Recap of Cowen’s 6th Annual FutureHealth Conference with Steve Blumenfield

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In this episode, Steve Blumenfield, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Health and Benefits North America at Willis Towers Watson and host of the Cure for the Common Co podcast speaks with Charles Rhyee, Health Care Technology Analyst.

Together they take a look back at this year’s 6th Annual Cowen FutureHealth Conference, held virtually this past June. They discuss the wide range of topics covered during the conference, including telehealth, chronic care management, women’s health, and caregiving.

As part of his role at Willis Towers Watson, Steve Blumenfield helps develop high potential new practice areas and curates the digital health and benefit landscape for clients. Steve works closely with VC firms, start-ups, and leading global employers. He is also regularly interviews innovators, the likes of which are discussed in this episode, on his podcast.

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Cowen Insights, a space that brings leading thinkers together to share insights and ideas shaping the world around us. Join us as we converse with the top minds who are influencing our global sectors.

Charles Rhyee:

Hello, my name is Charles Rhyee, Cowen’s healthcare technology analyst, and welcome to the Cowen Future Health Podcast. Today’s podcast is part of a monthly series that continues Cowen’s efforts to bring together thought leaders, innovators, and investors to discuss how the convergence of healthcare, technology, and consumerism is changing the way we look at health, healthcare, and the healthcare system. And in this episode, we take a look back at this year’s Sixth Annual Cowen FutureHealth Conference, which was held virtually this past June, where we hosted a number of panels discussing a wide range of topics, many related to digital health.

Charles Rhyee:

And joining me to discuss the conference is Steve Blumenfield, head of strategy and innovation for health and benefits North America at Willis Towers Watson. There he helps develop high potential new practice areas and curate the digital health and benefit landscape for clients. As part of his role, Steve works closely with VC firms, startups and leading global employers. He’s also the host of Cure for the Common Co. Podcast in which he interviews innovators, the likes of which we will be discussing today. Steve, thanks for joining us.

Steve Blumenfield:

Hey Charles. Great to be here. Thanks for having me and hi everybody.

Charles Rhyee:

Obviously there’s a lot for us to cover, but before we begin, I know you joined us for the conference and listened in to many of the panels. Maybe provide some of your overall takeaways from this year.

Steve Blumenfield:

It was fascinating and engaging. It’s always interesting to listen to these things remotely, right? I love being in the conference in person because there’s something about that connection. But the conference actually was pretty well done and entertaining and really informative. I had takeaways from each of the sessions. It’s interesting to think about the spaces that have become hot and the impact collectively you see that digital health virtual care is having on all of caregiving, all of healthcare, how we think about health and wellbeing in this country, not just at the consumer level, but at the practitioner level and at the employer level. Our clients are employers.

Steve Blumenfield:

So it’s just fascinating when you see a conference like this to kind of step back and think about how far we’ve come. And COVID was certainly an accelerant. That’s the theme that we’ll talk about today. But a lot of this stuff has been slowly moving along and it’s become pretty much mainstream. So we can get into the specifics, but high level, those are some of the takeaways I had from the conference overall.

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah. I would agree with you there. And I know that you’ve joined us in the past in-person as well. So you’ve kind of seen how this conference has moved over time. So let’s just kind of jump in here, maybe the first panel I want to touch on is behavioral health, and this is a panel I hosted with the chief operating officer of Talkspace and the CEO of Ontrak. Maybe you start there, and what were some of your key takeaways from the behavioral mental health panel?

Steve Blumenfield:

Well, that’s an area that’s a passion of mine. It’s a critically important area and has been for a long, long, long time. And I think it’s just massively important. So there were two takeaways I had from that session, and I’d love to hear yours as well. The first one that struck me was about the importance of engaging the entire person, how critically important that is when it comes to chronic conditions. So if someone’s got diabetes, heart disease, MSK, whatever the condition might be, it’s one thing to treat them physically, but there’s a level at which the treatment can fall down unless you engage someone around the mental health issues that may crop up, particularly in times of crisis.

Steve Blumenfield:

So mental health care support is not only key, but can actually yield a substantial return. And we’ve seen that as companies have added mental health one by one in some of these metabolic syndrome type of solutions. And in other solutions as well, we see mental health as the next level, as well as the next thing to be added to their core solutions, as well as freestanding. But to hear Ontrak talk about that as being key to what they deliver, I think that was really insightful how to get people to get past those ticking points in the community by addressing the whole person and the mind as part of that.

