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Forum recap: Resiliency in healthcare – and looking ahead to 2020

Panel discusses how healthcare providers can be resilient despite increasing changes and challenges.

On Wednesday, Dec. 18, HANYS hosted Resiliency in Healthcare, a forum focused on how New York’s healthcare providers can be resilient in an industry undergoing major change and subject to significant political and economic pressures.

Strategies identified for resilience in a changing healthcare world

Courtney Burke, chief operating and innovation officer, HANYS, kicked off the forum with a presentation on trends driving change in healthcare; she provided brief highlights of the many trends covered in HANYS’ report, Healthcare Trends: Insight for Resilience. These include the aging population, rising healthcare costs, new technologies, tech company disruptors, government underpayment, changing consumer preferences and the growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

Ms. Burke discussed the strategies HANYS’ board of trustees developed through a scenario planning process in 2018 to help New York’s hospitals and health systems adapt and thrive in a changing world. These strategies are:

  • Understand consumers
  • Control the dollar
  • Innovate in workforce
  • Embrace technology

You can learn more about each strategy and the trends associated with them in our Healthcare Trends report; watch our video interview with Ms. Burke to learn more.

Panel offers vision for the future of healthcare in New York

Following her presentation, Ms. Burke moderated a panel with the following healthcare experts:

  • Kemp Hannon, former New York state senator;
  • Kate Breslin, president and CEO, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy;
  • James W. Clyne, Jr., president, LeadingAge New York; and
  • Bea Grause, RN, JD, president, HANYS.

The discussion highlighted the need to resolve long-term structural and fiscal sustainability issues in New York’s healthcare system, even as stakeholders brace for the biggest known short-term challenge: the multi-billion dollar state budget deficit.

Highlights and takeaways from the panel discussion included:

  • On impact of macro trend analysis: Ms. Grause remarked that HANYS’ investigation of macro trends impacting healthcare in New York has helped the organization take a more holistic approach. HANYS’ focus has expanded from primarily government payers (Medicare and Medicaid) to also encompass larger marketplace changes.
  • On caring for the aging population: Ms. Grause indicated the accelerated growth of the aging population is perhaps the most important trend to pay attention to, because it increases the demand for healthcare. Mr. Clyne agreed that demographic changes will have a dramatic impact as baby boomers enter their eighties. According to Mr. Clyne, we do not have the necessary workforce to care for the wave of elderly people who will need acute long-term care; national immigration policy will need to change to ensure we have enough workers.
  • On the state budget deficit: Panelists said that without a cohesive vision for what the state wants to provide and is willing to pay for, sound healthcare policy remains elusive. Several panelists remarked that past budget cycles have shown decisions made to address state budget deficits often have unintended consequences for the healthcare system in the coming years.

    Referring to the aging population, Ms. Grause noted deficit solutions can’t slow the increasing demand for care; short-term actions to resolve budget deficits can only shift who is paying the cost for that care.

  • On economic and healthcare disparities: Ms. Breslin said disparities in healthcare mirror disparities in economic status that impact health. According to Ms. Breslin, resilience is a term used often in her organization’s work when referring to a child’s ability to weather the storms of stress in their environment. Poverty is a key driver of this stress and is linked to consequences such as worse health and academic achievement. She said the rate of child poverty in the state has not budged in 10 years, so now is a good time for the state to commit to reduce that rate by half over the next decade, an effort she said would result in healthcare savings, in addition to other societal benefits.

    Sen. Hannon expressed concern that the state’s population health programs have fallen by the wayside and they, along with efforts to address social determinants of health such as housing and food security, should be considered as part of a longer-term strategy for healthcare.

  • On changing care environments and new technologies: Sen. Hannon said the state should be looking more closely at how the healthcare system is changing, noting the rise of urgent care, new technology and the proliferation of assisted living programs. Mr. Clyne spoke to how new technologies may enable more elderly people to live at home, while Sen. Hannon noted that technology adoption is not without complication. For example, physicians are frustrated by electronic health record systems, which present a serious burden that diverts time and energy away from patient care.
  • On consumer preferences with regard to family: Ms. Breslin noted that consumers want to have trust in their caregivers and they want family involvement in their care. According to Ms. Breslin, healthcare policy decisions should include this consumer focus on care. Mr. Clyne added a caveat, noting that while people want their families involved, most senior citizens do not expect their families to pay for their long-term care.
  • On challenges facing rural care: Ms. Grause noted that rural healthcare providers across the continuum of care face particular challenges including poverty, operational and fiscal pressures, which policymakers must consider when making health policy. Mr. Clyne agreed, noting that transportation and geographic distances are major barriers to care and impact how care is delivered in rural areas.
  • On needs for better data when looking ahead: According to Sen. Hannon, policymakers need to collect solid data to help define the state’s changing healthcare needs; for example, he suggested collecting data on how many people are currently in assisted living through self-pay and what is going to happen when their money runs out.
  • Audience questions: The panel addressed questions from attendees about how pharmacy costs and single payer proposals play into the immediate and long-term challenges the healthcare system faces.

We thank all who attended and participated in our forum. We look forward to continued collaboration in 2020, as we continue our work to improve the health and healthcare access of all New Yorkers and support New York’s healthcare providers.