FAH 2020: The current state of healthcare policy

Jennel Lengle shares key takeaways from the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) conference and business exposition in March 2020.

Founded more than 50 years ago, the FAH represents over 1,000 community hospitals and health systems across the U.S. The conference brings together attendees from HealthTrust, our clinical advisory boards and suppliers to discuss new products coming to market. This year, a large portion of the conference focused on the current state of healthcare policy.

Here are some of the highlights of the event:

The reverse expo—with GPOs as exhibitors instead of suppliers—was a unique experience and allowed suppliers to meet members of the HealthTrust team. It allowed me, as a representative of the clinical advisory boards, to share our sourcing processes with suppliers and learn about new products that may benefit our members.

We had representation from many different groups within HealthTrust. This enabled us to demonstrate how we work collaboratively. For example, after a supplier visited the nursing booth for an initial discussion about sourcing, they could be directed to me to learn about our decision-making process. If I thought they should also talk to another HealthTrust staff member—perhaps about our Innovation Summit—I could direct them to a colleague. It was a great way to demonstrate the vast number of offerings we have at HealthTrust and to show how we all work together.

The conference explored many important topics, but a couple of presentations really stood out. At a breakout session on drug costs and the impact on patient care, a breast oncology physician highlighted a recent trend of patients asking physicians about deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses before making decisions about their care. Our members and their physicians are being asked this question more and more often, but the answer is complex and involves multiple physician practices, insurance plans, ambulatory surgery centers and inpatient/outpatient treatment.

There was also a discussion concerning biosimilars as an option for patients. Advantages and disadvantages were discussed when promoting the increase usage of biosimilars. Cost reduction due to increased competition and an increase in accessibility are obvious advantages, but more discovery must be completed to ensure proper use in the clinical setting.

The panel discussion—Disruptors or Interrupters? Managing the perceived barriers and opportunities created by the changing healthcare landscape—was timely. The night before, a tornado hit Middle Tennessee and concern about COVID-19 was increasing. Because of this, the moderator changed the focus of the discussion to the immediate disruptors—especially COVID-19—that our healthcare systems are facing.

The panelists, including HealthTrust’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Young, had to quickly adapt to the change of discussion, having witnessed a real-life disruptor event with the situation changing even as they spoke. The discussion was sobering concerning the challenges our members face today, have faced in the past and, unfortunately, will face in the future. However, it was promising to understand the advantages HealthTrust members realized due to their enormous footprint and crisis management strategies.

Jennel Lengle, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, is AVP of Clinical Operations. For more information, email her at Jennel.Lengle@healthtrustpg.com.

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