions to examine and discuss the current health care ecosystem in New York.

Noting that it can often be difficult to communicate the ongoing systemwide changes to the general public, Mark Wagner, President, Heritage Medical Systems emphasized the need to “problem solve and drive through challenges while making an impact in New York communities.”

Keynote speaker Herminia Palacio, New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, recounted the challenges in her career that have prepared her for the long-term transformation she and her team are working on in the New York community. “We cannot afford to deliver health care in isolation,” she said. “The secret sauce is rising to challenges together.”

Yevgeniy Feyman, Deputy Director, Health Policy, The Manhattan Institute, led the first panel discussion on transitioning to value-based care. Panelist Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation, questioned how the industry is measuring value. “We need to have a fundamental conversation on what the country — and city — need,” explained Raju. “In the United States, health care is like a rental car, and no one takes a rental for a wash.”

Karen Ignagni, President and CEO, EmblemHealth agreed, adding, “When EmblemHealth measures value, we don’t start with costs, but rather map out what we want the patient’s health outcome to be.” Changing incentives and aligning health plans and physicians to put the patient at the center of care will help move the system toward value, she explained.

Transitioning to the topic of health disparities, when asked how the country can help close the gaps, Ignagni responded, “Food policy and health care policy need to be linked more closely at the national level. Otherwise, the country is essentially subsidizing unhealthy food.” Assembly member Richard Gottfried suggested that local health care facilities need to be more mindful of changing neighborhoods. “The low-income families living on a transformative block aren’t healthier because of their upper-income neighbors.”

In the second panel, “Innovation in Health Care,” Ron Vianu, CEO, Spreemo, Luke Forster-Broten, Product Innovation, Surescripts and Todd Rogow, SVP & CIO, Healthix, focused on how technology is revolutionizing the industry to improve quality while reducing medical costs. Rogow predicted further growth in telemedicine and digital health tools. “My first reaction when something goes wrong is to go online and research as much as I can so I don’t have to go to a brick and mortar facility.”

The conference’s final panel, “Health Care for New York’s Vulnerable Populations,” proposed changes to promote access to affordable care, improved quality and efficiency to the city’s most vulnerable groups, including the mentally ill, underprivileged children and seniors.

“The subtle difference in how the patient communicates to the provider can set up an entirely different medical conversation,” noted Aloysius B. Cuyjet, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine, Nassau University Medical Center. Educating the community on ways to best communicate with physicians can drastically improve the health care system and ultimately improve value.

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