Leaders from various sectors of the health care industry convened at Fordham on Sept. 27 to share insights on one of the most serious questions of the day:

What can be done to stem the rising cost of healthcare?

The event, “Healthcare Innovations: Bending the Cost Curve,” focused on the joint objectives of improving patient care and reducing the cost of delivering it.

Panelists included:

• Nancy Nielsen, M.D., of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation;
• Michael Dowling, CEO, Northshore LIJ Health System;
• Frank Branchini, president and COO, EmblemHealth;
• Jeffrey Spaeder, M.D., chief medical and scientific officer, Quintiles; and
• Jaime Torres, regional director, Region II, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We do not have terrific health outcomes in this country,” Nielsen said. “Part of that is due to lifestyle choices. On the other hand, there is something really very wrong with our system when we are spending so much more [than other nations]and getting so much less.”

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Michael J. Dowling, the CEO of Northshore LIJ Health System, points out the positive aspects of the American health care system. Photo by Michael Dames

Panel members also spoke about the challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry given regulatory uncertainty, the high cost of end-of-life care and the implications of rolling out the Affordable Care Act.

Nielsen spoke about the pressing need to work together toward innovation, but also stressed that the interests of all parties must be addressed.

“It is really important that we lay down arms—not decide who is the enemy of the day. Instead, we should build bridges to try to figure out how to solve the gap that has been so well described as the quality chasm,” she said.

“None of us can do it alone. It is true that all of our industries are concerned about their well-being and sustainability. When something would threaten your economic well-being, you’re going to fight back,” she said.

Dowling said that from his perspective on the ground in a hospital, the healthcare situation is challenging, but not as bleak as the media may suggest.

“When you pick up the newspaper, you have an avalanche of negativity about healthcare in the United States. But there is also an awful lot of great stuff going on. There is a lot more in common between the various stakeholders than one would necessarily think,” Dowling said, referencing several of his fellow panel members.

Falguni Sen, Ph.D., director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center Photo by Michael Dames

The discussion marked the first public event hosted by Fordham’s Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center.

The multi-stakeholder panel was an example of how the center can have a significant impact on creating innovations in healthcare, according to Falungi Sen, Ph.D., founding director of the center and chair of the management systems area at the Fordham Schools of Business.

“The panelists aren’t people who regularly work together,” Sen said. “Yet they were very respectful of each other, pointed out their differences and conflicts, and didn’t get to any acrimony between the perspectives.”

Sen said he felt the event provided a significant first step in opening the kind of conversations that will move these issues forward.

“The event clarified in people’s minds what the key issues in our healthcare debate really are,” he said. “People have heard the issues before, but they have not understood them substantively,” he said.

More than 150 members of the healthcare industry from across the tri-state area attended the event.

Sen said the center plans to release a paper summarizing the panel’s discussion this fall.

– Jennifer Spencer