AHIP 2014 Takeaways

During my flight back home from the 2014 America’s Health Insurance Plans Institute conference, I began to reflect on my personal takeaways and observations from the event. America’s Health Insurance Plan Institute, or simply AHIP, is the national trade association that represents the health insurance marketplace. I have been attending AHIP for the past five years and the conference gets better and more informative each year. Compared to other industry trade shows, AHIP is on a smaller scale. However, what the conference lacks in size it more than makes up for in content. The smaller environment allows attendees to really spend more time building relationships and learning from each other. In fact, this is precisely why it is one of my favorite shows to attend each year.

Since 1989, I have been involved in hundreds of market research projects for the healthcare industry and have certainly witnessed many changes. However, the changes happening in healthcare today are unprecedented. I had many great conversations with attendees at AHIP this year and they all seemed to share the same opinion.

The total size of the health insurance market is close to a trillion dollar industry and represents a notable portion of the US GDP. So, in my opinion, in order to get a good glimpse at were the healthcare industry is headed, you just follow the money and need not look any further than AHIP to get a peek into the crystal ball. Assuming this opinion is valid, here are a few glimpses into the very near future:

  • Due to sky-rocketing costs of the U.S. healthcare system, there is a well-documented and publicized emphasis to shift from fee-for-service to quality based pay-for-performance. Most of the press has centered their focus on health care providers with this shift. However, due to its enormous share in healthcare costs, it is the payer side of the healthcare equation that is just as, if not more motivated to see this shift through. Therefore, it is a safe bet that any vendors that are currently focused on developing products that focus on the patient and controlling costs and quality stand to be big winners this year and for many years to come.
  • Building on my aforementioned thoughts about the focus on the patient, there were many startup companies at AHIP and several were focused on patient outcomes, patient engagement, population health and remote monitoring. Patients are obviously people, and we know from personal experiences that people are completely consumed with their mobile devices these days. Therefore, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is quickly turning to mobility, or mHealth, to fill gaps. I work with a few clients that are exploring mHealth and I am particularly excited about the future of this industry.
  • Due to Meaningful Use incentives and a push to increase quality and control costs, healthcare, in large part, has become electronic. The important byproduct of the eHealth movement is data. Payers are focused on pay-for-performance, quality, and patient outcomes and are relying heavily on data and data analytics for this. Therefore, the idea of Big Data is certainly playing out and this was very evident at AHIP.

AHIP 2014 was well put together and well received by the attendees. Bottom line, the most important and really exciting takeaway from AHIP is the shared believe that with all of the change and new challenges come tremendous opportunity for those of us that serve the healthcare industry and its patients.