2019 Session Descriptions

Track: The Patient Experience

Enhancing the Patient Experience: Design Strategies That Work

Hospitals are working harder to enhance the patient experience often by making radical changes to physical infrastructure, harnessing artificial intelligence and analytical tools, and breaking down silos to strengthen communication/collaboration between departments and with frontline workers to improve work processes and treatment approaches. Refined designs are reducing infection risk, muffling noise, creating color-coded pathways to care sites, and improving visiting spaces for families in patient rooms. The power of analytics is helping improve hospital-wide services starting with emergency departments by streamlining registration and triage, resulting in decreased wait times and better patient care. Hospitals are also harnessing big data for tasks like developing chronic disease management plans with predictive risk scores to help customize them to ensure patient compliance. And AI is increasingly being deployed in a myriad of ways like rapidly reviewing pathology reports for patient navigators so people can more quickly be directed to the care they need. Our panel will look at how design breakthroughs and new tools are dramatically improving how patients view their hospital experience.

Managing Consolidation for the Best Patient Outcomes: Standardizing Care and Quality

A 2018 JAMA report found that healthcare mergers and acquisitions can significantly increase risks to patient safety if leaders in charge of change lack clinical experience. Poorly managed integration can lead to a serious reduction in quality of care while costs rise. And while increases in patient volume seem desirable on paper, they also can include changes in demographics that can require substantial adjustments in staffing and training (including interpreters in some cases) as well as demands for different supplies, equipment and formularies, and strategies for making distinct electronic health records systems interoperable. In addition, mergers often lead to specialists such as cardiologists and oncologists being asked to move to new sites where they haven’t been sufficiently oriented into the new processes, culture and infrastructure adding further risks to patient safety. These potential problems can only be addressed with proper planning, oversight and data-sharing and early integration of clinical leaders. In this session, speakers will discuss the opportunities and potential pitfalls of consolidation.

Incubating Innovation: How Strategic Investments Can Drive Patient Engagement and Satisfaction

Venture capital investment in digital health hit a record $14.6 billion in 2018, according to a recent StartUp Health Insights report. Legions of startups continue to enter the space and roll out programs that are especially geared toward tech-savvy and increasingly demanding consumers, such as mobile apps, wearable devices, cutting-edge software and more. Big Tech players like Amazon, Google and Apple have also made significant inroads in the health arena as both partners and disruptors with an eye toward streamlining care delivery to patients. A number of hospitals and health systems have expanded their own innovation centers and venture enterprises, seeking to incubate – and in some cases spin off – new tech tools, services and intellectual property. But sorting out what works for patients is no easy task, nor is earning steady funding and making the right long-term investments, especially as providers and innovators work to maintain consistent levels of quality, safety, cost savings, patient/data privacy and impact. Hear from several strategic thinkers in the innovation space about how your own institution can find success and make an impact on the patient experience.

Innovations in Patient-Centered Care Delivery: Spotlight on Precision Medicine and Other Cutting-Edge Tools

The expansion of big data, precision medicine and artificial intelligence all promise to create a boom in consumer-oriented care while increasingly enabling faster, cheaper care outside of hospital walls. More enlightened approaches to the social determinants of health, like attacking homelessness and food insecurity, will produce better healthcare strategies for vulnerable patient populations. And new technologies are already helping reduce medical errors, which still represent the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S. These new digital tools will also reduce the burden of electronic health records – a major cause of physician burnout – allowing doctors to spend more time actually treating their patients. And the rapid mushrooming of portable and mobile devices that can be fed into shared medical records and tools will allow a greater continuum of care and more collaborative medicine, helping keep patients out of the hospital and the emergency room. Our panel will take a look at the exciting changes in patient care that will emerge over the next decade.

The Disclosure Decision: How Well Would More Transparency Serve Your Institution and Patients?

