5 Things Alaska: “Crisis Now,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, What you missed

It seems like a lifetime ago that we hosted about 300 folks at the 2019 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference – but it was only back on October 2nd.  Perhaps that’s a commentary on how fast things appear to be moving in our political space, particularly at the federal level. So, we tee up a few things we learned from this year’s conference for you in this month’s newsletter.  As always, thanks for reading our stuff.



With help from Emily Boerger

1. What you missed in Anchorage

As I mentioned, earlier this month we hosted about 300 senior health care executives and health policy leaders at our annual conference, including some of the most important leaders and organizations in the state. You can check out the highlights in this short reel for a feel of the sights and sounds at the event.

We also have a lot of great content up on our website for your review! We began the day with a keynote from Providence Health and Services Alaska CEO Preston Simmons. DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum offered remarks during one of our lunch keynotes, and then sat down with me for a one-on-one conversation. We rounded out the day with a conversation on “The Intersection of Market and Policy in Alaska Health Care” with Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, and Verné Boerner, President & CEO of the Alaska Native Health Board.

2. Video: Murkowski talks impeachment

We were honored to have US Senator Lisa Murkowski join us as our other lunch time keynote at the conference. During her time on stage, we talked through her work on health care, her vote on the repeal of the ACA, and her thoughts on the impeachment process that has newly unfolded in the nation’s capital. Her comments are worth watching, as they were some of the first comments on impeachment made by a sitting US senator in a public forum.

“I’m also trying to think to myself ‘If this set of facts were to be in front of me, and the president were President Hillary Clinton instead of President Donald Trump, would I be viewing this in a different way?’  Because if I do, that’s wrong. I shouldn’t view what is right and what is wrong based on the political affiliation of the individual that we are considering.”


3. Q&A: Getting inter-operability in “Cures” to work

We recently covered two interesting happenings in data on the national level – the Blue Button 2.0 initiative and the 21st Century Cures Act. This week, we bring you a Q&A with Colt Courtright, Director of Corporate Data & Analytics at Premera BlueCross BlueShield, for an expansive dive into the details of an HHS proposed rule on inter-operability, and some of the challenges and innovations surrounding the topic.

From Courtright: “We will need a live system: payer to payer, payer to provider, payer to member, payer to third-party app. But no one has actually done it, so we all have more to learn and there’s still a lot of work to be done.”


4. Implementation of a “Crisis Now” model of care

A topic of conversation during a recent Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority stakeholder meeting, and a subject we heard referenced multiple times during the 2019 Alaska State of Reform Conference, is the incorporation of a “Crisis Now” model of care in Alaska. The model utilizes mobile teams, a crisis call center hub, and short-term crisis stabilization facilities to divert individuals experiencing a mental health crisis away from EDs and the criminal justice system.

States that have already implemented this model are seeing savings in money and resources. A study discussed during the Trusts’ meeting recommends implementing the model in Alaska in the next 6 months – 2 years, and notes that the Trust and DHSS are already in communications with Recovery International, a leader in the Crisis Now model.

5. Behavioral health data exchange

In a recent presentation given by healtheConnect’s Laura Young on our “What does Innovation look like in Alaska?” panel, Young discussed plans to build a data exchange network for behavioral health care providers. According to her presentation, HealtheConnect will begin collecting data from providers and the information will be displayed on a special BH tab in healtheHUB.

Initiatives to address behavioral health seem to be a bit stalled at the state level. So, it’s notable that heatheConnect is trying to build this important infrastructure so that treatment outcomes are not at the mercy of outdated technology.