#LIGHTFORUM2018 Q&A: George Halvorson

George Halvorson is the Chair and CEO of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding. He has served for more than 30 years as CEO of six different health care delivery and financing organizations in the U.S., and he has helped start similar organizations in several other countries. Halvorson served most recently as Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO from 2002 – 2014, before retiring from CEO in July 2013, and Chairman in January 2014.

Currently Halvorson is Chair of the First 5 Commission for Children and Families for the State of California. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Halvorson to a four-year term, and then reappointed him to another four years in 2017.

At LIGHT 2018, George Halvorson will be joining the panel, “Become Technology Companies or Die—Will AI Define the Healthcare Industry of Tomorrow?” (May 9, 9:10 am).


What are the biggest barriers to improving our healthcare system?

The biggest barriers have been financials. The business model of care has not rewarded making care better. In fact, it rewards all the things that go wrong in care. Caregivers do not benefit financially from improving the efficiency or quality of care. We have a very slow uptick in the quality and improvement initiatives that would easily happen if the care system was rewarded for doing them. Asthma is one example. No one is rewarded or paid for preventing asthma attacks.

How can we change the financial model to improve care?

I believe the financial model will change. The missing competency in American healthcare is buying care well. We are inept purchaser of healthcare. When we improve purchasing, we will improve care. The core issue is when we become a better purchaser. As long as caregivers are rewarded for bad outcomes, we will see poorer health.

How will new technology improve early childhood health and development?

It all comes down to helping with prevention. One of the best predictors of healthcare expenses is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). The data shows that an individual with 3 or more ACEs is 3x as likely to be diabetic and 4x as likely to have heart attacks throughout their life. We need to move upstream from early childhood and prevent ACEs from happening in systemic ways.

First 5 CA, Kaiser Permanente, and other systems are working on ACE prevention and the results have been positive. There is a ton of data, but the prevention needs to be actualized.

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