2020 Summit Review and Playbook for 2021

For the first time, our annual Emids Healthcare Summit, which wrapped yesterday, was held virtually. As I reflect on all of the planning, logistics, details and all-around hard work that went into making a 3-day completely virtual event happen, I can’t help but think about how the need to pivot – to move an event that for six consecutive years has taken place in-person to a digital format – reflects the state of healthcare over the past nine months. We have all pivoted, not by choice, but out of necessity.

Amid all of the tragedy, turbulence and uncertainty this year has held, there was an overall sense of optimism among Summit speakers about our ability to sustain and build on the progress we’ve made over the past nine months to continue rapid digital transformation. What we heard across conversations this week was that the forced change we’ve all experienced has bettered us – as an industry, as organizations and as professionals. In turn, the members and patients we serve have benefitted.

We’re still digesting learnings gained from our esteemed group of moderators and panelists, but present to you our initial takeaways as food for thought.


“We’re all in this together” has been an often-used mantra beginning with the emergence of COVID-19. A “people vs. the virus” mindset surfaced as we took initiative to slow its spread. Social distancing, quarantining and mask wearing put us on the same team, and when we all put on the same jerseys, the playing field was leveled.

Physicians got a glimpse, quite literally, into the home lives of patients through visits conducted via video. Genuinely curious to know how patients were faring, conversations that may have been strictly clinical in nature when conducted in-office led to discussions about job loss, housing instability and food security.

With deeper dialogue came enhanced insights. Providers and payers were able to address issues negatively affecting the health and wellness of patients and members. Heather Cox, chief digital and analytics officer at Humana, mentioned the organization’s jumping in to deliver more than 1 million meals to members. Explaining his company’s dedication to being, as it refers to itself, a “health solutions company,” Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of GuideWell, spoke about using office kitchens that once served now homebound employees to prepare food for people in need.

The importance of empathy in the workplace was also discussed. During the pandemic, Geraghty began recording weekly video messages for staff to speak with them directly about their mental health, well-being, operational challenges and what they were hearing first-hand from members.

By being more empathetic, we can markedly improve our relationships with each other, build stronger organizations and expect better health outcomes. “When you have really strong culture and great teammates, you find people rise to the occasion and do a tremendous job of taking care of each other,” summarized Geraghty.


Isolated data. Physical vs. mental health. Payers vs. providers. The silos that have existed in healthcare for too long are numerous, but they are crumbling. The recent Teladoc and Livongo merger is a prime example of it.

While it was agreed that integration across all aspects of healthcare is needed, it won’t be easily realized. Bringing together clinicians, technology and data, while ultimately improving efficiencies, also complicates them.

Integration is already in progress. The focus now and moving forward is how to integrate in an intentional way that provides a seamless experience for the end user.


There was consensus among participants that healthcare’s infrastructure, and the core constructs and models on which the industry was built and has operated, no longer meet our needs. Should telehealth visits be reimbursed at the same rate as in-office appointments? Does a subscription payment model for patients make more sense than charging flat fees for rendered services?

Tackling such a gargantuan topic is no easy feat, but speakers seemed to fall into one of two camps: improve what exists to make it work for us modern day or deconstruct and start from scratch.

In camp A was Brad Smith, deputy administrator and director of The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. He explained what the agency’s recently done to improve payment models, looking at price benchmarking, quality metrics and making member participation voluntary in most models.

On the other end of the spectrum, Anthem’s Rajeev Ronanki posed the question, “What can we do if we reimagine the entire system?” He urged fellow healthcare leaders not to be afraid to innovate and to “be on the lookout” for opportunity.


Panel participants in Tuesday’s discussion on mental health unanimously agreed on the importance of measurement and creating meaningful measures that incentivize, drive behavior and change. How measures of value will be constructed is yet to be determined, but it’s likely they will be shaped by members and patients.

Under the umbrella of measurement, several participants mentioned how their organization’s Net Promoter Scores (NPS) have been positively impacted this year due to concerted efforts to practice whole-person care. The importance of NPS rose with the shift away from fee-for-service and hyper focus on patient experience. NPS are distinct because they measure a patient’s loyalty, a key factor in retention, and subsequently, revenue.

In our panel on AI, Teladoc Health’s Michael Sturmer noted his organization has seen its NPS scores increase across virtual and chronic services, citing the smartphone as a “great equalizer” for its role in providing individuals a different and better way to receive care.

Many organizations have achieved optimal NPS, but the challenge is maintaining high marks post-pandemic.


Trust is exceedingly important in healthcare, particularly as the industry landscape grows increasingly more complex. Relationships are built on trust, and strong relationships lead to better clinical and financial outcomes.

We know that building and sustaining trust across the healthcare ecosystem is necessary, yet it’s easier said than done. So where do we begin?

Dr. Megan Jones Bell, chief science and strategy officer at Headspace, offered a suggestion. “If you trust the experience you’re putting people through, you’ll design a better system.”

Our Charge To You

Our hope is that you take the important discussions that took place this week, continue them with your colleagues and industry partners and feel empowered to make one or more of these ideas actionable. If you need assistance at any point in your journey, Emids is available to help.   

If you joined us at Summit, we encourage you to complete our quick participant survey. Your feedback is critical in ensuring we provide you with valuable and enriching experiences and content.

We hope to see you, in-person, for our 2021 Healthcare Summit.

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.

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