I recently attended the annual Health Evolution Summit (HES) in Laguna Beach, California, and while conversation centered around the progress we’ve made in the healthcare industry the past few years, even more was said about the amount and velocity of change that still needs to take place.

Three key topics on the minds of Summit speakers were the need to increase social diversity of thinking, address regulatory issues with new mindsets and implement data strategies to allow more to happen. According to Summit speaker Ken Burdick, CEO at WellCare, ‘Bias can take many forms, is often unconscious and is something to understand and be more thoughtful about.’ A lot was discussed concerning diversity, from city versus rural care settings to how every consumer deserves to receive the best possible care regardless of where they live. As an industry, we’ve made advancements but aren’t yet where we need to be on the topic of diversity.

Discussions concerning regulatory issues clearly addressed the elephant in the room. Policy changes are necessary to support the need to shift toward value-based care, which requires attention to social issues. It has also become increasing obvious that private and public sectors must work together to treat patients in their entirety, not just during a visit to the doctor, clinic or hospital. In many cases, we’re blind to a bloom of social issues that are impacting care costs and quality.  Some of these insights were presented by panelists during the Summit’s round table discussion “Call to Action: Driving Our Industry’s Future,” and led the way for more ambitious talks in the hallways afterward.

Seema Verma, Administrator at CMS, said that ‘regulatory relief is high’ on her agenda. Many people writing healthcare regulations today have not worked outside the government in years, so they truly don’t know how healthcare works. To combat this, Verma sent regulators to work inside the institutions they were writing regulations for and received feedback from some saying this was one of their most valuable experiences while at CMS. Imagine that…actually understanding what policy you are writing that impacts US humanity. Let’s hope the regulatory needle is moved from such debate and empathy.

Tony Tersigni, CEO at Ascension in St. Louis, the largest not-for-profit health system in the U.S., said it well by sharing, ‘We talk a lot about moving to value and away from fee-for-service. But that change can’t happen until we have the government help us remove some of the obstacles, whether they’re laws or regulations or policies, that were put in place in a fee-for-service era to protect against fraud and abuse, which doesn’t apply today.’

Data Strategies need to be the bedrock of change. One of the most well know tech pioneer in our era, Eric Schmidt former executive chairman of Google and its parent company Alphabet – presented “Tremors from the Coming Data Quake,” discussing his vision on how to handle the accumulation of data from digitized healthcare assets, the Internet, and the many machines and devices that collect data from all of us. John the interviewer, chairman of venture investing firm Kleiner Perkins in California, was a founding investor in both Amazon and Google. Battling fragmented data is one of his interests and an insightful interview with him appeared last year in Forbes.

Eric is just as enthusiastic about the transformative potential of health data. He believes that ‘a future where a combination of cloud storage, advanced analytics and an enormous pile of diverse data is just waiting for the killer app to put it all to work.’

Gail Boudreaux, CEO at Anthem, spoke on why it’s important for healthcare companies needing to enhance data strategies to partner with new, up-and-coming players and provide affordable care to patients, noting, ‘We want partners who can integrate. We don’t want to have partners who are going to solve a small piece of the puzzle because I think in the end, no one is solving the whole outcome.’ She shared that Anthem is currently innovating through partnerships including one for blockchain technology to help improve data sharing.

Increasing diversification. Decreasing regulation. Implementing data strategies. While certainly not simple tasks, they’re very doable given the right amount of time and determination. Not today, not tomorrow – but (fingers crossed) in the new few years, with industry thought-leaders and innovators at the helm, some of these key initiatives will become bubble up into our daily reality. I’m excited to spectate, invest, gospelize and do whatever I can to help make this possible ‘integrated’ roadmap ‘actual’.

Michael Hollis, President Strategic Business at emids, oversees the company’s marketing and sales operations. He is responsible for overall sales effectiveness, business development and client relationships, as well as for articulating the company’s service offerings to prospective clients and industries. Michael is an active member of Nashville’s professional and nonprofit community, serving on several advisory boards and as a committee member of the Nashville Technology Council and the Nashville Health Care Council’s Leadership Health Care initiative. Be sure to connect with Michael on LinkedIn.