Live Blogging the Boston Summit on Transforming Healthcare

Tonight in Boston a series of speakers  are presenting views on the coming transformation of healthcare. (See the web at

Here’s the speaker list—

Opening remarks – Steven Wardell, President, H.I.L. Forum and Summit organizer

Introducing the Keynote – Valerie Fleishman, Executive Director, New England Healthcare Institute

James Roosevelt, Jr., President & CEO of Tufts Health Plan and Democratic National Committee member
Introduction of the Panel – Peter Mueller, Summit organizer
Panel Introductory Remarks and Discussion with Moderator
– Charlie Baker, President & CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
– Jonathan Bush, CEO, Athena health
– John P. Glaser, PhD, CIO, Partners Healthcare
– Panel Moderator: Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy, Boston Globe

Valery Fleishman introduced the keynote speaker. She also commented on some efforts of the New England Healthcare Institute

They have identified 3 areas of healthcare to which they want to attend:
-Create a partnership of the more than 70 eHealth companies in the Greater Boston area.
-Academic research on impact of outcomes – promoting technology
-Inform policy makers
Her comments were  followed by the keynote presented by James Roosevelt:



Every 30 minutes in the US, someone declares bankruptcy due to the cost of healthcare.
Concerns are less in MA, because of our recent health care legislation.

But, the kind of reform that occurred in MA may not scale easily to the rest of the  country.

Roosevelt  reviewed the experience of the early 90’s in the Clinton administration..  Political will was low, and the national desire for change was low. Special interest groups were able to torpedo reform.

Fast forward to present and:
SCHP is one of the  first funding initiatives passed by the present congress.
$17 billion is earmarked for EHRs, support for effectiveness research, and establishment of an innovation investment fund. Clearly the political will and national desire for change are now both high.

Even though there is great economic uncertainty, Roosevelt is optimistic.  This is because Obama has made the need for reform in healthcare central to his plan for economic recovery.

He then talked about the experience at Tufts where the focus has been on:
–    Reduction in variation in care
–     Emphasis on evidence.
–    Investment in preventive care..
These values are shared by the Obama administration.

Roosevelt believes that nonprofit payers have an important role in national plan for universal care.   Specifically the MA plan will  have an influence  on the shape of the national plan that ultimately emerges.  Individual payers (nonprofits) in MA have said in so many words that “if you build it, we’ll figure out how to pay for it”. Similar thinking may or may not be applied nationally.

There are four reforms that will be central:
1)    Ensure quality and effectiveness
2)    Improve primary care system.
3)    Develop nation transparency in cost and quality
4)    Address race and income disparities.

While this is daunting, there is an unprecedented opportunity to reform. Roosevelt firmly believes that this administration will be successful in implementing universal coverage for it’s citizens.

After this keynote, the panel took the stage.


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6 Responses to “Live Blogging the Boston Summit on Transforming Healthcare”

  1. Dan Hoch says:

    As it turns out, live blogging is not easy. Who would of guessed? I will try to summarize the panel discussion at a later date.

  2. I’ll have something to say, too, at some point, but I need to think first.

    Everyone was talking about doctors and systems and money. Patients were *almost* not mentioned, except as a problem. Improving outcomes was not mentioned at all.

    My most interesting discovery of the evening was that people think online patient communities require no funding. Actually they didn’t say that specifically, they said these communities are free – but the logical implication is that they require no funding. Glaser, CIO of Partners Healthcare, acknowledged that it was an oversight in the stimulus package. I’ll talk to him (and anyone else who’ll listen :)) and see what can be done with that.

    It was kind of sobering, actually – the first healthcare event I’ve ever been to where not a soul talked about needing to improve outcomes, i.e. improve our ability to help people get better or to reduce suffering.

  3. Hey Dave,

    why are you surprised?
    They were talking about healthcare improvement. That always means improvement to the bottom line.
    I’ll repeat once again what I have been saying for a while: healthcare reform is too important to be left in the hand of healthcare professionals. Real reform won’t happen until the American public takes control of the process. Which won’t happen until we find a way to explain the numbers associated with this dysfunctional whale. In the meantime, healthcare reform professionals will lament that it is too bad that medicine needs patients and doctors to exist. Or even better, they will just avoid mentioning that need.

  4. Dan Hoch says:

    Gilles, I agree, and don’t want to undermine your central point, that nothing will change until there is extensive participation. But, I need to comment on Dave’s point that improvement of outcomes was not discussed last night (before he launches into a major rant ;-))

    Dave, you know me to be a cynic, but I gotta say that I think impact on outcome was implicit in everything discussed. Living and breathing the air of a hospital, I can say we get “outcome” from every angle these days. We can’t seem to get away from it. And, I’ve spent enough time at IS meetings at Partners, AMIA and many other gatherings to know it’s in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s the gold standard that will used to judge all our innovations whether we3 like it or not. I may be too Pollyanna-ish here, but I think there’s an assumption that everyone knows the outcomes have to be improved, so why talk about it.

    Thus, while I think there were lot’s of things to get really riled up about last night (and I will do so soon) I would give them the benefit of a doubt on their consciousness about improved outcomes.

  5. Hi Dan,

    Very cool that you tried live-blogging the event! I was too busy live tweeting to give it a try myself, but I know from doing it in the past that it isn’t easy at all!

    So I’m Steve Wardell’s friend as well as Anne Marie and Peter Mueller (the tree organizers of last night’s event). I actually spearheaded all of the social media iniatives including the Twitter account, the Uservoice questions, and the maintenance of the H.I.L. Forum website.

    I am really committed to taking the momentum and energy from last night and finding a way to give healthcare professionals the opportunity to network and connect online. As part of that initiative, I’d like to invite any and all attendees to guest post on our H.I.L. forum blog. I’m going to extend this invite as a temporary solution because I’m in the process of building out a message board that I hope everyone will find valuable.

    Anyway, if you have any thoughts on this or would like to contribute, please let me know via email.

    Keep up the great job blogging!

    Alexa | @Alexa
    Community Manager at H.I.L.

  6. Susannah Fox says:

    Dan, Alexa, and anyone else ambitious enough to live blog or live Tweet an event,

    Check out these “tips for live tweeting from a science conference” courtesy of Ves Dimov, MD, aka @AllergyNotes:

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