Steve Blumenfield:

And the second big takeaway I had, Charles, was the use of big data. And anytime the term big data or AI gets used, my back goes up because they’re so overused. But what really intrigued me was that we’re actually at a point now where we could find digital, which includes virtual in my book, always if I say digital, actually might move from the perception of being non-inferior as the goal to being superior to traditional care. And that doesn’t mean that it would replace traditional care. What it does mean is it’s very hard to get data longitudinally to assess whether or not a patient is getting better from their mental health care support.

Steve Blumenfield:

But these tools actually allow people to be taking things like GAD-7 or PHQ-9 over time or look for other cues as to how they’re improving. It allows for the AI and a practice petitioner to look back collectively and assess how the provider is doing. So we’re getting to the point now where measurement could be actually become meaningful and become useful to the member, but also to the provider and add that to the fact that the provider has less time doing administrative task because that’s provided by the platform they’re using. This can actually be a pathway to improve care in some cases.

Charles Rhyee:

Is that something that employers are demanding or is this still something kind of new that employers are just starting to realize, hey, we now have access to more information and we can actually quantify more of the outcomes to better sense that are we really getting a return for the investments for our members?

Steve Blumenfield:

Well, absolutely, they want this. To some degree, there’s a conditioned response to quotes of ROI. My solution will save you three times what you pay for it. And I think I’ve said before in our discussions, if you could add up all of the savings that all of these solutions have, then healthcare would be a profit center. But in reality, there’s always challenges with those claims. We actually, the employers in general and consultants like Willis Towers Watson are very eager to get our hands on good data so we can assess quality and we can compare the solutions. That’s extremely important.

Steve Blumenfield:

And the more we can do that, the more we can track the claims, the more we can pick the right solutions. It all gets better. It’s a virtuous cycle. So yes, employers are eager for that, but we’ve been disappointed, so we’re hopeful.

Charles Rhyee:

Your first point you were talking about engagement and this idea of whole person engagement, it sounds like something that clearly you would expect to resonate with employers as well. What’s the best way that employers are measuring the engagement of their employees to have benefits such as behavioral? How do they get a sense that people are actively using it or maybe a better way to ask it is, are you finding they’re actually pushing it now, getting people to try to use it to engage?

Steve Blumenfield:

Right. Well, one of the positive side effects of what we’ve all been through for the last year and a half is mental health, which already had a spotlight on it, really just massively being pushed to the front and employers trying to make every resource available to their people. And companies that had any kind of mental health support and making that available as part of their package of solutions and expanding that. So everyone needs the help. So employers have been promoting the heck out of this.

Steve Blumenfield:

At the early days of the pandemic, we talked to some of our clients and one of them on the Cure for the Common Co. was mentioning how the first thing that they did was send out constant emails and communications to their managers and to their people about the EAP and behavioral health resources, the apps that they had provided, the vendors that they had provided because people needed that so badly. So absolutely deliver. Here’s what you already have, please take advantage of it. And companies have been extremely eager to take on additional solutions. So yes, there’s been a lot of hiring of new vendors and looking at mental health support available and just communicating the heck out of that.

Steve Blumenfield:

In terms of the part of your question about measuring engagement, well, there are reports that these companies provide. If it’s a digital tool, a virtual tool, you can get reporting on utilization, which you hope will go up over time. But what really you hope happens in addition to those kinds of measures… And by the way, in mental health, that’s actually great because we know that our folks need the help so badly. It’d be wonderful to also get things like seeing fewer out of network claims over time, seeing fewer ER visits associated with mental health issues. So those are some of the ways that employers think about measuring and evaluating these solutions.

Charles Rhyee:

So maybe we can move on to the next panel because I think it’s related, and it gets to your earlier point about engaging the whole person, which was our chronic care management panel. And this one, we hosted with Omada Health and Welldoc. Maybe, what were some conclusions you took away from this panel?

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah. So another interesting panel, both in the diabetes care space and clearly not just diabetes, but metabolic syndrome and other chronic conditions related. And in fact, we know Omada has some things like acquired Physera. So there’s MSK and [inaudible 00:10:23] health solutions. So not attempting to bucket them into too small of a category, but essentially they both started out in that space. And it’s just amazing to see how that space has grown. Sean’s comment, Sean from Omada, co-founder from Omada talking about the competition among platforms and how much room really is there for how many platforms was a question that was raised in the discussion.

