At 5:45 a.m. on April 8, the sky is still dark and much of New Haven is still asleep. I meet a small group of Yale students in Evans Hall, joining a catering staff already preparing for the day. Even with the knowledge that our dedicated logistics team has every detail mapped out and ready to execute, I can’t help but to check that all of our sponsor materials are still intact from their placement the previous night. Northwell Health, Cigna, Medtronic, and Emergent Biosolutions are among the 20-plus sponsors of the conference, partnerships forged by our sponsorship team. After setting up banners, preparing registration tables, and organizing volunteer groups, our team anxiously awaits the attendees of the 12th annual Yale Healthcare Conference. The first of nearly 500 registrants are due to arrive at any moment.
The day kicks off with an early breakfast, a brief introduction, and then the morning keynote speech. Held in the Zhang Auditorium, the conference’s two keynote speeches pack the venue’s capacity, capturing the attention of the conference’s varied audience—from physicians to consultants and entrepreneurs to scientists, among others. We welcome Dr. Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, and Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, as the keynote speakers. They both highlight this year’s forward-looking theme, “Creating Value and Sustaining Gains: The Next Decade in Healthcare.” While the horizon may look very different to an individual at the helm of an $8 billion healthcare system than it does to one who is leading an organization paving the way to better hospital-quality measures, many of the same challenges touch both organizations as they strive to fulfill their mission statements. Conversations about cost, quality incentives, and the social determinants of health are ever-present in their words of wisdom and throughout the conference discussions.
Next, nearly 50 speakers are invited to participate in 16 breakout sessions. When designing these panels, the conference organizers reflected on the thoughts of the healthcare community as we, too, cast our gazes forward and set a sharp spotlight on the forefront issues of this decade. For example, disruptive technology is one such topic highlighted on the popular executive panel moderated by Dr. Robert Galvin. Is an industry as conservative and heavily regulated as healthcare ready to embrace a faster-paced startup culture?
Two keynotes, one executive panel, and 16 breakout sessions later, the attendees as well as the organizers (especially) are ready for the networking cocktail hour. As the conference winds down around 6 p.m., the executive committee is, finally, afforded a moment to reflect on the past 12 hours. In the months preceding the event, I was often struck by the number of individuals requesting to speak at the conference. It is often the most passionate individuals who will travel for hours to find a way to project their voices further than the walls of their workplace, and from their words, we see that today’s motivated leaders do not see social and business issues as separate entities in healthcare. Discussions concerning the change from volume-based to value-based models, for example, extend beyond the ability to integrate the model into a viable business and into probing and quantifying the impact on patient quality of life. The need for designed incentives that align the interests of payers, patients, and providers highlights the industry’s demand for leaders that are thinking about business and society.
This experience was an enormous undertaking that began nine months ago, and the success of the conference depended on the efforts of many. The 2016 co-chairs would like to take this opportunity to again thank the executive committee, speakers, sponsors, attendees, advisory board, and faculty advisors for their involvement in the 2016 Yale Healthcare Conference. We hope to see you again next year!