Many patients and policymakers are pushing for greater transparency in a variety of ways, such as publishing and promoting doctor satisfaction scores, hospital pricing/spending lists, in-depth patient experience data and outcome measures. Some hospitals have embraced these initiatives, in part because they hope they will build goodwill and brand loyalty among the public. Others have gone even further and unveiled consumer-oriented price-estimator tools to help patients get a clearer sense of the costs associated with care. In 2020, all Colorado hospitals will be required by law to publish detailed annual spending reports, in a move that advocates hope will strengthen transparency and lead to helpful cost comparisons. While increased transparency can have an impact on courting consumers, driving cost competition and tracking quality outcomes, some analysts have raised concerns that unfettered disclosure can have its drawbacks. The requirement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the public release of chargemaster data by hospitals has sparked some confusion and backlash among providers, while the agency’s star ratings have come under fire from the American Hospital Association and others who argue such measures provide a misleading picture to the public. Such moves can also make for broader concerns about data privacy and security. In this session, hear from several providers and experts who can speak to the strengths and weaknesses of transparency moves. In addition, share your feedback about how U.S. News & World Report can enhance its own healthcare rankings and data products to help both consumers and healthcare leaders make more informed decisions.

What’s Your Digital Health Strategy? You Need One – Lessons From Other Industries

The digital patient has arrived. Today’s consumers expect to interact with hospitals and healthcare providers with the same tools that are omnipresent in their everyday lives when they book hotels, travel or buy online. When developing digital strategies, healthcare institutions will now be expected to incorporate portable, mobile, Internet of Things and wearable devices into their planning. Patients will expect convenient two-way communication with caregivers and have options to access their electronic health records, make appointments, refill prescriptions, navigate to hospital appointments, and access virtual monitoring, diagnosis and treatment on their own schedule, at home or on the go. But the integration of mobile apps and virtual care (and the quality of patient experience) still has a long way to go to meet consumer expectations. This panel will take a look at some of the latest developments in digital health and show how hospitals and other providers can up their game to keep pace with digital innovation and evolving healthcare needs.

Track: Value and Population Health

Payers and Providers: Partnering for Better Results

The imperative to deliver improved outcomes at lower cost – a big piece of which is better management of a patient population – is a driving force behind the surge in joint ventures and other partnerships between health systems and insurers. Incentives for collaboration include competition from providers either contracting directly with employers or forming their own health plans, a push for payers to incorporate clinical data in their quality reporting, and an increasing awareness on the part of both camps of the financial and clinical benefits of proactively tackling the social determinants of health. Some institutions have taken things a step further and explored direct contracting with employers, avoiding a traditional insurer altogether. The expectation: that aligning goals and processes and sharing data will mean better results for all parties, including patients. Hear what payers and providers need to know to collaborate successfully.

Health Systems as Community Change-Agents: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

Across the healthcare ecosystem, awareness is growing of the importance – and potential payoff – of investing in screenings and programs to tackle the true drivers of well-being, from food security and employment to early childhood literacy and housing stability. Providers and insurers alike increasingly understand that succeeding at value-based care and population health requires taking care of such unmet needs. Many hospitals and health systems have implemented programs, such as investing in housing programs to address homelessness and housing insecurity, embedding clinicians in schools and community organizations, and working with national and regional payers to explore front-line solutions to help keep people well. North Carolina and other states are finding ways to make their Medicaid programs more accommodating. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has decided to allow Medicare Advantage plans to begin addressing some of these social factors starting in 2019. Hear from pioneers with lessons to share about improving effectiveness and equity of care.

The Difficult Journey to Value: A Roadmap for Success

Recent surveys show that, while the road to value-based care remains a long and difficult one, adoption is well underway among payers, and providers, though they’re slower to dive in than expected, foresee doing so within the near future. Despite the easing of federal mandates, commercial payers are enthusiastically driving the shift, as they discover they’re able to save money while improving care and patient engagement. Respondents to Change Healthcare’s 2018 survey of payers reported savings of nearly 6 percent thanks to their value programs, on average; 80 percent reported that care quality had improved. As for government, the Department of Health and Human Services has returned to exploring bundled payments, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said that the agency would like accountable care organizations to take on risk sooner and would like to find ways to encourage Medicare providers to apply CMS value models outside Medicare, to other patients. Join several pioneering organizations that are well along the path, with experience to share on the moves essential to success as well as lessons learned from making wrong turns.

