Himan Brown Symposium wheels out the Big Guns to tackle Big Questions

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We like to think that our events at Aging2.0 NYC are pretty well put together, but Jewish Home Lifecare have just raised the bar. 

Their first Himan Brown Symposium on Advances in Senior Health brought together some serious heavyweights to tackle the future of healthcare, smooth organization and an incredible venue - the shiny new Alexandria Center, where cocktails were enhanced by soaring views of the East River and great decor. 

The star of the show was health policy expert, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, currently teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, previously an advisor to the White House OMB, Harvard professor, oncologist author, and all round Smartest Guy In The Room.

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Aging2.0 founder Stephen Johnston, together with a Jewish Home board member, speaking with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.

I got a signed copy (made out to "an Aging2.0 entrepreneur" to give out at  next week's A2 meeting) of the biography of his 3 über achieving brothers (one is Mayor of Chicago, the other head of the William Morris talent agency). 




Dr. Emanuel outlined some powerful stats about the state of the healthcare industry, and the impact that the aging population will have:

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US Spending vs. other countries: based on the correlation with income levels, the US is an outlier - and 'should' be spending $700bn less per year on health than it does currentlUS healthcare spending at $2.8tn is equivalent to the 5th biggest economy in world. Federal spending alone at $1tn is size of S Korea.

  • One third of this spend is on hospitals, (only) 20% to physicians. Prescription drugs (only) 10% of total, and holding steady. (Hospitals beware). 

  • Based on a comparison with other developed countries based on income levels, we spend $700 billion more on healthcare than other western nations (see image at right).

  • Based on current trends - the cost of health care coverage - premiums, deductibles and out of pocket costs  - is set to exceed household income by 2029!

  • Some innovative models such as CareMore have shown that it's possible to serve an aging population with high quality and at much lower costs, focusing on in-home care, prevention and specialized services.

Other expert panellists included:

  • Alice Bonner, PhD, RN, Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She highlighted the fact that 70% of people will need long term care, with an average for 3 years.

  • Jane Lowe, PhD, Senior Advisor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She focused on the need to get consumers involved, and highlighted their successful Greenhouse Project efforts around the country.  

  • Jack Rowe, MD, Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (former CEO of Aetna). Jack highlighted a shortage of 45,000 primary care providers at a time when we're about to insure another 20m Americans. Although nurses are one solution, there are only 16 states where nurses can practice unsupervised. Jack also called for the importance of 'retooling' the workforce to care for an older population, citing a report he'd produced on the topic for the Institute of Medicine. During the cocktails, I chatted with Prof. Rowe and found him to be very engaging. He used to head up Aetna, was a professor (focused on aging) at Harvard and is now Chairman of the Board of Stanford Center on Longevity.

So an excellent event, that brought in some of the most respected names in health. The time flew by, and I was left itching to ask questions and have a follow up session, including:

  • If we are to trim the $2.8 trillion health care budget, some of the status quo will need to lose big. Is there any agreement on who that will be? Are those conversations happening already?

  • How do we get the incumbents to 'disrupt' themselves?

  • How can we make it easier for entrepreneurs to understand the challenges and access these opportunities?

  • How does a Silicon Valley mentality of fail-fast and try something new go over in the healthcare space?

  • How do we open up the conversation to all generations and across other industries? This is an important debate that needs to involve all sectors of society, representing both today's and tomorrow's participants. 


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