It’s been a busy couple of days and the virtual RISE West 2020 has officially come to a close!

Before we jumped into our last full day of the conference, attendees enjoyed a virtual yoga and meditation session with yoga veteran Kim Larkin, who guided us through relaxing breathing exercises, meditation, and gentle yoga to kickstart another great day of RISE West.

The conference then officially began with a fascinating keynote presentation from Dr. Marc Milstein, a scientist and researcher on health and happiness. During his presentation, Dr. Milstein shared strategies to significantly improve sleep and improve health, something that has proven to be especially difficult throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. His tips: Sleep, be socially engaged, manage stress through mindfulness, keep inflammation low, follow the MIND diet, practice moderate exercise and walking, and treat diabetes.

Next, we heard first-hand accounts from a panel of Medicare and Medicare Advantage (MA) members about their experiences and access to care. The open conversation focused on the pros and cons of Medicare and MA products, how COVID-19 has impacted the member experience, and what plans could do to keep them as members. The panel’s honest feedback shed light on the values and priorities of members. Interestingly, most panelists said they receive too much communication from their plans and would prefer email communication versus print mail or phone calls.

After a break to mix and mingle in the Exhibit Hall, the afternoon sessions continued with a fireside chat with NCQA’s Frank Micciche, VP of public policy and external relations. He discussed with moderator Daniel Weaver of Gateway Health Plan ongoing plans for NCQA to shift to digital capabilities that will allow it to obtain accurate quality measurement and help health plans improve their quality. Micciche expects that electronic reporting of all measures will happen before the 2030 goal date set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). He also expressed disappointment in CMS’ recent decision to give more weight to member experience measures for 2021 Star ratings compared to the traditional HEDIS® preventive care measures. Although high-quality care is part of a positive consumer experience, he said it may not always be reflected in the member’s perception of their care.

Next, we heard the bittersweet (bitter for us, sweet for him) news that RISE Association Executive Director Kevin Mowll plans to retire in mid-October. RISE CEO Ellen Wofford said that more than any single individual, Kevin has been instrumental to the tremendous growth of RISE over his eight-year tenure of devoted service, thought leadership, and subject matter expertise. It is thanks to Kevin’s vision, inspiration, and motivation that RISE has become a congregation of communities providing content every day of the year via user groups, webinars, conferences, job boards, networking, and a resource for members.  We are going to miss Kevin terribly and over the next month of transition, we will be working to minimize any effect on members.

After wiping our tears, we pulled ourselves together to listen the RISE Policy Committee weigh in on telehealth and its impact on health care policy as it relates to quality and risk adjustment. Industry experts Sean Creighton of Humana, Gabriel McGlamery of Florida Blue Center for Health Policy, Howard Weiss from EmblemHealth, and Larry Bishoff from Laurence Bishoff & Associates, shared their thoughts on telehealth guidance and the long-term implications for CMS risk adjustment and the CMS bid process for 2021 and 2022. 

We then split into two concurrent sessions on risk adjustment and quality and trending topics in data and tech. The first two tracks focused on how COVID-19 is affecting quality engagement scores and ways that technology can help close the gaps on risk score deficits. The second pair of concurrent tracks featured case studies on a successful partnership between a payer and their primary care providers and how one health plan tapped into SDoH data to advance health equity efforts.

The conference closed with one last keynote presentation from Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and chief executive officer, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. During the fireside chat, Dr. Klasko shared insights on how COVID-19 will have a long-term impact (for the better) on the health care landscape. He believes the pandemic will be the catalyst to shift health care from a fragmented system to a health assurance system within the next 10 years.