RHP6 Healthcare Innovation: Everything is Bigger in Texas

Published on September 5, 2019

By Mike Hartwell, Director of Business Development

The saying goes that “everything is bigger in Texas,” but is that the case for healthcare innovation and regional collaboration? I’m glad to say I got the opportunity to travel down and find out for myself at the RHP6 Learning Collaborative and Stakeholder Forum held in San Antonio, TX, earlier this summer. I was honored to be the sole Minnesotan at the conference (yah sure u betchya) and take in a day full of care delivery innovation and collaboration in Texas managed care. What’s RHP6? Texas Regional Healthcare Partnerships – RHP number 6 is San Antonio and the surrounding counties. (Think regional health players collaborating and innovating for better outcomes.)

The opening remarks at the forum were spot on and set the stage: the transformation of healthcare is underway, and organizations must stay mission-focused (and this mission must be centered in care delivery improvement, informed by the embrace of technology, and motivated by compassion to serve the community).

I was particularly interested in the topic of social determinants of health (SDoH) and how Texas was innovating in this hotly debated healthcare topic. As Signify Community President James Rubin addressed in his keynote speech, solving SDoH requires community alliances – a relevant theme for the software platform that connects providers, payers, and community based organizations for a longitudinal member record. His speech did not leave anyone in the audience disappointed as he delved into the stark realities of today’s healthcare landscape and made a call to action for healthcare transformation and to redefine SDoH. Here’s the reality:

  • Within the next five years, 1/3 Americans will be on Medicaid.
  • By 2025, 1/5 Americans will be on Medicare.
  • Half of all Medicare beneficiaries had savings below $74,000 per person in 2016.
  • As of 2016, 8% of Medicare beneficiaries had $0 in savings or were in debt and half of all Medicare beneficiaries had home equity below $71,000 per person.
  • 24% of Medicare beneficiaries had $0 in home equity.

These staggering statistics highlight an uncertain future for the rising Medicare population and call attention to the need for healthcare to take a wholistic approach to a human’s health and to start addressing the 60% that is determined by their outside surroundings. It makes me proud that I have the opportunity to help impact and bring light to this 60% of the equation with Carrot Health allowing for more informed and appropriate healthcare interactions.

Another salient point in the keynote was the need to get a consistent “value of health” and not to “medicalize social needs.” This also resonated with me as our Carrot Health team is working tirelessly to be thought leaders in the space and research evidence-based interventions tied to SDoH… all to drive software development for better outreach and improved outcomes. Kudos to the Carroteers for all of their hard work!

One thing is clear: SDoH is clearly buzzing right now, and it’s evidenced by the industry’s major players making major investments into this area (see Kaiser, CVS/Aetna, etc). All states seem to be approaching SDoH a bit differently, however. Texas certainly is aware of the major disparities that occur in its communities due to social determinants of health and working hard to address them. The forum’s poster presentation was a testament to how multiple hospital systems are outlining and meeting their objectives. Teamwork really does make the dream work – or at least contributes to the dream – as there’s still a long way to go.

Texas, as well as the rest of the nation, is observing as other states take innovative approaches to addressing SDoH and make strides to tie reimbursement and risk adjustment to these factors. The transformation of healthcare is underway, and we are all waiting to see how it plays out.

Here are a few other notables from my trip to San Antonio:

  • Holy cyber security! The University Health System CTO showed us this, and I may not be getting sleep anytime soon. Shout out to all the Cyber Securists out there.
  • Great presentation about Morgan’s Wonderland. It’s an amazing vision and innovative approach to special needs in the community.
  • Things I didn’t do this time in San Antonio: river walk, line dance at a cowboy bar, wear snake-skin cowboy boots, or visit Whataburger a record-5 times in a 2.5-day stretch.  

All in all, this was a great trip witnessing a true collaborative of healthcare professionals working together to transform healthcare delivery.   

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