Telehealth as a Population Health Tool

As telehealth technologies advance, health systems are seeing their power to manage population health more proactively and cost-efficiently. With the geriatric population set to expand significantly over the next three decades, telehealth companies are developing video platforms, medication monitoring services and virtual assistants that should help keep elderly patients healthy in their homes longer. Providers of remote behavioral and mental health services are already offering virtual individual and group therapy to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access, and research has suggested that sessions with a chatbot can do a surprisingly good job of easing depression in young patients reluctant to speak to a therapist. Remote diagnosis is expected to become ever more feasible as artificial intelligence takes over some of the work of assessing symptoms. And the combination of analytics and monitoring via sensor technology like the Apple watch promises to head off trouble before it becomes critical. Hear how the latest tools can be used to manage populations and what you need to know to benefit.

Strategies for Enhancing Mental and Behavioral Health

Until now the mental health system has worked in a silo, with little evidence of care coordination across disciplines. Now, a dire combination of a shortage of trained mental health providers alongside overcrowded emergency rooms and higher rates of those with mental health and behavioral issues is prompting many hospitals to re-examine how they are treating those patients. The National Institutes of Health has published new screening guidelines and more mental health specialists are being embedded into hospital departments. In turn, many healthcare providers are placing mental health professionals into schools or local groups. Some have sought out partnerships with community organizations to increase awareness of the warning signs of depression and/or suicide. Others are investing in dedicated psychiatric emergency departments and training facilities to handle the tide of patients in their communities and connect them to the help they need.

The Hospital’s Critical Role in Battling the Opioid Epidemic

At the front lines of treatment and prevention, hospitals continue to play a big role in addressing and reversing the opioid crisis. Hospitals are trying to keep up with a slew of new guidelines and legislation, like the SUPPORT Act that encourages hospitals to identify alternative pain management techniques in the emergency room. In addition, hospitals and health systems are themselves taking a second look at prescribing patterns of physicians across departments, and implementing dosage guidelines alongside new screening procedures and payment models that encourage evidence-based treatments and ongoing care. New technology can now better track opioid prescriptions, and promising research in predictive analytics and artificial intelligence may soon be able to better predict which patients are most at risk for becoming addicted. Hospitals also have the unique ability to innovate and scale successful programs, and reach beyond their walls to collaborate on solutions and track the problem in their communities.

Track: Pediatric Priorities

Improving Services for the Medically Complex Child: A Family-Centered Approach

Roughly 3 million children have medically complex conditions representing about a third of annual healthcare costs, posing enormous challenges for the healthcare community, families and the most vulnerable patients they care for. Increasingly hospitals are realizing that if they are to improve care and reduce costs they must put families at the center of the equation. Programs like the Children’s Hospital Association’s Coordinating All Resources Effectively (or CARE) initiative through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have helped identify best practices for these children including creating customized family-centric plans for each patient; ensuring that care is coordinated between all caregivers and the families so that patients get the treatment they need when they need it, including at home. Panelists will offer their hands-on experience in implementing these practices and discuss needed structural changes like looking at different payment models that reward coordination and quality care and potential community, government and payer partnerships.

