Louisville Forum hosts important discussion around the future of healthcare in Kentucky

Joe Steier, of Signature Healthcare, Yasmine Winkler of the central region of  UnitedHealthcare Inc.’s community and state business and Russell Cox of Norton Healthcare

Regional healthcare leaders discussed the importance of healthcare innovation in the Medicaid world, healthcare transparency and consumer empowerment at the Louisville Forum held in late February at the University of Louisville.

Panelists included Russell Cox, CEO of Louisville-based Norton Healthcare; Joe Steier, CEO of Louisville-based Signature Healthcare and Yasmine Winkler of the central region of  UnitedHealthcare Inc.’s community and state business, which focuses on administering Medicaid plans for states.

Forward Focus
Cox discussed the rich legacy of innovation in Louisville, with risk taking and successes that shouldn’t be forgotten. Cox cited several examples, “The first pediatric heart transplant, as well as the second artificial heart implant were both in Louisville. Also, healthcare giant, Humana, started here.”

And don’t forget that Louisville is home to America’s largest cluster of aging care businesses, such as nursing homes, home-based healthcare, hospice and other senior living services.

Cox said that Louisville has the concentration and quality of healthcare providers to find innovative ways to improve the delivery of healthcare. Those insights could be applied industry wide.

All Eyes on Kentucky
Steier commented on the amount of healthcare legislation in Frankfort this year, which is more than years past and credited it to the collaboration occurring between healthcare leaders. The panelists agreed that the nation will be watching closely as Kentucky rolls out its first-in-the-nation plan to require many Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or train for a job.

At least eight other Republican-led states are hoping to follow — a ninth, Indiana, has already won permission to do so.

Winkler said, “Things have to be implemented correctly. It has to be noiseless.”

Cox agreed, “We can’t get it wrong. How we execute on the waiver is so important.” Cox is optimistic and sees it as an opportunity.

Consumer Centered
Patients should treat healthcare and health insurance like other consumer products, but this has been slow to catch on. All three panelists said that healthcare needs to be more  consumer driven.

Winkler said, “The consumer should be at the center, making choices and comparison shopping as when they research and compare when buying a car or an iPhone.”

Also, transparency is needed, making it easier for consumers to find information related to money, quality and outcomes, such as infection rates. Winkler said UnitedHealthcare is trying to help its enrollees make more consumer-driven decisions by providing cost and quality data through online customer portals.

Where can we improve? Cox stressed the importance of allowing patients the ability to do things such as scheduling their own appointments, comparison shopping, getting immediate results and  having a treatment plan start immediately.

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