THR, Aetna, and Texas Health Aetna Leaders Gather to Discuss Their New Joint Venture

Aetna president Gary Loveman, Texas Health Aetna CEO Jeff Cook, and Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan discuss the newest joint venture. (Photo by: Olivia Nguyen)

Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan; Gary Loveman, Aetna’s vice president of consumer health and services; and newly appointed Texas Health Aetna CEO Jeff Cook sat together in a Hyatt Regency conference room Friday morning to discuss Texas Health Aetna, a new joint venture between the health system and the insurance provider.

The VIP event featured THR and Aetna leaders and team members voicing their questions and concerns to Berdan, Loveman, and Cook. The first query to the trio addressed concerns about how the joint venture will impact healthcare. Cook, who said “healthcare has been stagnant lately,” said it’s up to organizations like THR and Aetna to “push the catalyst for change.”

The new venture focuses on improving population health and pushing value-based care, Loveman said. “For the first time, we have a unified set of initiatives [across different health organizations] that are based around improving health,” he said.

A major theme throughout the conversation was keeping healthcare local. Berdan said one appealing aspect of partnering with Aetna was the fact that the insurance provider “focuses on local … to craft an ecosystem that allows for members to make better choices.”

According to Cook, the new partnership is unique. His goal as the “middle man” between THR and Aetna is “to be more transparent about quality and cost of care. … When you’re sitting in the middle of a health system and a payer, you’re going to have interesting conversations,” he said.

Loveman noted that Aetna and THR have worked more cohesively than might have been expected. “There’s ‘history’ between insurers and hospitals, but I think it’s unnecessary,” he said. “I want to note that Berdan and his team have been fantastic.”

They also discussed shifting the dynamic away from “fee-for-service” models. “I don’t want to be in the payer system,” Loveman said. “I want to be in the health system. I don’t want to be a residual person saying yes or no.”

Toward the end of the session, the trio was asked what are they are doing collectively to resolve access to emergent care services. Replied Cook: “We’re working toward providing innovative services [through Texas Health Aetna]. We’re rolling out an emergency app to get access to local ER physicians. We’re learning how people want immediate access to healthcare.”