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Spring Luncheon Keynote:
Healthcare Trends, Information Technology and You

Jeff Margolis, CEO of The TriZetto Group.Healthcare is something that many Americans with coverage take for granted and shouldn't. Certainly the 44 million Americans without any healthcare insurance don't have a blasé attitude about access to medical care and covered or shared payment for treatment. Jeff Margolis, CEO and founder of The TriZetto Group, a $300-million, California-based company that focuses exclusively on the healthcare industry, doesn't think anyone can afford to take a casual approach to healthcare. Margolis was the keynote speaker at the 44th annual College of Business Alumni Association Spring Luncheon in Chicago. He was also the recipient of the College of Business Appreciation Award given by the College of Business Alumni Association to an alumnus or friend who has performed outstanding service to the organization.

In a keynote to the more than 400 Spring Luncheon attendees, Margolis reviewed some current healthcare trends. Many employers are slowing funding for healthcare causing personal, out-of-pocket costs to increase to a level where consumers are starting to consider the amount significant. One way coverage is being reduced is by only covering the employee and shifting all costs of family coverage to the employee. When consumers notice the impact on their wallets, Margolis noted, behaviors change.

The alumni in attendance ranged from the recent graduate to the retired executive. Margolis included in his talk several informal, raise-your-hand surveys of the audience about their healthcare coverage and basic medical knowledge. His recommendations for taking charge of healthcare concerns were appropriate for all age groups. Among his suggestions: make healthcare a line item in your personal budget, set aside funds for healthcare in retirement, and understand your options. He believes consumers need to educate themselves, learn about their benefits options, plan ahead, and learn how to be a good consumer of healthcare.

In a January 2004 article in Health Management Technology titled "The Health Plan of Tomorrow," Margolis wrote that "[a]s they pick up more of the tab each year, consumers will expect more say in the delivery of their healthcare. They'll demand better service from health plans, more information about doctors and hospitals, and more help navigating the healthcare system." He also believes that cost pressures will ultimately produce efficiency and modernization, and he predicts that much of this will be possible because of better use of technology. Internet-based applications such as 24/7 access to information and transactions and personalized programs for acute or chronically ill patients will benefit the consumer and the healthcare provider.

A prediction in the article and in his keynote is that consumers will have a "personal health record" that will be transportable and secure and that will offer a new level of flexibility for consumers seeking services. Consumers will come to expect more information about service providers and costs, treatment options, and their benefits program. Again, technology will offer a good portion of the solution. In the 2004 article, Margolis wrote that a solid connect between a health plan's website and the "workhorse backend system" will make possible what he calls "straight-through" processing of an entire business and healthcare transaction.

The 1984 graduate ended his keynote with a observation that was similar to the conclusion he offered in his Health Management Technology article: "The age of consumerism is upon us, bringing with it great expectations that will push our industry to new levels of innovation and efficiency. Technology can help us get there faster and in ways we never expected."

 

--Ginny Hudak-David
March 2004