Too Big To Ail: Foster summit explores a prescription for healthcare


Christopher Kersey

What the heck is wrong with healthcare? And why is the customer experience so bad?

Those basic questions, from the mouths of Foster MBAs to Gubby Barlow, the retired CEO of Premera Blue Cross and current Edward V. Fritzky Chair in Leadership at the Foster School, served to inspire today’s “Too Big to Ail” conference on making healthcare work better in a changing world.

“Rather than focus on the negative,” Barlow said in his opening remarks, “we thought we’d turn it on its head and focus on the opportunities that arise from a broken system of health—certainly one that can be far more efficient and customer-focused.”

Gubby Barlow

Gubby Barlow

Keynote speaker Christopher W. Kersey set the stage. A partner with the private equity firm Camden Partners, Kersey outlined the inefficient $2.9 trillion United States healthcare industry which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (and steaming toward a projected 37 percent by 2050). “The U.S. is at a precipice,” Kersey said.

What’s more, that enormous outlay into healthcare is not correlating with healthy outcomes. For instance, the U.S. life expectancy lags behind many developed countries that spend far less of their GDP on healthcare.

“Clearly our healthcare dollar is not being wisely spent,” Kersey said. “And as an investor, as entrepreneurs and future executives, that translates into opportunity.”

He defined opportunity in six emerging megatrends that will transform healthcare:

  • Cybersecurity: balancing privacy vs. convenience
  • Big Data and Revenue Cycle Management: leveraging improved analytics
  • Demographics: creating population-specific solutions
  • Personalized Medicine: big data is meeting improved diagnostics
  • Bio Pharma: breakthroughs in biotech investing
  • The “Internet of Things” and Mobile Health: improving outcomes through data.

The common denominator? Technology.

A pair of panels explored these opportunities in depth.

Ed Fritzky, the former chairman and CEO of Immunex, moderated a discussion of “Capitalizing on Opportunities in Healthcare,” with panelists Nathan Every, M.D., general partner of Frazier Healthcare; Aaron Martin, senior vice president for strategy and innovation at Providence Health & Services; and Russell Benaroya, co-founder and CEO of EveryMove.

Aaron Martin, Russell Benaroya, Nathan Every and moderator Ed Fritzky

Aaron Martin, Russell Benaroya, Nathan Every and moderator Ed Fritzky

Curtis Kopf, the vice president of customer experience at Premera Blue Cross, led a conversation on “Health Care that Meets Consumer Expectations,” with panelists Anne Weiler, CEO of Wellpepper; Bill Frerichs, vice president of retail healthcare at Zoom+; and Paul Stoddart, vice president of marketing at Providence Health & Services.

Jeff Roe, the president and CEO of Premera Blue Cross, spoke on “Changing Health Care from Within.”

Ken Schmidt, a former marketing executive at Harley-Davidson, delivered a lunchtime keynote.

And Foster MBA candidate Dina Yadlin, president of the Foster MBA Healthcare and Biotechnology Association, closed the proceedings.

Nearly 300 healthcare leaders and Foster students attended the “Too Big to Ail” conference, which was hosted by the Foster School and presented by the Fritzky Chair in Leadership, Premera Blue Cross and Providence Health & Services.

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