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Tackling Change

Chamber’s Health Care Leaders Forum hosts key industry discussion

By Ingrid Sjostrand

Pages 50-51

Insurance policy changes. Hospital mergers. The Affordable Care Act. There are a lot of developments happening in the world of health care, which means a lot of decisions for employers to make in order to keep their businesses running smoothly, as well as their employees happy and healthy.

The Health Care Leaders Forum, presented by the Detroit Regional Chamber, tackles these issues of health reform. A chief health care event in Michigan, this forum proves a valuable resource for all organizations working with health care issues, both providers and purchasers.

The Chamber has hosted the Health Care Leaders Forum since 2007 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

“The Health Care Leaders Forum really accomplishes two objectives. It brings needed and valuable information to light to help employers and providers make decisions,” said Ed Wolking, the Chamber’s executive vice president and Forum coordinator. “Secondly, it informs the work of a lot of other organizations trying to work together to improve the quality, reduce the cost and increase the value of health care.”

The Forum follows a value chain approach to present material to guests. Health care extends to such a variety of roles — from employers, doctors, insurers, hospitals, suppliers, customers and more. By utilizing the value chain approach, based on the work of author and  Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, the forum is able to focus on one particular element each year and allows for sharing information with the many different groups involved.

“It is a way for people to learn collectively about trends and developments and provides for possible collaborations and solutions to improve the value of health care,” Wolking said.

David Lalain, vice president of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), has been a recurring attendee of the Health Care Leaders Forum for several years.

“There is so much change in health care,” he said. “It’s a good time for health care to ask, ‘what are we doing? what can we do?’ These are important questions to ask and I think the forum is the perfect place for that.”

Lalain also commends the socializing opportunities provided by the forum and the chance to interact with leaders in the field.

“The networking is fantastic, getting to see the same people in some of the same positions is great,” he said. “It’s a nice way to reconnect when sometimes this is the only opportunity you get to see these people.”

Presented in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, this year’s event, scheduled for March 21, focuses on the many changes in store for the health care industry and how employers can handle the new challenges.

The critical relationships in the health care chain, the relationship between the employer and employees, other purchasers and providers, is a vital part of the health care system that is often overlooked.

“Employers who have been providing health care and are interested in figuring out what to do in the next few years have a lot of decisions to make. For example, whether they’re in or out, the type of benefits they’ll provide, the relationships with their employees,” Wolking said.

The nation’s top thought-leaders in the health care industry will discuss what direction reform is taking and how quick this transformation is to come. CEO of Henry Ford Health System Nancy Schlichting kicks off the conference and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson delivers the lunch keynote address. Keynote speakers include Maria Ghazal, vice president and counsel for the Business Roundtable and Jeffrey McGuiness, CEO of the HR Policy Association, both in Washington, D.C., with their fingers on the pulse of the dramatic changes that are affecting employers.

Some notable forum sessions include “The Employer’s Role: The Competitive Advantage of a Healthy Workforce,” “The Benefits Revolution: Bridging the Gap Between Insurance and Wellness” and “The Challenge Ahead: Outlining the Path Forward.”

“This is a big year for employers,  there are lots of decisions to be made,” Wolking said. “They need to understand the ramifications of their decisions in terms of relationship with workforce and benefit designs they have in creating a more healthy, engaged workforce.”

Ingrid Sjostrand is the editorial associate for the Detroiter.

(Photos) Top to bottom: Nancy Schlichting, CEO of HFHS; Jeffrey McGuiness, CEO of the HR Policy Association and Maria Ghazal, vice president and counsel for the Business Roundtable are three keynote speakers for the 2013 Detroit Regional Chamber’s Health Care Leaders Forum.