The first full day of RISE West 2020 is on the books and what a day we had!

Co-chairs Ana Handshuh, principal, CAT5 Strategies, and Dave Meyer, vice president, risk adjustment and quality, Cigna, surprised us by joining the conference remotely but live from Nashville. The two (who could give Kelly and Ryan a run for their money as talk show hosts) showed us what a hybrid approach to live conferences looks like and gave us a sneak peek at what hotel guests can expect when they travel again (wrapped hand sanitizer and a television remote in plastic).



The virtual conference started off with a bang when our first speaker Brent Gleeson, Navy Seal combat veteran & leadership, culture and engagement expert, gave a motivational keynote that included compelling stories from the battlefield and how it prepared him for leadership in times of crisis. His advice to those leading their organizations during COVID-19: Prioritize the culture of your organization including the beliefs, core values, and guiding principles. “The most important foundation of any high performing organization, especially in times of crisis, is to build and train culture,” said Gleeson. “The culture of an organization, for better or worse, drives the outcome.”



The morning continued with a short history lesson and brilliant political insight from John E. McDonough, DrPh, MPA, professor of public health practice, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on what health care policy may look like under another term with President Trump or Democratic nominee Vice President Joe Biden. McDonough examined Trump’s health policy record while in office, weighed in on Biden’s health care agenda, and discussed why we may be on the brink of a new era in health policy.



Next, a payer perspective panel moderated by Sean Creighton, vice president of federal policy, Humana, discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic will influence 2021 risk and quality scores and how the absence of documentation due to COVID-related seclusions could impact risk adjustment next year. Panelists Mark Dodge of Bright Health Plan, Tom Lutzow of Independent Care Health Plan, and Jason McDaniel of Intermountain Healthcare shared the steps their plans have taken to mitigate the situation, including the pivot to telehealth visits, strategies to better connect with members to access care, and the safe return to face-to-face visits.



We then had an opportunity to network in the Exhibit Hall and at 13 sponsored roundtable sessions that featured discussions on everything from improving quality scores and member engagement to maximizing savings and quality post-COVID, telehealth code capture for risk adjustment, and strategies to prepare for the CAHPS weighting.


Delegates then split into two concurrent tracks for the afternoon: Risk Adjustment and Quality or Innovations and Response to COVID-19. Industry leaders shared their expertise on how to recover from the pandemic and prepare for 2021, the new era of telehealth and the implications on risk adjustment, how providers and payers can collaborate post-COVID-19, what’s working for other health plans operationalizing telehealth on the ground; a case study on EDS error correction, and the impact of COVID-19 and telehealth coding guidance on RADV audits.



We then reunited for a special presentation from Chief Derek Bergsten, the chief fire officer and chief EMS officer for Rockford Fire Department, about the department’s collaborative social determinants of health (SDoH) program that has reduced emergency department visits, ambulance runs, and hospital admissions in the state of Illinois. During his presentation, Bergsten shared a compelling video that showed us just how powerful collaborative efforts to address SDoH are within a community.



Finally, we ended the day getting ready to laugh with Comedian Steve Hytner, who was scheduled to entertain us during a fun-filled virtual networking reception sponsored by Pulse 8.