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Leadership Summit Session: The Future of Healthcare

By The Policy Circle Team

On Friday, November 15, engaged community members, Circle leaders, and influencers from across the country convened in Chicago for the 4th Policy Circle Leadership Summit. More than 350 women and men participated in conversations and workshops that encouraged  them to think about the broad implications of living and leading in a connected world while honing their leadership and engagement skills. The following is a recap from an afternoon session presented at the Summit. 


Dr. Najah Musacchio, Circle Leader; Pediatrician

Angela Braly, The Policy Circle

Administrator Seema Verma, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

The healthcare industry faces difficulties upgrading to new technologies due to the complexity of medical systems and massive amounts of data hospitals generate. Stanford found that fewer than one-third of hospitals can electronically “find, send, receive, and integrate patient information from another provider” – most hospitals still fax paperwork. What if this information was more accessible, both for patients and healthcare providers?

Telehealth” uses technologies such as videoconferencing, wireless communications, and the Internet to offer quality healthcare and manage costs effectively through virtual check-ins, mobile apps, electronic medical records, and remote digital health monitoring.

One the one hand, using digital and pharmaceutical technologies can turn healthcare from a “high-cost destination” to a “low-cost delivery system.” Currently, the U.S. government spends $1.5 trillion on healthcare annually, close to 18% of GDP.  A good portion of federal spending comes from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS provides Medicaid and Medicare benefits to close to 100 million Americans, which amounted to a combined total of just under $1.3 trillion in 2017. For employer provided health insurance, annual premiums in 2019 exceeded $20,000 for families and $7,000 for individuals. Using technology can help patients take control of their care in their own homes, which can reduce exorbitant costs by adding value and empower patients.

On the other hand, once different hospitals and healthcare systems start sharing data (take a look at Google’s Project Nightingale), it may become unclear which parties own which data sets, and data breaches in healthcare tend to cost more than any other industry due to HIPAA fines and lawsuits (a uniquely American system). Some patients may also feel that remote digital health monitoring by healthcare providers and insurers is an intrusion on their privacy and a threat to their autonomy over their personal healthcare choices.

When health information from a multitude of patients is aggregated research and treatments can be improved, but at the same time health is incredibly personal,  which only adds complexity to the challenge of formulating healthcare policy. Each of us needs to be part of the dialogue to shape policy that touches our lives. Consider asking:

Your medical provider:

  • What is the goal? Is it better outcome due to more effective follow-through?
  • What kinds of innovative technologies are available?
  • How does your provider use those technologies?
  • How does your provider use/store patient data? 

Your elected officials: 

  • What is the proper balance between innovative patient care and privacy?
  • How can we talk about healthcare policy to ensure technological progress and privacy of health information?

Want to dive deeper into the world of health insurance, prices, and coverage? Visit CMS to see statistics and data on Medicare, Medicaid, recent innovations, and healthcare regulations and guidance. Take a look at The Policy Circle’s Healthcare Overview Brief and more from the 2019 Policy Circle Leadership Summit. 

About The Policy Circle

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Founded in 2015, The Policy Circle provides a fact-based, nonpartisan framework that inspires women living in the same community to connect, learn about and discuss public policies that impact every American. The Policy Circle’s vision is that women across the nation are connected and engaged in their communities, openly sharing their views and taking a leadership role in public policy dialogue on what human creativity can accomplish in a free market economy. 

In just four  years, The Policy Circle has grown to over 3,500 members in more than 296 Circles in 40 states and 3 continents. Based on organic networks of women, it is one of the fastest growing national organizations empowering women to gain the knowledge and confidence to become policy leaders.