How Children’s Hospitals Can Make an Impact on the Social Determinants of Health

An emerging body of medical research shows that environment can determine health, especially in kids. Children’s HealthWatch reported in 2017 that unstable housing among families with children will cost the U.S. $111 billion in avoidable health and education expenditures over the next 10 years. The rise of research, and incentives from the Affordable Care Act, have spurred providers to make investments in their neighborhoods to “treat” some of these social determinants. Examples include fixing up houses in their local neighborhoods, referring patients facing food insecurity to resources, writing “prescriptions” for a subsidy on fruits and vegetables, implementing strategies to fight the effects of stress and loneliness, and partnering up with community groups. But addressing social determinants still faces challenges. Not all insurance companies will cover non-health related treatments and new screening procedures can be daunting for physicians already with long to-do lists.

The Pediatric Partnership Playbook: Getting the Most Out of Strategic Collaboration

From schools and faith-based organizations to businesses and government and public health agencies, community partners have proven vital to the success of children’s hospitals in their regions. Such partnerships have taken on a greater intensity as providers and payers make a push for population health and institutions track their Community Health Needs Assessments. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, some common lessons have emerged from some of the most successful collaborations, including developing clear program goals and benchmarks, consistent funding streams, effective data sharing, and coordinating caregiver teams and training. Some successful coalitions have centered on specific public health concerns, such as treating asthma or childhood obesity, and the moves can have significant cost-saving implications. Get an inside look at several effective coalitions that can offer lessons for your own institution.

A Population Health Imperative: Tackling Childhood Obesity

Today about 1 in 3 children and teenagers are overweight or obese; the percentage who are obese has tripled since the 1970s. This trend – and the implications for children’s long-term well-being and longevity – has prompted the World Health Organization to call childhood obesity “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.” It’s a challenge that many children’s hospitals are aggressively researching and tackling, seeking to implement the best clinical responses and build out treatment and prevention programs that rely on community partnerships. Directors of several pediatric weight management programs discuss what is known about interventions that work and those that don’t.

Track: Data, Measurement and Rankings

Harnessing Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence to Improve Results

The vast amount of health data generated and stored around the world each day offers significant opportunities for advancement. Interpreting data for deep learning initiatives could help hospitals streamline operations, reduce expenses and, increasingly, directly impact patient experience with personalized care. Analytics provide insights organizations can use to improve quality and reduce costs. Quality data can also be used in clinical decision support, readmission prevention and chronic disease management. However, capturing, analyzing, and sharing health data is difficult and expensive. This session will discuss how to harness data sets into actionable solutions to make data-driven decisions and innovate clinical care improvements.

Focus on Post-Acute Care: Lower Costs, Fewer Readmissions, Happier Patients

The broad effort to reduce hospital readmissions, in part spurred by Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, has led many hospitals to explore novel approaches to curbing return visits by discharged patients. Such efforts have included investing in more sophisticated home-health and telehealth programs, hiring patient navigators, building in strategic service-line interventions, using analytic platforms, and taking aim at the underlying social determinants of health or population health-related conditions that stifle progress. Careful coordination with nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities is also vital, as the proper post-acute pathway can reduce readmissions (and associated penalties), boost patient satisfaction, and help save money for providers, insurers and patients – a potential triple win. In this session, attendees will hear from hospital leaders and healthcare experts who have made real gains in reducing readmissions and length of stay to improve quality and lower costs. In addition, U.S. News & World Report data analysts will share insights based on quality measurement data about the role of better discharge planning in improving performance.

Measuring Excellence in Medical Education: The U.S. News Rankings

Each year, U.S. News surveys the nation’s medical schools and osteopathic medical schools to assess their excellence as research-oriented and primary care-oriented institutions. The 2020 Best Medical Schools rankings rely on a mix of factors, including the opinions of deans and other administrators at peer institutions, input from residency directors, the capabilities of incoming students, and the faculty-to-student ratio. Research activity and placement of graduates into primary care residency programs are also considered for the relevant ranking. In recent years, a methodology for assessing nursing schools has also been developed. Join a discussion with U.S. News Chief Data Strategist Robert J. Morse about the mission and methodologies. Bring your comments and questions.

Inside the U.S. News Best Hospitals Rankings

Inside the U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals Rankings




As of 4/15/19; subject to change