Brian Eastwood

Q&A with Brian Eastwood of World Health Care Congress

March 17, 2020
by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor
The 17th annual World Health Care Congress (WHCC20) which was scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. March 29 – April 1 has been postponed. Event coordinators are working on rescheduling for later this year. HealthCare Business News spoke with Brian Eastwood, senior healthcare content strategist for WHCC to learn more about the annual event.

HealthCare Business News: What is the theme for this year’s congress?
Brian Eastwood: Our theme, “17 Years of Empowering and Connecting Leaders in Health Care Transformation,“ is our branding for the year, focusing on our history and what we offer attendees.
HCB News: Speaking a little more about that theme, who are the leaders you connect?
BE: The event brings together representatives from health systems and hospitals, health plans, employer groups, as well as brokers, policy makers and government officials and a broad spectrum of technology providers. The vast majority of our attendance is at the leadership level of vice president and above, the decision-maker level essentially. They’re the ones setting strategic direction around healthcare strategy and carrying that through to work with their teams to execute on that strategy.

HCB News: And for the second part of that tagline, what are some of the conversations surrounding the idea of transformation?
BE: When we look at a transformation, I think the emphasis is on what those systems are doing to bend the cost curve. How are they looking to improve care quality? How are they looking to improve efficiency?

It’s comparing the ways things have traditionally been done at their organizations to what’s being considered for the future as far as healthcare delivery and payments. What are the examples they can share regarding strategies to achieve savings and improve outcomes? There are also conversations about addressing the large challenges which reach beyond what an individual organization might be dealing with.

HCB News: The exhibitor list is small, does that mean the income generation is through attendee fees or do exhibitors pay a large fee to get in front of your audience?
BE: It’s actually an even split. We try to be mindful about who comes in at the exhibitor level. We recognize for both the individual attendees as well as the companies exhibiting that the regular tradeshow format isn’t where they see value. So the emphasis is less about getting everyone in the door and more about making sure the companies coming in have something that is a compelling value-added offering for attendees. Beyond just having them be present, we work with exhibitors to help them meet with the organizations they’re interested in meeting with and engaging with key stakeholders.

HCB News: Since the conference is more about presentations, can you talk a little about what attendees can expect from them?
BE: Our event is actually very light on presentations — slide decks and PowerPoints are rare. Our emphasis is primarily on panel discussions. We bring those leaders we spoke about earlier to discuss their experiences and the lessons learned. They do that in a less formal way than you might experience in a regular presentation. It’s bringing a lot of experience to bear in an accessible way for attendees. In our track sessions, where we have nine or 10 sessions happening at the same time, we’re bringing together speakers from organizations who have done similar work, but in different ways. For example, maybe they’re all focusing on the use of artificial intelligence in identifying patient issues, but they’re targeting different aspects of that challenge, or looking for different information or setting different goals in those regards.

At the keynote or plenary-type sessions, there the goal is to bring together the cross-sector conversation where we engage leaders from different organizations. One example might be where we have conversations addressing social determinants of health. There, the panel might consist of a leader from a health system, a leader from an insurance plan, perhaps a policy maker or maybe a leader from a large employer. We structure those sessions to be an open dialogue and I think that’s been successful in giving attendees key takeaways.

HCB News: Does your D.C. location bring in politicians and government policy makers to visit and interact with attendees or presenting?
BE: We are able to get acting representatives at the policymaker level. This year, we have two U.S. reps on the agenda right now. We encourage that, particularly if they have a healthcare story to tell or healthcare is an advocacy area for them. We also have some state level policy makers involved with various Medicaid divisions as well.

HCB News: What would you say is the key focus of the panels? Would it be payor challenges?
BE: It is a wide spread, but I think the real theme gets back to one of the taglines, the change-maker idea. It’s looking beyond the status quo of care delivery and finding ways to provide better care at lower costs.