Neil Goldfarb Previews the 2024 GPBCH Annual Conference


Neil Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH), shared insight into the themes and sessions at the upcoming GPBCH Annual Conference taking place June 6, 2024.

Neil Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health (GPBCH), shared insight into the themes and sessions at the upcoming GPBCH Annual Conference taking place June 6, 2024.


Why is this year's theme, "Getting Health Benefits Value in a Spiraling World," important for employers in the current environment?

We are very excited about this year's agenda because it is more important than ever that employers work together to address some of the key challenges that our health care system faces. Employers are funding a system that is really spiraling out of control in many ways: costs continue to go up, inflation is outpacing general inflation in the United States, hospitals are consolidating more than ever into large systems. It's becoming increasingly difficult to get fair prices on health care services, especially hospital services. And there are lots of concerns about declining population health, growing obesity rates, and growing concerns about mental health as a result of the pandemic.

We don't want employers to feel frustrated or have learned helplessness. We think that there are things that can be done by employers and things that are going on in the broader system that are rays of hope. And so what we want to do in this conference is really spotlight some of the challenges, some of the solutions, and particularly the role of employers in driving change.

What are some highlights from the agenda this year that attendees can look forward to?

We're really excited about the speakers we've lined up for this year's program and the panel sessions, as well. Starting off the conference, we have a keynote speaker, Ashley Bacot, who is with the Rosen organization in Florida. People in the Northeast may be less familiar with Rosen Hotels, but it's a large hotel chain in Florida, and the Rosen organization as an employer has a fantastic story to tell about how they stemmed health care costs for their workforce—things that they did to drive primary care, and to drive workforce health and engagement of the workforce. We think it's a great story. We think it's something that many other employers could and should be doing, and so we're excited to bring Ashley up from Florida to share this experience.

Our afternoon keynote is going to be speaking about the challenges being faced by employers in an increasingly litigious world. From a regulatory perspective, we've seen a couple of lawsuits now from employees aimed at employers regarding benefits and equity and particularly fiduciary responsibility that employers have. We think this is a critical issue, so we wanted to talk about what's going on in the regulatory environment, how employers can prepare so that they are at lower risk of being sued by their employees.

We also have several great panel discussions during the day. One of them is on driving care excellence. How can employers identify who are the better providers? When your health plan says, "We've identified a network of centers of excellence," what questions should you be asking to see if those centers are really, truly excellent or if they were selected based on cost and not on quality of care?

We have a session on how employers can help drive use of primary care. We as a coalition are strong believers that if everybody had access to high-quality primary care and had a good relationship with a primary care doctor, we would see significantly lower utilization and cost associated with [emergency department] visits and hospitalization, and pharmaceuticals and all the other cost drivers. So we'll be talking about primary care.

We also have a session on artificial intelligence [AI]. Everybody wants to know, "What does AI mean for my population? What does it mean for me as a benefits manager or another healthcare stakeholder?" So, we've got a great panel discussion about AI. And then we have a few other sessions, including a great speaker on how New Jersey as a state is trying to create greater transparency and control costs. That should be an interesting session because employers should be working with state government agencies to at least know what's going on in the states. We have a session on cancer prevention and management, so we're really covering a lot of ground in a fairly short amount of time.

Beyond the packed agenda, what networking opportunities does the annual meeting provide attendees?

The GPBCH annual conference brings together employers and other system stakeholders to talk about how we can work together to improve health and health care. We typically have between 250 and 300 people in attendance, so beyond a great programming concept, it also provides a wonderful opportunity for people to network with each other. And also we'll have a room full of exhibitors, who are some of the leading-edge thinkers about what's next in health care and what employers can do to reduce costs and improve access to care and health, and other issues like equity.

We've heard in the past, and I think this year will be no different, that the time spent with exhibitors and other attendees was also excellent. We encourage everybody to attend—the meeting is open not just to GPBCH members but also to the public, so we encourage people to check out the agenda and consider registering.

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