Health Business Blog

Health care business consultant and policy expert David E. Williams share his views

Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell on value based care (podcast)

 

Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell is a veteran of the health plan world. I sat down with him recently to discuss value based care, collaboration, diversity and how Tufts tries to set itself apart in a crowded market. Tufts is best known for serving Massachusetts but is also expanding into neighboring states. It has a joint venture in New Hampshire and just announced its entry into Connecticut in partnership with Hartford HealthCare.

Overview:

  • (0:08) What’s the outlook for value based care? Have the attacks on Obamacare taken a toll?
  • (1:15) Tufts got started in a value based way. Say more about that history.
  • (3:55) You talked about partnering. Who are the partners? How do you work with them?
  • (5:29) Do health plans need to take an adversarial role with providers? Does your collaborative approach actually work?
  • (7:42) Does collaboration just work in Eastern Massachusetts? Or can it work more universally, including your new market of Connecticut?
  • (8:59) Let me ask you about a couple of other buzzwords: diversity and inclusion. What do those words mean to you?
  • (11:02) Are there particular things you do at Tufts on diversity and inclusion related to your own workforce?
  • (12:36) Can you measure the impact of your policies and activities?
  • (13:54) Are you optimistic or pessimistic about 2018?
  • (15:00) How do you think about differentiating Tufts Health Plan from all the other strong players out there?


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Happy 13th birthday to the Health Business Blog

Teen time

My main job is president of Health Business Group, a boutique healthcare strategy consulting firm I founded in 2003. As a sideline, I write the Health Business Blog, where I provide a behind the scenes look at the business of healthcare, featuring my spin on healthcare topics in the news, interviews with entrepreneurs and policy prescriptions.

The blog is turning 13 years old today! Continuing a tradition I established with birthdays onetwo,   three,  four,  fivesixseven,  eight,  nine,  ten,  eleven and twelve, I have picked out a favorite post from each month. Thanks for continuing to read the blog!

March 2017: eCOA in action. Podcast interview with iCardiac CEO, Alex Zapesochny

I spoke with iCardiac’s CEO about electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA) platforms that collect data from patients, clinicians and caregivers to make clinical trials more efficient and accurate.

I served on the board of iCardiac for several years. Later in 2017 I helped arrange the company’s sale to ERT.

April 2017: USPSTF adopts my reasoning on PSA screening for prostate cancer

Which way on PSA?

One of the advantages of having such an old blog is that it gives me the chance to go back to posts from years earlier when an old topic is revived. In this case, the USPSTF did what I suggested on PSA screening –of course I probably wasn’t the one who made it happen!

May 2017: Steward buys IASIS. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

As a scrappy, lower cost –and private equity owned– community based system, Steward isn’t popular with the big, academic health systems in Massachusetts. Those systems may actually breathe a sigh of relief to see Steward turn its sights out of state.

June 2017: Could Medicaid for all be the answer?

I have been predicting for a while that if Republicans actually manage to poison Obamacare they will come to regret it, since it may hasten the rise of a single payer –truly socialist– system. It won’t happen right away but we’re moving in that direction.

July 2017: What free market healthcare really looks like

Get while the gettin’ is good!

As an economics graduate, MBA, and entrepreneur I’m a fan of the free market system. The invisible hand is a beautiful thing, and it’s certainly been good for me.  A healthcare management consultant and board member, I make my living from the business of health.

But look closely at some free-market elements of US healthcare –like the cost containment industry for out-of-network payments– and you’ll be hard pressed to defend them.

August 2017: How to cure patient cancellations. Podcast with QueueDr CEO Patrick Randolph

This company has a pretty cool way for physician offices to fill cancellations and for patients to get in to see the doctor sooner.

September 2017: Clinical registry solution market heads toward $2 billion

Q-Centrix commissioned my consulting firm, Health Business Group, to conduct a market sizing and growth study of the clinical registry market. The report is available for complimentary download.

October 2017: How formidable would Amazon be in pharmacy?

Oops

October was a bad month for me, since I got hit by a car while crossing the street as a pedestrian. I won’t call it a silver lining, but my injuries did bring me into direct contact with various elements of the healthcare system. Amazon let me down on delivery of an OTC painkiller. I wouldn’t trust them (yet) with a prescription.

