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Health Plans Receptive, But Not Ready for Change

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, July 9, 2013

In an interview, Clay Phillips, director of provider relations and communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee,  acknowledges that the nation's healthcare system "is simply unsustainable in its current course," and discusses some of the challenges payers are facing. 

The city of Nashville has long been associated with healthcare. In 1995, the city's chamber of commerce developed the Nashville Health Care Council to help bring together stakeholders in the healthcare and business industries.

Clay Phillips, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee

Clay Phillips, director of provider relations and communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee

Over the years, the council has hosted high profile speakers and workshops for health leaders. It recently finished its most ambitious venture to date, the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows, a diverse group of 33 healthcare professionals representing payers, providers, government, technology, the pharmaceutical industry, and healthcare finance. The Fellows met for eight one-day sessions over four months in Nashville to discuss and learn about healthcare strategies and challenges. 

Clay Phillips, director of provider relations and communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and a Nashville Health Care Council Fellow recently spoke with HealthLeaders Media about the experience. 

HLM: What did you get out of the experience?

Phillips: There was reconfirmation that the system is simply unsustainable in its current course. They brought a lot of information to bear, both with the payer and the provider, to illustrate that the industry is not going to last long term. We can't survive at 18% of GDP with poor outcomes. That's not a provider-bashing comment; it's simply a fact at this point.

The other thing I got out of it is there are things you can do—big things and things you can do on the edges—both of which matter because the system did not get into the condition that it's in overnight, and it's going to take time to turn the ship.

I came away more encouraged that we can do things within the provider community to soften the soil—from changing the way we pay to changing the way we measure how the system functions.

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