FLORIDA HEALTHCARE

Healthcare in Florida: Innovation is key driver

 
 
GERAGHTY
GERAGHTY
Laura Evans

bcbsfl.com

As the U.S. healthcare system undergoes sweeping changes designed to improve the health, treatment outcomes and the well-being of Americans, Florida is at the forefront of developing health programs that are quickly becoming the model for the rest of the country — innovation that requires expansion and investment.

For example, Florida Blue, our state’s largest health insurer, teamed up with one of Florida’s leading oncology practices to create the first Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that is solely focused on attending to cancer patients. Under the direction of leaders like 30-plus-year veteran oncologist Dr. Leonard Kalman, people facing difficult health challenges are receiving better care at a lower cost.

This program came to fruition through the collaboration between doctors like Dr. Kalman, Baptist Health South Florida and Florida Blue. Together, we pored through a mountain of data and found new ways to provide better treatment to these patients while lowering costs.

This innovative cancer-focused ACO is already drawing national attention in the hope of replicating it nationwide. And it is just one shining example of how the healthcare industry is coming together to help our communities achieve better health.

As Dr. Kalman said recently: “This is an era of trying to improve quality and be cost effective.”

Serving as Florida Blue’s chief executive officer, I stand behind our mission to stay on the cutting edge by developing innovative services and products that help people and communities achieve better health. Improved health through wellness and prevention and better quality outcomes is also more cost effective.

Just as the U.S. healthcare system is undergoing significant changes with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, so, too, must companies like Florida Blue. We must find ways to stay ahead of the curve and develop initiatives that address our country’s health needs and rein in runaway costs.

Collectively, this underpins our decision at Florida Blue to go beyond a traditional health insurer and become a health solutions company.

With this approach, we see healthcare as much more than simply having insurance. We believe it is critical that we commit to keeping people healthy in the first place, a major driver to keeping costs in check. To accomplish this, we must make significant investment in the areas of wellness education, preventive screenings and other lifestyle programs such as exercise classes, instruction on better eating habits and addiction cessation.

To that end, we have also built 11 retail centers that go far beyond selling insurance and have become an instant hit with our customers. We have embedded nurses who can do health-risk assessments or help people build personalized health and wellness programs. In two centers, we have also embedded primary-care physicians who are available to our customers on the spot. These centers also connect us with community programs and serve as a hub for some of their activities. And, of course, policyholders can come in to get face-to-face answers to their questions.

In order for Florida Blue to make this transformation fully successful, we have proposed reorganizing our structure. This new approach, known as a Mutual Insurance Health Company (MIHC), will help ensure that we can make those necessary investments across our entire business to support the development of additional innovative programs that go beyond the ACO for cancer patients, our retail centers and insurance.

Even with these changes, our mission and constituents will remain the same. Our new enterprise will stay not-for-profit, run by our policyholders. Our policyholders will always retain control of the organization and we as their leaders will always be dedicated to serving their needs. We are working closely with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to make sure it understands our plans and the reasons for this transition.

This is a time of great change — and opportunity — in the healthcare industry. Florida Blue must be positioned to meet the health needs of our customers. In the spirit of veteran practitioners like Dr. Kalman, we must continue investing and innovating to keep our communities healthy and improve their health care outcomes.

Patrick Geraghty is CEO of Florida Blue.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
BAUMAN

    BOMBING SURVIVOR

    Jeff Bauman: All I want is a normal day

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancée, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.

  •  
REID

    FLORIDA

    More lax gun laws coming our way

    In December 1983, Middlesex County, N.J., discontinued a policy that allowed police officers to fire warning shots at fleeing or aggressive suspects. The county was the only one in the state of New Jersey, and one of the last in the country, to permit such firearm discharges, which are considered too potentially dangerous to third parties to allow law officers to use.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">REBELS</span>: Ivan Marquez, left, heads the FARC delegation to the peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana. Jesus Santrich of the FARC stands next to him.

    COLOMBIA

    Myths and realities about the Colombian peace process

    Some opponents of the peace process between the government of Colombia and insurgents have been circulating false versions about the talks underway in Havana and unbelievable myths about its actual scope. We will clarify the main legends right now.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category