Steve Blumenfield:

And I loved Sean’s reframing of that, which is if you look at all of the successful platforms that we have seen in that space, they barely even move the needle compared to number of people getting care outside of platforms. So I think he used the example of, you’ve got Geisinger over here and you’ve got, he named a bunch of health systems and said, “We don’t think about there being too many of those platforms.” So we’ve got plenty of room to grow. And I think that’s right. And that’s just US-based. It has nothing about outside the US. And I really actually loved the comment from, Welldoc, something like, digital had been the backup quarterback.

Steve Blumenfield:

And again, to me, digital and virtual are, they go together. But the backup quarterback would, maybe if they’re lucky, get off the bench for player two during the game, but suddenly they’re going to be maybe a starter and the place to start with, and that might even steer you to the care. I just love that notion that if the tools can mature to the point where they’re not looking to replace, but they’ve got a meaningful role at the right point and care for the right people. And I’ll throw one more out there, which is there was a reference to an a16z company. So it may have been levels as the company, which is a consumer oriented health and wellbeing play, where they use continuous glucose monitoring, CGM.

Steve Blumenfield:

And that topic had come up. People who are not being treated for diabetes are wearing that. And just by being able to continuously monitor what they eat and the effect on their body, they are dramatically improving their health and losing weight. So just a fascinating notion of the more data we have that’s meaningful to us in real time, the more we’ll do with that. So I thought it was a very exciting panel.

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah. And I agree with all of that. One of the things that came up I thought was interesting was this, both talked about this idea of digital first approach. And it kind of came up often. It’s something obviously that’s top of mind when a lot of companies in this space talk about digital health. What do employers though need to have in place to really make a digital first kind of environment work properly?

Steve Blumenfield:

Well, first off, I would say employers tend to think of the term virtual first, because even though we talk about them hand in glove, digital just feels like it’s only on the phone, right? As opposed to virtual. So employers, the term we tend to use is virtual first. But I think there’s two pieces. Part of that is just time, Charles. These are still relatively new solutions. Clearly COVID was an accelerant in getting it out there. So now a lot of employers are asking about the virtual care strategy and the digital strategy. So that’s part of it. The second actually I think has to do with the doctors getting comfortable, which COVID also helped, right? Because many clinicians, therapists or doctors and nurses couldn’t practice unless they were virtual.

Steve Blumenfield:

And then of course, there’s the digital supports for those. So a lot of employers are concerned. They don’t want to break that doctor-patient relationship. In general, there’s even the assumption that most people have a doctor-patient relationship. Some people don’t, a lot of people don’t actually. And employers don’t want to force people in a certain direction in general. But the more the clinicians wants to do this, the more that you see positive results, the more employers want to make this available. And I think those are the enablers, and I think they’re actually off to a good start.

Charles Rhyee:

And you mentioned providers there, obviously a lot of these solutions, particularly in chronic care management and telehealth, they’ve all generally been, or at least they’ve initially started out targeting employers. Selling into the employer market, obviously because employers tend to be willing to try new things and experiment more. Well, now because of the pandemic, physicians, providers have kind of come around and realized, hey, we can practice virtually. We can take advantage of these tools. Down the road, do you ultimately think chronic care management is something that should be still driven by the employer? Or is this something that probably ends up being driven by the physician and then employers kind of just tag along here just providing overall health benefits?

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah. Boy, that is such a fascinating question to ponder, Charles. I think if we all had the ideal environment, the consumer would know where to go and just go there and the provider would have every tool available and it would all be covered regardless of the plan someone was in and they would just get the best care. It just doesn’t seem to work that way. There’s such a variability among the carriers and who they have relationships with and then who’s in network and whether those physicians or those providers actually have the right tools or the tools they use are actually the ones that are the best quality or best fit for the patient.

Steve Blumenfield:

So I think in the foreseeable future, unless we change our model dramatically, like a government sponsored plan that takes out the employer hands, every employer plan sponsor, at least if they’re self-insured has an interest in trying to help their population do better. So I think as far as I can see out there, we’re going to continue to see employers who want to do it for financial reasons as we just talked about. And because they want their people healthy and they would like them to be engaged in and help them to deal with their issues, so as long as they’re in the benefits game and they’re paying for it, and it’s their people that they care about, they’re going to want to keep being engaged. But ultimately, it should also rest on the physician and on the consumer.

