It’s been an amazing three days of RISE National 2021!

We kicked off the day with an inspirational video montage presentation of RISE’s highest quality award, the Martin L. Block Award for Clinical Excellence and Innovation, to our 2021 recipient: Dr. Heather O’Toole, chief medical officer, Innovation Care Partners, a clinically integrated network and an accountable care organization in Arizona. Dr. O’Toole was selected out of an impressive field of 11 nominees due to her long-standing dedication to excellence with her leadership spanning a broad range of colleagues, including practicing physicians, care coordinators, and analysts.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Luciana Borio blew us away with her candid assessment on COVID-19, the United States’ response, the vaccine distribution timeline, and the impact of the pandemic on health care. In a conversation with RISE National Conference Chair Ana Handshuh, Dr. Borio said the United States didn’t respond adequately in the early months of the virus, as indicated by the millions of cases in the United States and the death toll, which currently is at 549,000. She said that one of the country’s biggest failures was the denial about the virus and the promotion of unfounded treatments and ideas to achieve herd immunity. However, she gives the United States high marks for our vaccine program. Although we will see improvements and life slowly returning to normal over the course of the next year, Dr. Borio advised Americans to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid indoor dining and indoor socialization with strangers.  Meanwhile, she advices health care professionals to watch for mental health and isolation issues that are emerging, particularly among seniors who fear leaving their homes, and for conditions that may exacerbate because so many Americans deferred care in the last year.

Attendees then split into concurrent track sessions covering the journey to value-based care success, how artificial intelligence continues to transform and improve health care, why telehealth is here to stay and its new path forward, and how to drive results by better understanding your data.

We joined together for a compelling keynote address with Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., pediatrician & author, Mama Doc Medicine, who spoke about how digital innovations can enhance the patient experience. Dr. Swanson discussed how the new tech landscape offers outstanding, innovative opportunities for efficient, yet humanistic, exchange of information in healthcare. The key she said, is to create a dual-centric system that meets the needs of both the patient and the provider. In her highly inspirational talk, Dr. Swanson talked about the lessons from outside our industry that we can leverage within our industry. She challenged us to not sit on the sidelines, but rather to think outside the box and fully engage with our members and patients in completely new and innovative ways.

After a break from sessions over luncheon virtual roundtables, we jumped back into concurrent track sessions with industry experts to learn more about pre-chase and performance analytics, member engagement initiatives, the data log, a compliance and regulatory update for the Affordable Care Act market, a PCP-centric approach to risk adjustment and quality, member experience, NLP integration, and the latest risk adjustment litigation cases and lessons learned.

We came together for our final keynote address with author and health care futurist Ian Morrison, who offered insights on the future of the health care marketplace. Morrison discussed implications of health care policy based on the new Biden administration, the continued impact of COVID-19, and mega-trends such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the intersection of social determinants of health and digitalization. Morrison emphasized the way in which “the game” of finances in health care is played in America, with costs continually increasing and certain services are more expensive than ever before. While there’s been substantial disruptions in the health care industry, Morrison sees huge opportunities for digital innovations, such as consumer applications to enhance the patient and member experience, chronic care and behavioral health applications, post-acute care transitions, population health initiatives, operations 2.0 core systems, and a rise of virtual care capabilities and competitors.

That's a wrap

Conference chair Ana Handshuh and RISE Risk Adjustment Policy Member David Meyer wrapped up the conference by reflecting on the amazing keynote presentations over the three days, the strong presence of government and regulatory officials from CMS, OIG and NCQA, and the running theme of the impact of COVID-19 on the health care industry and the need for a phased-in return to normal. One big takeaway, they said, is that the pandemic has shown that broadband access and connectivity should be considered a social determinant of health.