In Case You Missed It: The 5 Best Things About the IHC Private Exchange Forum

By Ernie Harris (@ErnieHarris)

Last week I had the privilege to not only attend, but also co-chair the first annual Institute for Healthcare Consumerism’s Private Exchange Forum. The Forum is a 2-day event focusing exclusively on the world of private exchanges and this year was held in Dallas, Texas.

While working with the IHC to plan this event, we projected roughly 250 attendees—when tallying results right before we all descended on Dallas, we had accepted almost twice as many!  Sure, it was a packed house with more people and more sponsors that we could have hoped for but man, what a show!

My good friend John Young (@consumerdriven) was my fellow co-host.  John and I have known each other for some time now and I, along with many in the industry, consider him to be one of the grandfathers of healthcare consumerism.  (I would have said father but John’s got a few years on me so I need to make sure there is appropriate generational separation for when he retires and I’m still kicking it.)  I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the CEO of the IHC, Doug Field (@the_IHC).  Doug introduced me to this space and without his support I would not be where I am today. 

5. Fantastic Venue – The Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel was a great place to stay with easy access to restaurants AND light-rail access to down town.  Every attendee I talked to raved about his or her evening meals and experiences.

4. Great Sponsors – There was a top-notch roster of sponsors for this event—many of which also exhibited, creating a great backdrop to the content presented.  We at Maestro Health (@maestrohealth) were proud to both sponsor and exhibit—debuting our new brand story AND announcing our next generation platform maestroEDGE™.

3. Content, Content, Content – There was truly something for everyone at this show.  Whether interested in what business models are working vs. those that aren’t, learning how employers are embracing private exchanges (or not) or exploring compliance issues, the speaker sessions and panel discussions at this show had you covered.  Another good friend of mine, Jody Dietel (@jdietel) Chief Compliance Officer for WageWorks (@WageWorks), moderated a panel of health plan experts from BCBS, Cigna, Aetna and UPMC exploring what product strategies were working for them both inside and outside exchanges.  Always engaging, Jody is just one example of how you can combine the rigor of compliance with the business of making money and still have fun.

2. Engaging Speakers – We heard from industry leaders representing all facets of private exchanges and healthcare consumerism.  There was a substantial representation of Dallas area businesses as well as big names employers from around the country.  The speakers were well versed, engaging and at times highly entertaining but kept relevant information at the heart of their sessions.

What was THE best thing at the show, you ask? I might be a little bias, but here it is:

1. Networking – for me the best thing about the show is the quality of attendees it drew and their eagerness to challenge, participate and discuss with one another. In addition to John and Doug (if you don’t know them already, please let me know and I’d be happy to make an introduction) I had the opportunity to spend time with 400 others with diverse views, compelling offerings, interesting needs and best of all great personal interests.

All in all, this was a fantastic event—bringing together individuals from all aspects of the industry, both seeking and providing the most current information. Sometimes when you go to these things you think to yourself, “Man, I’m glad that one is behind me.”  For me, when I sat at DFW waiting to board my flight, I just kept thinking, “I can’t wait to go to Atlanta in June and see who is in attendance at the IHC Forum East!”