Charles Rhyee:

I want to go back to, you brought the analogy, I think it was Anand over at Welldoc about the backup quarterback digital health is. Do you find that employers see that as well? Do they recognize that, hey, even though we’ve been providing these services, it wasn’t so much that we expected them to be sort of a mainstay of our benefits package. Has that kind of shifted in the tone when you speak with employers now that when they look at their overall benefits offering, of which it’s more than just digital, right? So there’s [crosstalk 00:17:22] where there’s a whole slew of services provided. Is there a shift in how they think of the importance of various pieces?

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah, I do think there has been a shift, but I’ve got a lot of caveats around this. So in general, there is now acceptance of virtual and digital that there wasn’t before. And I think COVID had lots to do with that. It’s like, the people who were sitting back saying, “This doesn’t work, this can’t work. A doctor has to touch someone,” realized, wow, I actually practiced for a year without touching anyone and it actually worked out really well. And when we had to, we were in contact. But gee, that changed my perspective on things. And employers saw that and many people who were making the buying decisions had to have care of the family members that had to have care as well.

Steve Blumenfield:

So it’s certainly come up, a lot of our clients are asking, do they have the right virtual strategy of our digital strategy? What should they do? And we help them through that discussion. I think that has arrived to some degree, but the caveat is that you see one employer, you see one employer and there’s a very big difference between those at cutting edge, the early adopters, then arriving to the late adopters and into the laggards. And I’m just using the, I’m not labeling, I’m using the innovation curve there to identify these segments. We’re definitely seeing the mainstreaming a bit, but there are still companies that are not there, but I’d say it’s definitely mainstreamed.

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah. That makes sense. And that’s a great analogy to describe where we’re at. I think the next panel we’d love to discuss is the women’s health and caregiving panel that we hosted, which brought a pretty diverse range of perspectives. We had, Carrot, which is a fertility company outlet, which makes monitoring devices for infants and Wealthy, which provides concierge services for finding care or navigating care really. A pretty wide, diverse area focused in an area with largely impacts women to a large extent. Maybe give us some of your key takeaways from that panel.

Steve Blumenfield:

Well, the first thing that I experienced was excitement actually at the number of solutions going after these needs, because it’s really been an underserved area. So the needs of families, the needs of women, underserved populations, but particularly the women and families which were represented by that panel and the people that are being cared for that haven’t always been in the center of the benefits discussion and that employers asked, it seemed like you had to deal with that on your own as an employee, but increasing recognition of the importance of addressing those needs was exciting. And there’re so many solutions that popped up in those spaces and COVID helped pave the way for companies to see just how important this is and to want to provide additional solutions.

Steve Blumenfield:

They know that suddenly the people who are making the decisions are also dealing with caregiving off the side of their desk. And we realized how important it is for people to be engaged, to have some help in these areas. One of the saddest things I heard from that was the quote from Lindsay, the CEO of Wellthy. I won’t get the numbers right, but talking about the massive number of women executives who left the workforce due to home and family needs. And there’s just a simple fact that companies need this talent. And it’s just a terrible thing that circumstances and the lack of ability to meet those needs outside of the box that has typically been that benefits box is making people make decisions to leave the workforce. That’s a real employer issue.

Charles Rhyee:

And I think that makes a lot of sense. And certainly COVID probably exacerbated it, but we’ve definitely seen a change in this regardless, I’d say maybe over the last five plus years. What have you seen that’s changed in the market that has enabled this kind of focus onto this area kind of emerge and grow?

Steve Blumenfield:

I think you’re right, Charles. It has definitely emerged. Each of these companies has been around for several years. So it’s been building. In fact, caregiving as an example was a rising need which we saw and put at the top of our list, the top of our list prior to COVID, but really got pushed over during COVID. And the other areas, family care, maternity support were definitely near the top of that list already. But COVID was, again, an accelerant, a massive accelerant. More generally, I would say that the trend towards recognition of the need for increased gender diversity of companies and the blurring of work and life roles were the things that had been pushing us in that direction. And again, COVID pushed us over the edge.

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah. And you just mentioned it there, it certainly seems like one area that hasn’t gotten enough attention until the last few years has been around diversity and inclusion certainly beyond the social and moral importance of this. What is the business case you hear most from employers when they seek solutions to be able to better serve these populations?

Steve Blumenfield:

Wow. It’s such a tough one. There’s a lot of interests, but not a lot of solutions frankly, out there today. Because there’s a need for community involvement. There’s need to understand the data down to the level of individual communities. And some of these solutions are outside of the benefits space. If someone lives in a food desert, is it your role as an employer to provide food or is there something fundamental about that community and how do you even do that? If that is your role, if that’s what you decide is your role, do you have the means to do it yourself, or is that something that has to be done through community organizations?

