ThedaCare shares vision of becoming population health leader

Posted on Oct 22, 2019 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

ThedaCare President and CEO Imran Andrabi speaking to community leaders at a community breakfast on Oct. 18.

At a breakfast for community leaders last week, ThedaCare may have been marking the 110th anniversary of the opening of its first hospital, but President and CEO Imran Andrabi’s message was focused on the future rather than the past.

Andrabi took the occasion to lay out the health care organization’s vision for becoming a national leader in population health. As health care costs continue to soar, it’s vital for ThedaCare to identify the determinants that affect people’s health and address risks before they become acute, he said.

“If we want a different outcome and we want the trajectories to be different, then we need to start changing the way we do our work,” he told the event’s more than 125 attendees.

Annual health care spending has reached $3.75 trillion, accounting for approximately 19 percent of the gross domestic product. Projections show that figure will hit $4.7 trillion within the next five years and between $6 trillion and $7 trillion within the next decade.

In Wisconsin, annual health care spending is higher than the national average, Andrabi said. The state is ranked No. 7 nationwide for health care spending.

Health care premium increases negatively impact employers, Andrabi said. On average, employers see a 12 percent year-over-year increase in premium costs. In addition, the high costs disproportionately affect lower-income individuals, and health care issues are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy, he said.

The profits don’t benefit consumers, the government or even health care organizations but rather health insurance companies and drug and medical device companies, he said. The four largest health insurance companies made $7 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Andrabi said he wasn’t seeking to blame parties but rather to make the point that the system is set up for the outcomes it’s creating.

To improve outcomes, it’s essential for ThedaCare to work with the community and understand people from a physical, social and genetics point of view, he said. The company plans to increase its focus on using data analytics to better understand community needs.

In addition, Andrabi discussed the evolving nature of health care and the ways consumer expectations are evolving. People expect health care on demand, and the model of offering services only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. is outdated, he said.

ThedaCare’s biggest competitors going forward will not be other health care systems but rather Google, Amazon, CVS and Walgreens. Many disruptors are entering the market, and they have no patience for the “legacy of health care,” he said.

The Appleton-based organization stands on the precipice of change, Andrabi said, comparing the situation to straddling two canoes. One represents how economics and health care have traditionally worked. In this model, the more a company does, the more it gets paid. The other represents a value model that calls for managing the health of the population and getting paid for the benefits that creates.

“Everybody is still hanging on to the old model, but everyone wants us to act as if we’re in the new model, and that is what we need to change,” he said.