Karen Ignagni, CEO of the three-million-member EmblemHealth insurance and wellness company, has a vision for the future of healthcare in this country, and she is bringing that future to her own organization now.
Recognized as one of the most powerful people in healthcare from her work on employee benefits for large unions, representing the large AHIP trade association of insurance companies, and consulting with the federal government to reform healthcare, Ignagni told me during a recent interview for The CEO Show that she sees the future of healthcare this way: technology is going to facilitate care that is more personalized; care for mental health and physical health will come together; and the population will have more support outside of hospitals to keep themselves healthy.
Ignagni began the transformation of EmblemHealth, one of the nation’s largest non-profit health insurers, when she joined the New York City-based group in 2015. In the past year alone Ignagni and her team have launched two incubator initiatives that put EmblemHealth at the forefront of innovating for the future.
One of the incubator partnerships is HealthReveal, a start-up that aggregates and curates the latest in medical research and data-driven best practices to serve as a powerful tool for EmblemHealth’s partner, AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY), one of New York’s largest primary and specialty care practices. She said it is impossible for any doctor to keep up on all new research and clinical applications in real time.
HealthReveal utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze a patient’s medical data, supporting clinicians in applying the latest clinical evidence and medical guidelines to the treatment of chronic disease before potentially catastrophic complications occur. Ignagni said the emphasis on proactive care is aligned with a coordinated approach for general population health and reflects ACPNY’s commitment to putting evidence-based care into practice, delivering enhanced results and controlling costs.
Support in community
Another of EmblemHealth’s incubator partnerships is with Cityblock Health, a start-up addressing the medical, behavioral and social needs of low-income neighborhoods through highly personalized, integrated and coordinated care. This demonstrates what Ignagni said about mental and physical healthcare coming together.
Cityblock works through non-hospital physician centers out in the communities and offers information and support intended to help people stay healthy and avoid emergency rooms.
With Cityblock, EmblemHealth’s Neighborhood Care centers are tackling what Ignagni calls “the social determinants of health” head-on – making sure the communities’ most vulnerable citizens have access to transportation, housing, nutritious food, and all the other building blocks that help them to stay healthy.
During our interview Ignagni also talked about the need for healthcare cost containment in this country. “To maintain the promise of access (to healthcare) we need to deal with the cost, or we won’t be able to sustain the vision of that promise,” she said.
She refers to the very difficult problem as “the Gordian Knot” because “one person’s cost containment is another person’s revenue reduction.”
The private sector, including the pharmaceutical companies, and the public sector both need “to step up” to keep the promise of healthcare sustainable.
To listen to the interview with Karen and other CEOs go to The CEO Forum Group