Steve Blumenfield:

So some of that stuff’s actually being worked out. There are entrepreneurs looking at those things, but we see it play out in general in terms of underserved populations. For many companies, they may call it diversity and inclusion, but for some, there may be geographies where there actually is not a lot of diversity, but there is a lack of inclusion in terms of opportunity, education, capability or luck of where someone was born or where they happen to live. With a tight labor market, companies realize that the people under their care need to be able to take care of their health or their family’s health. And if they don’t, that’s going to be an expense for the employer, but more importantly, it’s going to affect their ability to retain those people for those people to actually be healthy, productive, happy contributors to those companies and society.

Steve Blumenfield:

So there’s cost implications from not doing the right thing, but there’s also that increased desire to do the right thing. I do think one of the other positive outcomes of the pandemic is we’re all spending a little more time thinking about each other and our role in helping each other.

Charles Rhyee:

And when we think about employers looking to, particularly getting women back into the workforce, reintegrating back into the workforce, all these kinds of services are tools to enable that. Do you see employers really looking at these as, not only retention tools, but really to attract employees. How much of it when you’re speaking with employers in this kind of modern environment that we’re in, if you want to attract the top talent, these are the types of services that employees want to see. Whether they use them or not is that this is the type of workplace that offers these services to, even if I don’t partake in them.

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah, Charles, that’s a really insightful observation. I would say yes. And there’s evidence for that. We tend to look to the West Coast. We tend to look to Silicon Valley to see what those companies are doing. And there was the ones that tend to have the hottest talent market they’re trying to attract. And perks and benefits that are more leading edge tend to be in high demand there. I think it’s because the war for talent is playing out in terms of benefits. And then we see some of that stuff, some of it succeeds and some doesn’t succeed in making its way to the rest of the industries. But that’s just one example that proves your point that it is an attraction and retention tool. We’ve got a company that spoke at our virtual conference with me, I believe it’s part of, I think it was Dow Jones.

Steve Blumenfield:

Kim Doc made the reference that they publish their benefits because they believe, and they publish it on Instagram because they believe this is an attraction tool. If you’ve got a good set of benefits that people really want, they’ll want to work for you. So yeah, Charles, you’re onto something there.

Charles Rhyee:

It kind of gets to the idea that, and this is obviously a topic kind of separate from what we’ve been speaking about in general. But here’s that ongoing debate about whether employers be offering health benefits. But I think the point that you’re making is there really is still a strong business case for employers to provide it because it helps differentiate them.

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah. It’s fascinating because question one is, do you want to be in the game, right? Where do you want to go do something like take advantage of ICHRA and have a little bit more of a defined contribution approach? That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but let’s just call it that, and more limit your role and put it in the hands of the consumer, or do you want to be providing these benefits? And we’ll see how that plays out over the next several years. Certainly COVID changed what might’ve been a different year for those types of questions as we all kind of just held our breath and tried to get through it. So assuming that the employer wants to continue to provide benefits, well, at that point, it becomes part of your talent strategy.

Steve Blumenfield:

And what are you going to do to attract and retain your type of people? Now, not every industry has the same need for that talent strategy to be robust and attracting the same level of people with the same degree of benefits. You could have a workforce where if you churn through workers, that’s part of the workforce design, right? Not good or bad, it’s just a different approach. And then you also mentioned, should employers be in the game? Well, as long as there’s mandates that require some level of activity, then the question is, how do you optimize that for yourself?

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah. No, that’s really helpful. And it’s pretty interesting how we’ll see this play out. Maybe the last panel I want to touch on, it was a fireside chat that was hosted by my colleague, Gary Taylor, with Anthem’s chief digital officer, Rajeev Ronanki, who obviously spent a lot of time in industry before going into Anthem. What did you find most interesting from this discussion? Because I thought he brought a pretty interesting perspective on where the role of Anthem, I guess in particular, but kind of, if you think more broadly, what the role of the payer is in this market.

Steve Blumenfield:

Yeah. His enthusiasm was contagious. It was good to listen to him on this. And I felt a little bit like I was listening to someone evangelize about what they could do, which is great. That’s exactly what you want to have a leader do. I was really surprised actually, because I hadn’t really thought about individual pieces that came together at the level of tools and platform commitment that they’re making that they believe can do better for the provision of care, for outcomes, and obviously for Anthem and the blues more broadly. But investments like a universal EMR that could be an industry standard that they would share with others with real-time data, which would just be amazing.

