Tampa, FL – September 25, 2009 - The key question in today’s national
healthcare reform debate is how to most effectively create a system of healthcare
affordability, choice and quality for all Americans. National policy thought leaders,
health plan executives and healthcare experts from Health Integrated, a leading
health management solutions provider, convened in Chicago Sept. 15 and 16 to debate
that question and others during Health Integrated’s Fall Executive Leadership Series
event, titled "Wins of Change: Winning Performance in the Age of Reform."
With topics ranging from the rising rates of chronic illness, mental health parity,
the medical home and stronger integration of medical and behavioral healthcare,
participants shared perspectives on anticipated changes in healthcare policy and
their impact on health plans. One keynote speaker, Julie Barnes, Deputy Director,
Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, spoke about the major goals
of reform and the opportunity for the healthcare insurance industry.
“One clear priority of healthcare reform is that everyone, or nearly everyone, would
have access to quality, affordable health coverage,” said Barnes. “Understanding
the parameters of reform allows health plans an opportunity to create winning strategies
that increase their membership, improve member health outcomes and reduce costs.”
Among the most dissected topics at the forum was the industry-wide need for a more
coordinated, integrated approach for the care of patients, especially those with
chronic illness, complex psychosocial issues and behavioral health challenges along
with medical conditions. Chronically ill individuals with psychological challenges,
including depression, and social support issues, such as lack of family support,
represent a disproportionate percentage of a health plan’s cost and are particularly
costly to the health system.
“In the current era of reform, health plans have the opportunity to create win-win
strategies by incorporating an integrated, whole-patient approach,” said Sam Toney,
MD, Chief Medical Officer and Vice Chairman, Health Integrated. “Addressing co-morbid
medical and behavioral health challenges together is the most effective way to improve
outcomes and quality of life for patients while reducing healthcare costs.”
Discussed at the forum, and currently being studied in various pilots across the
country, the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) may be a model that could fix
many of the cracks in the healthcare system. Currently, patients move between points
of care taking with them the responsibility for conveying complicated and confusing
medical information. According to Dr. Toney, PCMH would allow the patient to more
easily access care that is integrated, patient-centered, comprehensive and safe.
Dr. Toney added that “the PCMH approach may be especially beneficial to improving
the overall care of chronically ill patients, and doing so at a lower overall cost.”
Federal regulations regarding the coverage of mental health illness were also a
timely topic. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 takes effect
in October 2009, and as such health plans are preparing their approaches to offering
equitable coverage for mental health and addiction issues.
“For members with even the best health insurance, access to mental health services
may be more challenging than access to physical health services,” said Dr. Toney.
“The intent of the law is to make access easier. An integrated health management
strategy will ensure that the right care is delivered at the right time at the right
place, reducing the potential disconnect between primary care and mental health
The event was part of Health Integrated’s ongoing Executive Leadership Series (ELS),
a thought leadership program designed as a venue in which health plan executives
can openly discuss issues and opportunities in their industry. For a summary of
the event and to download presentations, go to www.healthintegrated.com.
Health Integrated’s next ELS event will be scheduled soon for the first half of
About Health Integrated
Health Integrated is the leading innovation partner for health plans, providing
evidence-based solutions to accelerate achievement of health management goals for
clinical outcomes, quality measures and cost containment. For more information,
Vice President, Marketing
Health Integrated, Inc.
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