November 2017: Blockchain for healthcare. Interview with Fluree co-CEO Brian Platz

SilkRoad Technology co-founder Brian Platz has turned his attention to blockchain, with Fluree, a new Public Benefit Corporation that has introduced a scalable blockchain database for decentralized applications. Fluree is not healthcare specific, but there is a lot of potential for blockchain.

December 2017: CVS + Aetna. Are we sure this adds up?

CVS and Aetna. Love at second sight?

Many of the stories about CVS’s proposed acquisition of Aetna suggest that the deal is a bold move to expand CVS’s retail clinic business. This seems like silly reasoning. I explore a more plausible and cynical rationale.

January 2018: Getting a handle on health insurance data. Podcast interview with Vericred CEO Mike Levin

Vericred is a utility for the online health insurance market, supplying accurate, accessible and detailed data on health plan design, rates, provider network participation and drug formularies.

I recently joined the company’s board.

February 2018: #CareTalk – Riding Amazon’s coattails

Amazon is teaming up with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create a new healthcare business to serve the companies’ employees. But all we hear about is Amazon’s role, while the other two are barely mentioned. Are they just along for the ride?

In this episode of #CareTalk, my monthly videocast with CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll, we tackle this question along with other meaty topics including big data, the CDC, Apple and Medicaid.

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

#CareTalk – Riding Amazon’s coattails

Amazon is teaming up with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create a new healthcare business to serve the companies’ employees. But all we hear about is Amazon’s role, while the other two are barely mentioned. Are they just along for the ride?

In this episode of #CareTalk, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and I tackle this question along with other meaty topics including big data, the CDC, Apple and Medicaid.

Enjoy the show -and don’t miss the lightning round!

Overview:

(0:20) How will the partnership between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway impact healthcare?

(3:45) Are JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway just “along for the ride” with Amazon?

(5:06) Who is looking out for the Medicare beneficiaries?

(8:01) The Economist published a statement that data will drive a revolution healthcare. Is The Economist right?

(10:42) Can we take any solace in the innovations happening on the state level?

(13:06) Was it the right move to force out CDC Director, Brenda Fitzgerald?

(14:20) What should be made of Trump’s description of the opioid crisis as an “emergency”?

(14:51) Will we be downloading Apple’s new Health app?

(15:37) Our thoughts on Indiana’s Medicaid program.

Listen to #CareTalk on iTunes: https://apple.co/2FxbeoX

Listen to #CareTalk on Google Play: http://bit.ly/2EuWHLd

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Steward moves to Dallas. I’m quoted in the Boston Globe

What goes around comes around

Steward Healthcare, one of Massachusetts’ largest employers, is moving its headquarters to Dallas. I’m quoted on the subject in the Boston Globe (Steward Health Care to move top executives to Dallas)

“Steward was always a fish out of water in the Massachusetts health care scene as a for-profit, private-equity owned health care company,” said David E. Williams, president of the Boston consulting firm Health Business Group.

Williams said a corporate relocation to Dallas makes sense for the company: “It’s a less expensive place to do business, it’s more central, and it’s close to some new hospitals they’ve recently purchased and need to focus on.”

This move was no surprise, and has been rumored since November. The company will take up residence in a brand new office tower in Dallas.

A few thoughts:

  • This is unlikely to be negative for Massachusetts. Only a small number of positions are likely to be moved, and many of the current job holders will be offered relocation packages. Anyone left behind is likely in a good position to find another attractive position
  • The vast majority of Steward employees are in the local hospital communities. They will be staying along with their taxes and spending
  • Steward hospitals will continue to pay property and other taxes as a result of their for-profit status. (They won’t be reverting to their non-profit, non tax-paying days from before the purchase)

The main reasons for the move seem to be to get closer to Steward’s center of gravity and to find a lower cost location, consistent with Steward’s overall low-cost philosophy. But there are a couple of warning signs for Massachusetts here:

  • Steward’s decision makers are presumably aware of the proposed ballot initiative to impose a surtax on high income earners. Their move demonstrates that companies have options to help their executives avoid this tax
  • No doubt Steward has been irritated by pressure from the Massachusetts government to surrender financial data that Steward felt should be private. Moving to Dallas is likely to relieve Steward of at least some of that pressure

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.