Business of Healthcare Conference 2019: The Future of Healthcare

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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“The system we have now is doing exactly what we asked it to. We must ask ourselves, ‘Are we satisfied?’”

With this question, North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen kicked off the ninth annual Business of Healthcare Conference at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill on November 8. Describing the current state of healthcare in North Carolina, Cohen continued, “With life expectancy dropping, infant mortality rising, and costs at a place where we must choose between paying for education and paving our roads, we must reexamine what we really want out of the healthcare system. Do we want healthcare? Or do we want to be healthy?”

The conference, hosted by the Center for the Business of Health, the Kenan-Flagler Healthcare Club, and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, attracted students, faculty and practitioners from all sectors of the healthcare system. Panel discussions included “How AI is Changing Care Delivery,” which addressed, among other considerations, how to eliminate inherent racial bias from artificial intelligence-powered delivery systems.

Another highlight was a fireside chat with John Crowley, chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, who considered the potential issues of direct-to-consumer advertising to patients.

Sharecare Chairman and CEO Jeff Arnold presented his company’s digital healthcare platform and explored the potential to place health information and decision-making in the hands of the patient and the broader health services community.

In a panel on the ethics of healthcare access, Nancy King, co-director of the Center for Bioethics, Health, & Society at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, asserted, “Everybody is a moral agent. Every discussion we have about healthcare is about ethics.”

During the keynote panel, “Hospitals – Is the Definition Changing Yet Again?” providers shared their perspectives on the complexity of keeping a hospital up and running amidst the current healthcare climate.

A highlight of the day was the National Healthcare Case Competition Finals, in which students from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and Indiana University were tasked with developing a population health management program for patients with multiple chronic diseases. Worthe Holt, vice president, Office of the CMO, for Humana, gave students valuable takeaways as he shared the story of his work as a fighter pilot and physician. Holt said, “You have to figure out what your values are. Once those are determined, they make the decision-making easier and incentives clearer.”

Which returns us to the questions posed by Mandy Cohen, and which the future leaders in healthcare will have to solve: Where are we going? And more importantly, what do we want?

To learn more about the Center for the Business of Health, visit their website.