Five Take Away Thoughts From the 2017 GLHC Summit Series

Written by: Brian Mack

It’s hard to believe that we are quickly approaching the end of the 2017 GLHC Summit Series! Planning began back in January, continuing since then with weekly meetings and many phone calls and emails. The Summits are day-long, educational conferences, offering opportunities for healthcare stakeholders and health information technology professionals in Michigan to share common experiences and best practices. We intentionally offer these events at no cost, and host them across the state in order to make it as easy as possible for our participants and stakeholders to attend. This year, the planning team here at GLHC committed to delivering six separate events between May and October – an ambitious goal to be sure! As I write this post we have successfully completed five events and are looking forward to the final Summit to be hosted in Grand Rapids on October 4.

Summit Series 2017

Putting together the Summit Series is labor intensive and often an all-absorbing process. But the payoff for us is having the opportunity to interact with many of the smartest and most committed healthcare delivery and Health IT thought leaders in Michigan.  The insights that we gain during these meetings are invaluable to our organization in helping us better understand the needs of the healthcare community across the state. From the feedback that we have received to date, it is also apparent that the Summit Series has value for attendees in distilling some of the issues that are directly impacting the delivery of care.

Here is just a small sampling of some of the common themes that have surfaced in the Summit Series thus far:

  1. No One is an Island

Amidst the highly dynamic and ever-changing healthcare delivery landscape is the realization and an appreciation for common experience. The significance of this revelation should not be casually dismissed. It is common to be so focused on our own organizational perspective, that we lose sight of the collective healthcare delivery landscape. Understanding that individuals and organizations, regardless of specialty or geography, experience similar challenges as we work toward achieving REAL healthcare reform, builds a sense of community and unity of purpose.


  1. The Time for Integrated Care is NOW!

Behavioral Health Parity is the recognition that behavioral and physical well-being are inextricably connected. The proposition that access, delivery, and payment for behavioral health services should be given the same priority as preventative primary care has been a topic of debate among providers, payers, and politicians for decades. New approaches to integrated care delivery and payment reform, initiated since passage of the Affordable Care Act, have contributed significantly to broad acceptance of integrated care concepts that incorporate both the patient’s physical and behavioral health into their total wellness picture. This “new normal” has been very evident over the course of the 2017 Summit Series season. Care integration is no longer viewed just as novel idea, solely demonstrated in isolated pilot projects. We have heard loud and clear across Michigan that the integration of Behavioral Health is inevitable, and the direction that health care delivery is moving today.

  1. Gaps in PHI are the same as Data Blocking

The issue of data blocking is persistent. It reached fever pitch following an investigation by the Office of the National Coordinator in 2015. They concluded that some instances of interference were evident, and provisions were included in the “21st Century Cures Act” to address such abuses. It also seems clear that false accusations of data blocking have increased, as some companies attempt to gain advantage over their competitors. How this issue plays out at the national policy level is immaterial as a practical matter for Summit attendees. What is clear from their feedback is a growing expectation that ALL of a patient’s information WILL be available at the point of care – preferably within the EHR, but at the very least accessible via a central community health record. It was strongly inferred in these conversations that gaps in health data created by competition at the system level IS negatively perceived as data blocking by the provider community.

  1. Technology helps achieve the Triple Aim

The theme of the 2017 GLHC Summit Series is “Connected Community Impact”. Our intent is to provide a forum for the provider community to share experiences, opportunities, challenges, and success stories. We have hoped to demonstrate how the healthcare sector is collectively and collaboratively enhancing patient experience, improving quality & outcomes, and reducing costs. The feedback that we have received, both from presenters and attendees, is that yes in fact progress IS being made. Health information technology and information exchange are effecting positive change at the point of care. THAT feedback is great affirmation and a powerful incentive, motivating all of us here at GLHC to keep pushing forward!

  1. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

An observation that I and others have made on many occasions is that the journey from volume to value in healthcare is (obviously) a massive undertaking. We’re talking about shifting decades of established and change-averse practice standards in what is one of the most complex, personally sensitive, and heavily regulated businesses in the world. In retrospect, the gains that have been made since President George W. Bush made his healthcare “moonshot” statement in 2004 are nothing short of astounding. We ARE advancing toward the goal, and should embrace and celebrate that progress. At the same time, healthcare is so personal, so integral to our lives, and exists in the midst of a world where technology is evolving at breakneck speed. It’s easy to assume that the pace of change is too slow, and to grow frustrated with that perceived lack of momentum. Summit attendees across the state expressed recognition of this dynamic, agreeing that our collective destination is visible on the horizon, but there are miles to go before we rest. The clear consensus is that we are all collectively in it for the long haul – yet more affirmation!

Are you intrigued? There is one final chance to take advantage of this dynamic learning and networking opportunity this year. Our final GLHC Summit Series event of the season is on October 4th, from 8:30 – 4:00 pm at the Calvin College Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids. Limited seating is still available. There is no cost to attend, but registration IS required.

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