AHIP Institute 2014 Recap: My Impressions of the Show
By Kasey Fahey
After attending the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute 2014 in Seattle, I walked away with a greater knowledge of the current state of the healthcare industry as a whole. AHIP is the national trade association representing the health insurance industry. It is one of the most effective trade associations in Washington, DC.
The choice of Seattle as the hosting city was excellent. It is a top technology hub in the country and I partially credit the incredible coffee for all the innovative thinking.
- The payer industry is poised for huge growth, as are many other sectors of the healthcare IT world. However, as we shift from a fee-for-service industry to pay-for-performance, the collaboration between payers and providers will continue to evolve and blossom in a shared risk model. That said, health plans are just as concerned with outcomes, readmission rates, and population health as the health systems. Many providers are trying to break into the payer space and compete with companies that have already established themselves. There is room for potential collaboration between the two.
- At the show, there were companies of all sizes from startups in growth mode to large, established players in the game. There were many companies focused on claims processing and core administrative platforms and the big data and analytics space. It seems as if vendors both catering to payers and providers are heavily focused on big data and analytics.
- With the population health initiative, I see a lot of potential partnership opportunities for payers and mobile companies to monitor patients at home to reduce readmissions, improve the quality of care, and lower costs simultaneously (the holy trinity of healthcare IT). My colleague Norm Volsky, recently attended the ATA conference in Baltimore and wrote a recap. He mentioned that many of the telehealth / telemedicine vendors are in startup mode with innovative technology, but with a lack of funding or a concrete revenue plan. Many vendors at AHIP mentioned they’d like to create mobile / remote solutions within the upcoming year. With this in mind, a collaboration between the two spaces would allow health plans to use remote patient monitoring without having to develop proprietary solutions and the mobile companies to find the funding they need while sharing their technology with patients.
- This show was significantly smaller than the annual HIMSS conference, where there are vendor booths as big as city blocks and miles upon miles of fancy displays and creative advertising ploys. Institute was more low key, which was also refreshing. There were a little under 200 vendors, and they focused on the meaningful benefits of their solutions without wildly expensive spinning signs from the ceiling. That said, it was not as visually appealing or as easy to tell the huge players in the industry from the rookies based on booth size. I did, however, enjoy Practice Fusion’s creative “Jeopardy” game. The takeaway from this is that the payer vendors seem to focus more on hard ROIs instead of marketing. Their messages and analyses are tight and they seem to have more of a B2B sale than vendors in the provider space.
- I was surprised at the abundance of C-Level executives at the show and the lack of actual health plans. It was primarily all vendors, who mentioned that they expected to be able to meet with health plans for business opportunities. It seems in the provider space that health system and hospital C-level executives are in high attendance at shows like HIMSS, so perhaps there is a lack of participation by health plans.
Overall, the show was nicely done with many speakers and sessions on a variety of topics. As far as the future, the healthcare industry as a whole relies heavily on public policy. However, there is huge growth and partnership potential across the industry and everyone has the same goals in mind: lowering costs, improving care, and reducing readmission rates.
Kasey Fahey is director of payer practice for healthcare IT at Direct Recruiters, Inc. of Cleveland, OH.