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DSIIS Kickoff Day Report

On December 18, 2018, representatives of institutions from multiple sectors of the U.S. healthcare industry came together at HHS to participate in the first Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit (DSIIS). Formed by Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, the DSIIS seeks to accelerate innovation and increase investment in healthcare in alignment with HHS Secretary Azar’s four key priorities. DSIIS convened healthcare investors and innovators with HHS leadership to facilitate a conversation to better understand the innovation and investment landscape, to identify emerging opportunities and unnecessary barriers, and to discuss the government’s role in facilitating investment and innovation in healthcare. The dynamic, day-long dialogue between HHS leaders and DSIIS participants identified four areas of focus critical to accelerating healthcare innovation and investment.

DSIIS Best practices for approval and reimbursement to limit uncertainty | Transitioning to Value-Based Care | Consumer engagement and empowerment | Liberating data to drive value

The kickoff meeting introduced participants to HHS, highlighting the strategic goals, key operating procedures, regulatory actions, and funding mechanisms that its constituent agencies have to support innovation. Participants provided insights based on their experiences as private sector innovators and investors.

“It is great to see HHS develop this new type of engagement with a part of the healthcare industry that it hasn’t connected with historically.” –Annie Lamont, Participant & Managing Director of Oak HC/FT
Deputy Secretary Hargan speaking at a table with people

Following opening remarks by HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan and a department overview by Associate Deputy Secretary Will Brady, Dr. Don Rucker, from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) shared how ONC is decreasing physicians’ EHR documentation burden, developing frameworks for data standardization, advancing the use of open API’s, and driving interoperability of healthcare data systems.

“Collaboration between HHS and private sector investors and innovators is critical to advancing new solutions and evolving healthcare in America” -Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, HHS

From the Executive Office of the President, John Brooks identified some barriers to innovation, inciting a vigorous discussion of the types of innovation and investments of interest to the Executive Office.

Dr. Thomas Keane from the Deputy Secretary’s office shared the Trump Administration’s Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs which was released in May 2018. Dr. Keane noted the complexity in formulating a robust program for drug price transparency.

DSIIS Presenter speaking at a group of tables

Next, Capt. Meena Vythilingam, from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), presented data on the magnitude and severity of America’s opioid crisis. Preliminary data suggest that HHS efforts are helping to bend the curve of rising overdose deaths. Capt. Vythilingam recommended maintaining a sense of urgency and continuing an “all hands on deck” approach to win the war against the opioid epidemic. She reviewed HHS’s five-point strategy to address the crisis, and described the cross-agency initiatives in process.

Jim Parker, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Health Reform, gave an overview of the state of insurance markets. Mr. Parker spoke about the principles and goals informing the Secretary’s activities.

Lauren Silvis, Chief of Staff to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, showcased FDA’s success in reducing drug review cycle times, success in reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, and success in clarifying the definition of “healthy foods”, among other examples.

Adam Boehler, Director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Value-Based Transformation and Innovation, was the morning’s final presenter, leading a discussion on the department’s shift to value-based care models. Boehler outlined initiatives in four areas: patients as consumers, providers as accountable navigators, paying for outcomes, and prevention of disease.

“Pursuing cross-agency collaboration and public/private partnership could be avenues for enabling prevention and reducing medical spend” -Adam Boehler, HHS

Following the morning presentations, each DSIIS participant had the opportunity to provide an example of how the existing regulatory environment has hampered their organization’s attempts to invest or innovate. Providers, payers and investors all shared stories. While each example was unique, consistent themes emerged. Multiple participants described lengthy and uncertain review cycles; others described the difficulties in advancing healthcare in an unpredictable reimbursement environment; and all described a reluctance to invest within an unpredictable regulatory framework. Participants provided HHS with detailed insights into the challenges faced by the healthcare investor community and the innovator community as a whole.

The remainder of the day was spent distilling the information from the discussions into focus areas for subsequent meetings.

“Nothing will scare investors like an uncertain regulatory framework” -Bill Geary, Participant & Co-Founder of Flare Capital Partners
Groups sitting at round tables at the DSIIS

The HHS team and DSIIS participants agreed to focus ongoing efforts generally on four issues critical to innovators and investors within healthcare:

  • Transitioning to Value-Based Care
  • Empowering consumers and increasing their engagement
  • Liberating data to drive value
  • Developing best practices for approval and reimbursement of medical products and services

What's Next?

In future meetings, HHS will discuss decreasing uncertainties that can, and should be effected through the Department by considering the participant highlighted issues. As a first step, the group will discuss an achievable future state of healthcare in each of these four domains of focus. The DSIIS participants will identify critical roles in the desired future state, will hear from subject matter experts, and will discuss specific actions that may be effective in moving toward that future state.  This discussion may lead to a better understanding, enabling greater market certainty and allowing innovators and investors to assess the key drivers of innovation in that potential future state.

2nd DSIIS Meeting, Date - Apr 9th

What does the future look like and who are the players?

3rd DSIIS meeting, Date - TBD

Hearing from the identified players and what they think about the future.

4th DSIIS Meeting, Date - TBD

What needs to occur to reach the future and what impacts the likelihood of those actions?

HHS looks forward to continuing this dialogue in 2019. The Department has received continued support and interest in leveraging DSIIS, and the initiative is working to provide additional engagement opportunities between HHS agencies and the innovation and investment community. Please stay tuned as more opportunities to engage with HHS on the innovation and investment efforts are announced.  Updates will be made public via the DSIIS webpage and the Deputy Secretary’s Twitter handle.

As this collaboration continues and mutual understanding grows, Deputy Secretary Hargan and HHS hope to advance a U.S. healthcare system that provides improved quality and access to care through innovation.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on March 7, 2019