5 Lessons from Davos

Bruce BroussardIn a series of LinkedIn Influencer blog posts, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard shares insights and ideas about the future of health care and discusses the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being. His latest — 5 Lessons from Davos — is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

To help my company reach its bold goal – to help the communities we serve be 20 percent healthier by 2020 because we make it easy for people to achieve their best health – I spend a great deal of time in these communities. I want a localized, firsthand understanding of the best practices that my company can take to address and solve health challenges.

I’m an avid reader and a strong believer in lifelong learning. I also think leaders should look for new venues to gain perspective from those outside their immediate circles but facing similar obstacles. That’s what led me to Davos, Switzerland, last week for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

At WEF, I connected with a wide variety of leaders in government and business from around the world. I participated in a panel – “The New Health Paradigm” – where I discussed addressing chronic disease progression and how the value-based payment model can support the member experience. As a member of WEF’s Health and Healthcare Governors Community, I also spoke about my company’s role in its Atlanta Heart Failure Pilot program, which is designed to improve how congestive heart failure is treated in the Atlanta region.

Listed below are some of my lessons learned and takeaways from Davos:

1. We have many reasons to be optimistic about 2018. It was uplifting to see how leaders from a wide variety of industries are making, or planning to make, strategic investments. For example, a recent survey by PwC found that “for the first time since we began asking the question in 2012, the majority of CEOs surveyed believe global economic growth will ‘improve.’ In fact, the percentage of CEOs predicting ‘improved’ growth doubled from last year.”

My takeaway: It’s an exciting time to be driving change in health care. The euphoria can be scary, because it raises expectations. But the biggest risk is taking no risk at all.

2. Technology is rapidly disrupting industries, even as the world tries to coexist with technology. From social media giants dealing with fake news, to the auto industry being disrupted by self-driving cars, companies are dealing with challenges that will reshape how they operate. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will reshape the world and force companies to cross boundaries that they have not previously considered.

My takeaway: Be prepared to disrupt your company before someone, or some entity, does it to you. AI is going to change the way work is done, and we must help people learn new skills to adapt to this new normal.

3. Balance capital returns with sustainability. I had numerous conversations about the letter that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink sent to CEOs a week before the conference. In his letter, Fink wrote that “society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”

My takeaway: You don’t have to be a CEO to understand that social purpose is critical to long-term sustainability for any company. In a 21st century environment, all of the core audiences must benefit in order to balance capital returns with sustainability.

4. Davos is a unique place that draws a diverse group of people and cultures. I struck up a conversation at dinner one night with a diplomat from Oman who had been coming to Davos for 25 years. He had a fascinating story: his parents were killed when he was 5 years old, he spent the next 15 years in an orphanage, and he went on to be a fisherman in Alaska. After attending the University of Michigan, he made his way to Oman. During our chat, I thought about how Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keynote highlighted how Davos is one of those unique places that brings a diverse group of people together to work on issues that have world, business and social consequences.

My takeaway: Davos helped me see the resiliency and the passion that attendees have for solving the world’s social, business and political problems. At an event like this, you can see problems through others’ eyes. If we’re going to unite to solve the world’s problems, forums like Davos – which thrive on diversity and perspective – must become more frequent.

5. Health care has an exciting future, but technology will only take it so far. It was enlightening to see the passion that leaders from across the world harbor for building a healthier world using technology. Establishing standards in data exchange will help facilitate the widespread deployment of easy-to-access electronic medical records. And telemedicine might vastly improve health in India, where care is not easily accessible.

My takeaway: We all welcome technology that improves care, but the decades-old fee-for-service system that creates billions in waste must end. Payment reforms like value-based care – which reward physicians and clinicians for the health of the patients they serve, not the number of services they provide – will be a key element in this transformation.

While Davos is the premier gathering of world leaders, it is only four days out of the year. It’s up to us to keep the momentum and excitement going – in research labs, in boardrooms, in schools and other venues.

Leaders must channel the power of optimism to build a purpose-driven business strategy, one with long-term sustainability that goes beyond the profit model.

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