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5 Takeaways From AHIP's 2013 Annual Conference

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 19, 2013

These are the big ideas presented at AHIP 2013 that I came away with:

1.Wellness takes more than marketing.
If you still think of wellness as simply blood drives and cholesterol checks, then you are a few years behind the times. Wellness is emerging as a big business with a steady stream of vendors ready and able to help employers keep their troops in tip top working shape.

Employers are cautiously interested as they struggle to find tangible ways to correlate wellness programs to bottom-line benefits, but failure remains a very real option. While there is a growing body of research linking wellness to reduced healthcare costs, improved productivity, and higher morale, a recent RAND report finds that wellness programs don't pay off.

2.Everyone wants a piece of the healthcare delivery business (Part 1).
Competitors are everywhere. Target, Wal-Mart, and other retailers are looking for opportunities to cherry-pick healthcare delivery. Think you have the flu? Need a DVD to watch or book to read while you recuperate? Stop by one of 54 Target stores that include healthcare clinics. Big-box retailers have huge advantages when it comes to healthcare delivery: They are everywhere and they have been studying their customers' data, oops I mean guests, for years.

3.Everyone wants a piece of the healthcare delivery business (Part 2).
Each week, more than one million Weight Watcher members attend one of the company's weekly weigh-in meetings. Last year consumers spent $5 billion on Weight Watchers branded products and services. That's market power and CEO David P. Kirchhoff wants to bring that power to healthcare.

"We are effectively a provider network," Kirchhoff remarked during a session on the new entrants into healthcare who are driving change in the system. "We are actively looking for ways to work into the healthcare system." He sees Weight Watchers as part of the healthcare industry trend to partner to deliver care. Physicians and payers partner with community-based delivery systems (including Weight Watchers).

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