Amar Urhekar (left), president of McCann Health for the Americas, moderates a discussion around value-based care with Dr. Ashish Atreja, chief innovation and engagement officer at the Icahn School of Medicine; Dr. Jay Rajda, chief clinical transformation officer for Aetna; and Melinda Richter, head, Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS. Photo credit: Erica Berger

The healthcare business as a whole may be approaching value-based care with its usual overabundance of caution, but actors in and around the industry ecosystem are pushing for more experimentation in a far shorter time frame.

That was the key takeaway from “Value-Based Care: It Takes an Ecosystem,” an afternoon panel held Monday in New York City at the MM&M Transforming Healthcare conference that gave three A-list health-tech innovators an opportunity to weigh in on the changes they’re seeking to effect.

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Moderated by McCann Health Americas president Amar Urhekar, the session further elucidated just how challenging the evolution to outcomes has proven, even for individuals and organizations philosophically and financially predisposed to press for immediate change. While the panelists all said that they see promising signs — within their respective organizations and elsewhere — they noted that the sheer number of moving parts makes the desired systemic overhaul an unusually heavy lift. And that’s before one factors in pharma’s traditional reluctance to embrace change.

Representing the payer universe, Dr. Jay Rajda, Aetna’s chief clinical transformation officer, pointed to that range of constituencies as a key challenge, asking “How do we ingrain these new relationships?” among patients, payers, providers, and others.

By way of response, Melinda Richter, head of Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS, stressed the importance of openness to collaboration — which, she conceded, remains anathema to certain constituencies within the healthcare mix.

“We’re looking at opening our data to partners,” she said. “The biggest thing is we’re trying to start a different conversation. Instead of talking about patients, we’re trying to talk about consumers.”

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That conversation requires a different mindset, noted Dr. Ashish Atreja, chief innovation officer at the Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine. “What fascinates me most is that [the industry] can’t motivate patients to act more like consumers when it comes to health, and health is literally the most important thing,” he said.

Richter said the solution espoused by JLABS is to think big, both in terms of potential innovations and time frame. “We need to think about the system from a different perspective — what the system should be 50 years from now, rather than where the gaps are,” she explained. “Right now we’re just plugging holes. We need to architect the entire system and make it work.”