Well-rounded leaders understand healthcare trends and effects

Class of 2022 shown in individual screens on ZoomLeadership Baltimore County Class of 2022 examines the health of our community

More than two years into a global pandemic, we have had a crash course in how critically healthcare underpins society and has far-reaching effects on everything from the economy to education. For those working in healthcare or dealing with a personal medical condition, the topic is always front and center. For others, the impact of health care on our daily lives can be more subtle, even hidden.

Leadership Baltimore County regularly asks its classes to take a closer look at healthcare. As leaders in our community, a deeper understanding of healthcare helps shape better public policy, business decisions, social justice and the future of the greater Baltimore region.

It’s a massive topic to tackle in a single day. Sponsored by CareFirst, the LBC Class of 2022 brought in healthcare experts to provide their perspectives, including Dr. Gregory Branch, director of Health and Human Services for Baltimore County, Pothik Chatterjee, AVP Innovation & Operations Support at LifeBridge Health; Emily Durfee, director of Strategy & Portfolio Acceleration at Healthworx, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield; Sarah Kachur, executive director of Population Health Analytics, Strategy and Solutions at Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions; and Jill Degraff, vice president of Regulatory of b.well Connected Health. Their insights were invaluable.

Dr. Branch focused on how effective leadership in times of crisis begins by planning in times of stability, before you get to the crisis like a pandemic.  It means building a skeleton infrastructure in advance, testing organization-wide communication systems and having a strong team that can all adapt to any crisis that arises.

Dr. Branch speaks on Zoom“I really appreciated Dr. Branch’s enthusiasm, knowledge and dedication,” said one class member.

Pothik Chatterjee, talked about the need to explore new ways of getting health care messages to people, sharing an example of partnering with barber shops to deliver health information and leveraging technology to reduce emergency re-admissions. The approach helped LifeBridge clearly imagine how innovation can impact wellness in our community.

Emily Durfee, Jill Degraff and Sarah Kucher all talked about the revolution in data analytics that illuminate new approaches and help people get to care with as little friction as possible. While data creates insights, it is critical that healthcare organizations invest in building trust and transparency with patients and communities.

Class participants were also able to virtually tour the emergency department of the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. In Maryland, there is a unique approach to the economics of healthcare, rewarding hospitals to take a more active role in preventative health measures designed to deliver care that keeps people with recurring conditions out of emergency rooms.

The state’s global hospital budget model sets the prices hospitals can charge, also known as all-payer rate setting. Maryland has also capped how much health spending can grow overall, including hospital revenue.

Four speakers (one man and three women) speak to class in individual Zoom screens.Although unique in the U.S., it is a more common model worldwide. It is designed to contain healthcare costs. Hospitals in Maryland are incentivized by treating the condition, rather than full waiting rooms.

While the model’s effectiveness is still under evaluation, LBC classes are made aware of the unique system in our state — a critical starting point in conversations on rising costs, healthcare workforce development, health insurance policy and treatment innovations.

The class also examined how social factors determine the quality of a person’s health. Social determinants like income level, race, and where you live are all factors.  Poor environmental conditions, access to clean water and nutritious food sources, and proximity to quality health care institutions shape health.

Ryan Mihalic, LBC ’18, of CareFirst said the healthcare insurer is aiming to create fair opportunity for people to be as healthy as possible. They are working more on understanding and addressing social determinants of health.

To examine this topic, LBC ’22 class members adopted personas with different social determinants to better understand challenges they might face in getting treatment for cancer. They looked at differences in access to transportation, distance from healthcare, and access to funds/insurance as factors in treatment.

The LBC health care session was a chance for leaders to build a deeper understanding of this critical topic, hear from local experts, understand how healthcare interconnects with other issues, and even try to experience another person’s journey to better inform their own.

Congratulations to the Heatlh Care Day Planning Team for putting together such an engaging day:

Credit: Guest writer Aaron Koos, LBC ’21, with BGE.