Steve Blumenfield:

Their collaboration with other insurers on a blockchain utility, their vision for their Sydney App to be a consumer doorway with lots of pathways for different types of care based on need and condition management through telemed vendors and other types of vendors and even the vision of going beyond health. So I love kind of the how big and bold the vision was and where they’re putting their money behind that.

Charles Rhyee:

Yeah, I agree with what you’re saying. I thought it was a very engaging conversation and very excited to see what they do with this. But when you look in the past, I guess United has been the most adventurous in this field in building out capabilities and assets. Anthem seems to be falling in their tracks. And you’re starting to see a little bit more from some of the other managed care companies. Is this something then, would you envision when you’re speaking with employers then down the road, hey, look, it’s kind of fully matured here in this kind of Anthem environment, for example. Does that then guide some of the discussions and how you decide a benefits package?

Charles Rhyee:

Because if you pick this carrier, in this case, let’s say Anthem, it’s going to come with all these other capabilities. In which case, the way you set things up for yourselves should change because you don’t maybe need to invest as aggressively. And I guess then secondly, when you speak with these startups and you think about the digital health landscape, do you see the payers then as a natural exit, I guess for a lot of these [crosstalk 00:31:26]?

Steve Blumenfield:

Right. Well, there’s a lot to unpack there. Maybe I’ll start with the second one because that’s a quicker answer. Yes. Peers are clearly an exit. The thing with the large carriers is that they do have this appetite, but they tend to be fickle, right? They want what fits and works with them. So if looking at the mental health space, well, let’s go to telemedicine. In early days when there was a plethora of telemedicine vendors out there, a few key ones got plucked off. We saw Amwell, we saw Teladoc and we saw MDLIVE, basically run the table on those. Then Doctor on Demand came up and now those have kind of come in and supplanted in some of those cases. But those still are the big three and then big four became aligned with the big carriers.

Steve Blumenfield:

But those weren’t even acquisitions. Now that’s changed a bit, but some of these companies get acquired, or they get very strong partnerships and become allied. So that’s clearly a potential exit. And I think you want a great exit if you’re an entrepreneur like that. So I think there’s a lot of good that can come of that, which is not to say that the companies that exit into those carriers or those payers are then going to become the most successful leaders in the industry. That’s great exit strategy, but if you are owned by that payer, you’re limited to that book. And those payers don’t tend to be able to promote folks into these programs as effectively as when it’s done independently.

Steve Blumenfield:

That’s just a fact that we’ve seen across these point solutions. Some do it better, some do it worse, that’s a different topic. But to get into the overall question of the various different payers out there making these moves, I do think they’re heading, Charles, towards trying to be differentiated through these approaches maybe for the first time in a long time. You’ve got CVS Aetna who has this health hub strategy that promises over time to be delivering condition management and other care locally and get your meds out to you. And that’s a very differentiated point of view that looks actually more like Amazon Care than it does like additional carrier.

Steve Blumenfield:

You’ve got United that has Optum. Obviously that’s a machine that’s providing infrastructure and so many great solutions within it. And maybe Anthem going down a similar path, but also trying to engage members differently. And then Cigna focusing on investing into really important areas, not the least of which included ESI, right? So we’re seeing these companies actually take some positions in the market that they ought to be differentiated. I think for employers today, they’re still putting their money where their mouth is. They’re still looking at what’s going to save them costs.

Steve Blumenfield:

And most of these future plans haven’t been built out yet and some of the folks more recently adding these capabilities. So will these technologies and advancements be important for employers’ big decisions? I think, yes, but the basics are still there. What are the network rates? And am I going to end up taking a bath financially if I move to this carrier? Or how well are they delivering on their service? These will still continue to be really, really important. But until such time as these other added business model components add more value than those parts do.

Charles Rhyee:

And then obviously we’ll see how this interplay plays out between payers as well as employers, which I think is going to be pretty fascinating over the next couple of years given sort of the explosion and new offerings coming to market, and the potential, obviously of a lot of these solutions to really not only impact outcomes, but improve lives here for people. So I think we’ll leave it at that. Steve, always great to catch up with you. Really appreciate you coming on to kind of giving your thoughts on this year’s FutureHealth Conference. And we look forward to have you join us again on another call. And thanks for being here.

Steve Blumenfield:

Charles, thanks for talking with you.

Charles Rhyee:

Great. Thanks everyone.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for the next episode of Cowen Insights.


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