EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER
Q&A with Harold Paz
What are the most pressing challenge(s) facing us in healthcare today?
One of the challenges we are facing is the shifting nature of “who” is directly buying healthcare. We think increasing numbers of marketplace participants will be making their own buying decisions in the market, with an increasing amount of choice as the market moves. Payer-based relationships are also changing. Payer-hospital agreements (fee-for-service) are migrating toward a system of community-based collaboration (local health care system faces a value-based payment structure).
In the next 5 to 10 years, how do you see the U.S. managing the health of a population?
Looking at this problem from an insurer’s perspective, we see that our role is evolving from a fee-for-service and business-to-business focus to a consumer-driven focus on value. Our success is dependent on our ability to partner with providers. We think the same dynamic will be present industry-wide. As part of our solution, we developed Healthagen, an Aetna company, to offer a wide range of health information technologies, care management services and population health management solutions designed to improve health care quality, control the overall cost of care and make it easier for patients to engage in their health care. Clinical integration will also be essential. Through our clinical integration services, we help enable care collaboration, eliminate waste and inefficiency and deliver high-quality outcomes. Last, we see the need and are taking steps to enable care management services that manage patient care holistically through a focus on utilization and disease management, drug therapy and personalized health support.
Where do you see the future of healthcare?
We see a health care model of shared accountability. Accountable care provides a path toward financial stability. We believe there is already enough money pumped into the healthcare system. As much as 30% of spending is waste. We believe a hallmark for the future of health care will be improved overall efficiency. Our goal is to help providers create incremental value by becoming more efficient, improving quality and satisfaction (what we call the triple aim). If we are successful, there will be plenty of benefits to share with providers, members and plan sponsors. At Aetna, we are ready to aid providers in shifting as quickly as they are capable of moving to a value-based model.
What role does a group like eHealth Initiative play in supporting companies and executives like yours?
Your mission, to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and technology is very complementary to Healthagen, our e-solutions organization under the Aetna umbrella. It is imperative we work smarter and technology is a big part of the solution to identifying and managing real costs, providing needed connectivity related to patient records and treatment plans, and in general moving toward value-based healthcare. In summary, the work of organizations like eHealth Initiative is critical to the industry’s movement toward a sustainable healthcare system.
It may surprise people to know that… (finish the sentence)
The first hospital in North America was started in 1524 in Mexico City.
Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., is executive vice president and chief medical officer for Aetna. He leads clinical strategy and policy at the intersection of all of Aetna’s domestic and global businesses. He is responsible for driving clinical innovation to improve patient experience, quality and cost in all areas of the health care delivery system.
Before joining Aetna in 2014, Dr. Paz served as chief executive officer of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, senior vice president for Health Affairs for Penn State University, dean of its College of Medicine and professor of medicine and public health sciences for eight years. Prior to his appointment to Penn State, he spent 11 years as dean of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and chief executive officer of Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Group, the largest multispecialty group practice in New Jersey where he was professor of medicine. His vision for health care transformation at Penn State led to the formation of an integrated healthcare system of four hospitals, 64 ambulatory care practices and 18 affiliated hospitals focused on population health across central Pennsylvania.
Dr. Paz has focused his research and teaching on clinical outcomes, health system organization, and health care effectiveness. A pioneer in the field of quality management, Dr. Paz was among the first to study clinical outcomes in the intensive care unit. From this early work, he recognized the need to formally train physicians in quality, and in 1993 he started the first fellowship of its kind in quality management. Currently, he is professor adjunct of internal medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and remains clinically active in pulmonary medicine volunteering at the West Haven Veteran’s Administration Hospital.
A fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians, Dr. Paz is currently on the board of United Surgical Partners International, and the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. Dr. Paz is past chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Academic Health Centers and a former member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the University Health System Consortium board of directors. He previously was chair of the AAMC Council of Deans administrative board and has served on the AAMC executive council in addition to corporate and scientific advisory boards in the biotechnology field. He has authored more than 85 publications, including peer-reviewed research and quality articles, chapters, commentaries and abstracts. He is the recipient of numerous awards and an honorary degree.
Dr. Paz received his bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester, a master of science in life science engineering from Tufts University, and his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He completed his internship and residency at Northwestern University, where he served as chief medical resident and instructor in clinical medicine. He was a Eudowood Fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In addition, he was a post-doctoral fellow in environmental health science at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.