Entitled Managing Through Uncertainty, the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School Center for Health Management & Policy presented its 12th annual The Business of Health Care event on February 24. The conference was held online and live at Donna E. Shalala Student Center, University of Miami, Coral Gables Campus. Florida Blue was again a presenting sponsor and major donor.

After Opening Remarks, delivered by Steven G. Ullmann, Professor and Director, Center for Health Management & Policy, Miami Herbert Business School and Introductory Remarks, provided by David Wagner, Market President, Florida Blue – South Florida, the first Keynote Panel was introduced. The topic was A View from the Field and included a diverse group of national healthcare experts:

Left to right: Mr. Geraghty, Mr. Eyles, Dr. Fischer-Wright, Dr. Grant, Ms. Reilly, Ms. Smith and Dr. Villanueva

  • Patrick J. Geraghty, President and Chief Executive Officer, GuideWell and Florida Blue (Moderator)
  • Matthew D. Eyles, President and Chief Executive Officer, America’s Health Insurance Plans
  • Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Medical Group Management Association
  • Ernest Grant, Immediate Past President, American Nurses Association
  • Lori M. Reilly, Esq., Chief Operating Officer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
  • Molly Smith, Group Vice President, Public Policy, American Hospital Association
  • Rachel Villanueva, MD, Immediate Past President, National Medical Association

Mr. Geraghty kicked things off by inviting panelist to introduce themselves and the organizations they represent. He then proceeded to survey the speakers on their biggest challenges and lessons learned from the recent pandemic. This wide-ranging discussion went on to address telehealth, innovation, compensation trends, private equity’s growing interest in healthcare, the escalation of anti-biotic resistant infections, cybers security, ongoing supply chain problems, the end of the Public Health Emergency and much more.

Dr. Villanueva, an ardent advocate for health equity and reproductive rights, stressed that the inequities in our health system were revealed during the health emergency. “If we have the same disparities in health that exist currently, then we will have the same issues with the pandemic,” she stated. “We need to make sure that equity is a measure of quality.”

From her perspective as an executive with the American Hospital Association, Ms. Smith emphasized concerns about transitioning from the health emergency and the associated sunsetting of certain regulatory accommodations. There are also financial worries and work force hurdles, she added. To cope with the shortage of workers in virtually every hospital area, “We need to figure out a new staffing model,” she asserted.

Ms. Reilly announced an eighteen-month initiative to bring clinical trials to underserved communities. “It all about rebuilding trust,” she stated, emphasizing that the program is focused on community-based engagement. “We don’t just pack up and leave at the end of the trial.” Meanwhile, Ms. Reilly pointed to the American population’s growing mistrust of science as an area of concern. It’s already affecting pediatric vaccination rates, she noted. Another area of worry, according to Ms. Reilly, is the growth of anti-biotic resistant infections. She described a “market failure” in new antibiotic development and steps her organization is taking to address the shortfall of new medicines.

Dr. Grant discussed work force concerns, addressing racism in the nursing industry and scope of practice for nurse practitioners. Regarding lessons learned from the pandemic, “I learned we weren’t ready,” he stated flatly. While giving credit to the rapid roll-out of innovations to cope with recent pandemic, he expressed profound apprehension about our readiness for the next health crisis. Rapid innovations came under duress during the pandemic and complacency post-crisis is likely, in his view.

Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright noted that, at her organization, the focus is on the sustainability of the practice of medicine within the current constraints of the post-covid world. She forecasts that the rise of the consumer and the imminent transformation of compensation will be very disruptive. The pandemic exposed how fragile the medical practice business model is, according to Dr. Fischer-Wright. It’s good news that telehealth grew ten-fold due to the crisis, she noted. After a bad experience with EHR systems pre-pandemic, physicians are now finding ways to apply technology to improve the practice of medicine, rather than hinder it. And, she added, it was robust reimbursement models introduced during the pandemic that made the rapid adoption of telehealth possible.

As a leader in the health insurance industry, Mr. Eyles offered a good news, bad news assessment. On the one hand, the rate at which Americans are insured is at record levels. The celebration is tempered, however, by mounting unaffordability issues. Mental health is also a big area of focus going forward, according to Mr. Eyles. The de-stigmatization of the illness paves the way for better mental health services and outcomes going forward, in his view.

At the end of the discussion, Mr. Geraghty succinctly wrapped things up. Addressing the students in the audience, he stated “Think Big. If this is not the system you want for you and your kids, think big. Because we are going to need big ideas to get to a better place.”

Rarely do this many experts, representing a broad range of healthcare sector stakeholders, share the same stage. Although there is healthy competition amongst the various industry players, this lively discussion demonstrated that collaboration will be the key going forward.

To view a recording of this panel discussion, click here.

To learn more about the Health Management and Policy Department | Miami Herbert Business School | University of Miami, click here.