By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Healthcare is much-discussed subject in Alabama this year with both how the state will manage the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid crisis that is set for vote in a September referendum.
Meanwhile, Business Council of Alabama hosted its annual healthcare forum this week at the Montgomery Renaissance highlighting a focus on wellness and the importance of a healthy workforce to Alabama’s employers.
President and CEO Bill Canary said, “The purpose of the event, from a broad point of view, is healthcare as it relates to quality of care for all folks of Alabama. But equally important is its effect in the workforce and to attempt to do all we can to marshall resources, knowledge and information along with educational value to help folks better understand both the opportunities that are out there and concepts of wellness which has a dramatic effect in a very positive way in the workforce in this great state.”
Speakers from all over the country educated the audience on topics from chronic disease and their care to promoting employee wellness, providing multiple tools to help employers to encourage a pro-active approach on the part of employees.
Owen Bailey, FACHE, Administrator of Children’s and Women’ Hospital for the University of South Alabama Hospitals and BCA Health Chairman said, “It’s a forum for businesses around the state to come together and learn about the challenges that we are all facing in healthcare: healthcare costs, chronic disease management for employees, prevention, wellness. It is a way for businesses to share best practices and learn about new creative ways to address some very challenging issues.
“It is a foundational issue for a business–the health and wellbeing of its employee base. I think more and more businesses are becoming aware of the value of prevention and wellness. Businesses are learning more and more, besides being the right thing to do for their employees and employee base, it also has a financial impact on the business.”
Of the approximately 170 attendees they included healthcare providers, healthcare businesses, insurance providers, physicians, employers with the keynote speaker being Bill McCollum, former congressman and Florida attorney general.
“What it is trying to do is to bring together the stakeholders in this process, as you see here we have the providers along with the folks that are actually in the healthcare business. But from our perspective, being the Business Council with our membership representing over 750,000 working Alabamians is to continue to give a forum so that individuals can learn about emerging trends, opportunities that might be out there, collaterally discussing what they are doing,” said Canary.
Simultaneously, the Chambers of Commerce Association of Alabama were hosting their summer conference and, in a collaborative effort, were able to attend portions of the forum.
“One of the more important areas is the wellness concept because wellness is a positive ability to accomplish a end goal for each and every individual,” said Canary.
Bailey concluded saying, “I like it because there is so much of a focus on wellness and prevention and I think that is certainly an issue that our country needs to embrace more aggressively. That is a very key message that we are hearing is how to prevent as much as we can and to promote a culture of wellness.”
A diversity of lectures included:
Managing Employees with Depression
Katie Herndon Pharm.D., BCPS, Medical Outcomes Specialist, Pfizer, Inc.
Managing Employees with Osteoarthritis
Roland Hest, M.D., Southern Orthopedic Surgeons
Medication Adherence: How to get Employees to Follow Health Care Provider Directions
Deborah Epps, Pharm.D., Regional Medical Liaison, sanofi
The Value of Patient Engagement and Motivational Interviewing
Ray Sieradzan Pharm.D., Area Medical Manager, sanofi
Leveraging Existing Health Plan Resource to Encourage Healthy Lifestyles
Dow Briggs, M.D., senior vice president, Business Operations, medical director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
Kent Adkisson, regional vice president, Products and Innovations, UnitedHealthcare