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Analysis

Health:Further Evolves; Signature Innovation Event Not Scheduled for 2019

By Mandy Roth  
   January 22, 2019

Transformation to strategic advisory organization reflects acceleration of change in healthcare industry. 

Health:Further, a health innovation gathering in Nashville, Tennessee, that had blossomed into a prominent industry event for innovators, providers, entrepreneurs, and investors in only a few short years, will not produce its flagship festival in 2019. Instead, the team behind it is taking the energy they put into organizing the festival and focusing on "a deeper level of engagement" versus "convening."

While there will be other upcoming events, produced in partnership with others, as well as the emergence of the organization as a strategic advisory to a variety of players, this change reflects something much bigger going on in the industry, according to Health:Further CEO Marcus Whitney, who founded this open community focused on the future of health.

Healthcare is no longer changing from within, he says; forces outside the industry are committed to change. Health:Further is switching its focus to help accelerate that dynamic with providers, payers—specifically Medicare Advantage organizations—and enterprise technology companies. The organization will work with these partners to identify, implement, and accelerate innovative solutions to the key drivers of transformation in healthcare, which include care moving out of the hospital and the rise of the consumer.  

Transformation Rooted in 2018 Event
 

Interestingly, this transformation is rooted in something that happened onstage during last year's Health:Further gathering.

"When we ask people what was the most impactful content that they experienced at the event, [they mentioned] Marcus Osborne, who's the vice president of health and wellness transformation at Walmart," Whitney says. The company is among the largest self-insured employers in the country, he says, and a "massive retailer that has 90% of America walk through its doors every year."

"[Osborne] said that Walmart was no longer going to rely upon the healthcare industry to determine what was appropriate care," recalls Whitney. By taking an active role in producing better outcomes for their employees, Osborne said that Walmart would also save a tremendous amount of money.

"For a company the scale of Walmart to say that they were going to take on that responsibility," says Whitney, "it's a massive message about the level of engagement that companies outside of the traditional healthcare industry are … taking in the role that they play in the healthcare industry." At the same time, Amazon, Apple, and Google all made "absolutely undeniable, very real investments in the healthcare industry over the last 12 months," says Whitney.

"Those are, quite frankly, the largest, most powerful companies in the world right now," says Whitney. "We believe for them to seriously invest and engage in the United States healthcare system has serious implications for what's going to happen in the industry over the next five to 10 years."

Health:Further to Become Catalyst in Accelerating Change
 

As a result, Health:Further is morphing to become a catalyst in this phenomenon, "partnering with market-leading organizations it has developed relationships with through the festival to advance strategic innovation at scale," according to a news release. 

While Whitney wasn't ready to announce which organizations they will be working with, or the events Health:Further will help sponsor, the organization has hired a new chief development officer, Steve Tremitiere, to drive this effort. Tremitiere most recently served as executive advisor to Geisinger Health System on their population health initiative, Springboard Health. 

In light of what's happening in the healthcare industry, and the proliferation of other innovation events, Whitney feels the original focus of Health:Further has run its course.

Health:Further started as a way for parent company Briovation's investment business, Jumpstart, to engage with the healthcare ecosystem and to better understand the future of the industry, according to the news release.

"We spent a lot of time and energy on these events to make them valuable, to make them great experiences," says Whitney. "We are a small and very scrappy team, and we were very confident over the last four years that this was the best use of our energy. Now, with what we believe is an accelerated rate of change, we need to focus our energy on deeper levels of engagement."

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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