Second health conference gears up

The high cost of healthcare in the Cayman Islands is coming under the microscope this month at the National Healthcare 20/20 Conference. 

The second annual National Healthcare 20/20 Conference to be held this month in Cayman will explore the economics of providing and sustaining a affordable, quality health care system. 

The conference will be held on 17-19 November at the Ritz-Carlton and has attracted a wide range of speakers. 

Minister Mark Scotland said he envisioned the conference would provide valuable insight on developing and maintaining a viable healthcare system for Cayman, for now and for the future. 

In announcing the upcoming conference, titled “Healthcare Economics: The Search for Quality and Affordability”, at a press briefing in September, the minister admitted that some might considered the quest to attain an affordable, sustainable, quality healthcare system may seem like “an overly ambitious and, frankly, impossible task, but most revolutionary ideas do, when first presented”. 

He emphasised the need for all stakeholders within the public and private health industries, including the hospitals, doctors, health insurers, employers and employees, to come together to figure out how to provide affordable, quality healthcare to citizens, adding that, so far, no country in the would had been able to do that. 

The Cayman Islands Government’s annual healthcare bill is about $90 million, almost 15 per cent of the government’s operating budget. 

“We have to be able to provide high-quality care facing the fiscal reality of limited resources both human and financial,” the minister said.  

He added: “In addition, we must ensure that both physicians and patients are more engaged in the issues surrounding the cost of healthcare. We are talking about a culture change in how we all look at the medical industry and how it is funded and managed.” 

To enable the development of a healthcare system that is affordable for all, patients also have to come on board, Minister Scotland said. 

“Everyone needs to understand there must be a culture change. Patients need to become more proactive in managing their own healthcare. Physicians need to be more engaged with their patients. And both of these parties will have to become more involved in how the medical industry is financed,” he said. 

He said the Health Services Authority would also have to accept the reality of competition for clients from other health entities. 

“In simplest terms, the Cayman Islands will need to shift from a de facto nationalised system of healthcare to one that operates more like a free market, but one that is based on evidence-based practices and scientific evidence, not patient preference or old habits,” he added. 

The National Health Care 20/20 Conference is free of charge for attendees, thanks to its sponsors, explained the Ministry of Health’s Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn. 

“We are offering this conference free of charge to the registrants, because we want to make sure we reach as broad a representation as possible,” she said.  

“We want to get all the stakeholders around a table, practitioners, private insurance companies, the patients and the general public because we think healthcare is so important and impacts so many aspects of everybody’s lives that we want to make sure that everyone can take advantage of it,” Ms Ahearn added. 

The conference will aim to help Cayman look at its own medical industry and how it is managed and funded, leading to a sustainable and equitable model of healthcare for all the residents of the Cayman Islands. 

Organisers of the conference explained that there were so many high-level international speakers at the conference that there would be no keynote speaker this year. Subject matters to be covered in the conference span from health insurance to reducing waste to medical tourism, the minister explained. 

Among the international speakers are Tomas Philipson, a healthcare economist from the University of Chicago; Elinor Caplan, former Canadian Provincial Minister of Health; Dr. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, CEO of the Bermuda Health Council; Seth A. Avery, chief executive officer of Applied Revenue Analytics; Dr. Paul Nisselle, senior consultant at the Medical Protection Society; Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association; Keith Allred of the HB Strategy Group; Ralph Lawson of Baptist International; Cindy Jimmerson, founder and president of Lean Healthcare West; Dr. Brent James of Intermountain Healthcare; and David Evans, director of employer services for Cerner. 

They will be joined by local speakers, including Minister Scotland; Dale Sanders, the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority’s chief information officer; and Lizzette Yearwood, CEO of the Health Services Authority. 

The first 20/20 health care conference, held in November 2010, focused on creating a comprehensive development plan for health care in the Cayman Islands. 

Among the sponsors of this year’s conference are the Ministry of Health, Britcay and Lime. 

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Brent James

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