On February 20, the Medical Alley Association convened a roundtable of leaders from our community along with U.S. Representatives Angie Craig and Dean Phillips hosted by Best Buy about the growth of value-based care and the policy barriers to its expansion.
A bit more than six months later, the group convened again and once again talked about the growth of value-based care and how digital health companies fit into that paradigm.
It is hard to overstate how much has changed for healthcare organizations in the relatively small amount of time between sessions.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the healthcare landscape in both the short-term and the long. Emergency protocols have broken down barriers to telehealth that look almost intractable, but there is still ambiguity as to which of them will remain in place when the emergency is finally over. The changes to Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback statute — widely viewed as a precondition to substantial growth in value-based arrangements — are close to becoming final.
In the intervening six months between roundtables, the ground shifted so substantially, participants spoke with the understanding that healthcare stands at a generational inflection point and that everything could change.
After opening remarks by Medical Alley Association CEO Shaye Mandle, Rep. Craig, and Rep. Phillips, the conversation focused on the recent announcement of a value-based partnership made by two of the discussion participants: Allina Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. They graciously answered questions on the deal as well as how they adjusted to adapt to the realities of a world grappling with a pandemic.
From there, the Representatives asked questions about how others were balancing navigating the challenges of the current healthcare environment with making the types of long-term changes that would ultimately result in care that was more accessible, more efficient, and more effective for patients.
Two major themes emerged over the course of the roundtable. The first was the need for deliberate action to expand broadband access, both in urban and rural areas. Patients that could benefit most from the expansion of telehealth, such as those that live far from clinics and those without consistent access to transit, are often the ones that don’t have broadband available to them, which makes the expansion of telehealth more academic than helpful in these cases. Rep. Craig acknowledged this was a critical issue and noted that she is working on a bill that would address both availability and affordability of broadband.
The second major theme was a need to more granularly group patients into clusters to better understand the needs and wants of each group with the ultimate aim of improving adherence to treatment plans. Since improved outcomes are the ultimate metric in most value-based agreements, there was a unified belief that finding new, improved ways of meeting patients where they are at — both physically and philosophically — was a foundational element of making value-based care the standard going forward. This led to a broader discussion of health inequities that touched on many of the same elements of our webinar, “Straight Talk on Health Inequities: This Crisis Must Be Addressed.”
We are grateful to Rep. Craig and Rep. Phillips their time and attention, as well as their deep engagement with these issues. Their understanding allowed the discussion to bypass traditional starting places and dig into obstacles and solutions on a much deeper level.