Thriving in the New Healthcare Environment

There were two big takeaways from the Health Industry Council’s 2012 Southwest Healthcare Transactions Conference in Dallas.

First, regardless of whatever shape the health-reform law takes, its impact on delivery transformation will endure. The law has prompted physicians and hospitals—which historically have coexisted warily—to join forces to satisfy payers who are demanding greater value instead of volume. Accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes are rapidly forming to create higher-quality, lower-cost and better-coordinated patient care.

Second, keynote speaker Paul Kusserow of Humana made it clear Dallas-Fort Worth has arrived as a center of healthcare innovation. He listed the North Texas with Boston, San Francisco, Nashville, and Minneapolis.

Most speakers barely mentioned the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Nearly all focused on how best to invest in, and nurture, companies that can thrive in the new healthcare environment. The underlying assumption was that there would be less government reimbursement, regardless of which political party is in power at the federal and state levels.

The conference underscored the fact that healthcare will change significantly by the end of the decade—how it will be paid for, how it will be delivered, and the degree to which employers and government will be willing to underwrite it.