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Summit in Minneapolis ponders the future of health care

October 10, 2018

If the health care industry is on the verge of embracing transformation, Minnesota is at the crossroads of forces driving that change.

That was a key message Tuesday in the Minneapolis Convention Center, where hundreds of people are gathering this week for the first-ever Manova Global Summit on the Future of Health.

“My own personal belief [is] that we are sitting at an inflection point. We are on the precipice,” said Jodi Hubler, managing director of Minneapolis’ Lemhi Ventures, introducing an in-depth panel discussion on how the investor community is reacting to the rise in nontraditional players entering the health care space.

The Manova conference itself — its name a nod to Medical Alley and innovation — is a nontraditional player, having gone from, as the program put it, “a concept scratched with notes across a legal pad” six months ago to a production with national-level speakers and a thousand registered attendees.

Political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin held forth on today’s bitter political climate. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist discussed health care ventures that use virtual reality and telemedicine to disrupt the existing overly expensive system.

The three-day event, which ends Wednesday, combines disparate areas of economic strength in Minnesota, including the state’s robust health care, retail and technology sectors. Major sponsors include Walmart, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Public Radio, the University of St. Thomas and the Minnesota-based Medical Alley Association, reflecting the event’s diverse agenda.

Some of the sessions were lofty chin-scratchers, others were downright commercial: Some presenters showed actual commercials for their wares on the big screen during talks, to illustrate their points.

“Hopefully you can all be a part of this. It is definitely the next big thing,” said Dr. James Mault, president and chief medical officer of CQuentia, a Texas-based precision medicine firm that uses patients’ genomic data to determine whether a medication will work for them.

Amir Dan Rubin, CEO of national primary-care clinic chain One Medical Group, said his company’s patient-centered clinics offer quicker and more personalized service, reduce physician burnout, and please employers who are now paying almost $20,000 a year to sponsor a single family insurance plan.

The analytic power of artificial intelligence was invoked often in Manova presentations, as were strategies to move more health care out of expensive hospitals and into cheaper settings closer to patients, who are often referred to as consumers.

“Anything outside the hospital, we like a lot. AI, we like a lot,” said Kathy Tune, co-founder and managing director of Minneapolis’ Fourth Element Capital, which invests in early-stage health care companies.

“AI is extremely important as it relates to all the data that are being generated out there. The data are extraordinarily valuable. But the massive amounts of data create a dynamic for the hospital and physician that is not manageable.”

Health care has been on the verge of reinventing itself for decades, driven by many factors, including massive amounts of new data. Yet widespread dissatisfaction with the costs and outcomes of the U.S. health care system among patients, doctors, and employers has not translated into long-sought changes such as large-scale reductions in waste.

Health care comprises about 18 cents of every dollar spent in the world’s largest economy, yet more than 20 percent of that spending does nothing to improve patient health — which has remained true despite all recent efforts at reinvention.

Former Medicare Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, who lives in Edina, told the lunch-hour audience Tuesday that they should ask hospital CEOs how much expense could be taken out of the system if they just had to care for patients and not worry about driving higher hospital revenue.

“If you ask this of most hospital CEOs, you’ll hear a number that is somewhere from about 25 percent to a third,” Slavitt said. “Meaning, we understand that we are building a system that is helping us generate revenue; it’s not meant to generate better patient care and better patient outcomes.”

And relying on new government-driven incentive programs like bundled payments, capitation and value-based care is just going to give the system “new ways to make money,” rather than cutting costs, he said.

Joe Carlson • 612-673-4779

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