Acting Locally for Better Healthcare: A Report from HLTH

At Mercer, we’ve been talking for a while now about four things employers can do to optimize their own health programs while driving change in the larger healthcare system. We call them the Vitals for Change: Pay for value, drive to quality, personalize the experience, and embrace disruption.  It was exciting to see each of the Vitals on display at the HLTH Conference as two leading employers discussed innovative strategies designed to help employees get the best out of their local health care markets.

First, we heard Walmart explain how they pay for value and drive to quality.  Senior Director Lisa Woods highlighted Walmart’s groundbreaking work in Centers of Excellence, which use set payments for prospective care bundles that cover evaluations, procedures, and all associated travel costs for the associate and a caregiver.  Lisa also talked about a new partnership with healthcare navigation company Grand Rounds, which aims to direct Walmart associates to care that’s local and appropriate. The program also provides associates with care coordinators to assist in their healthcare journey, with the goal of driving towards improved health outcomes.

Next, we heard about some amazing work in personalizing the experience and embracing disruption from Comcast NBCUniversal and their partner, Crossover Health.  Through their onsite and nearsite clinics, Comcast NBCUniversal has been successful in delivering such a compelling care experience that 76% of users identify their clinics as their primary medical home. In an effort to extend their reach beyond physical locations, Comcast NBCUniversal realized an expanded virtual care option was necessary. Crossover’s “Connected System of Health” uses data and technology to be “proactive and predictive” about what services each individual will benefit from most. Through segmented marketing campaigns and targeted individual outreach, Crossover hopes to continue to engage people in this primary-care driven system.

Perhaps the most inspiring message from this session came from Dr. Tanya Benenson, the chief medical officer of Comcast NBCUniversal, who spoke of the “beast” that is our current health system, and the need for employers to “just get in there.”  All employers – large or small – can help drive healthcare transformation, but it will almost certainly mean being willing to embrace disruption.  That’s easier to do when you see other employers take the plunge and come out on top – which is one reason the HLTH Conference was so inspiring.  Collectively, employers provide health coverage to 150 million Americans; it’s important to get together now and then to compare notes. 


Kate Brown
by Kate Brown

Principal, Leader, Center for Health Innovation, Mercer

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