NOVO Health hosted its signature event, the NOVO Employer Conference, on October 4, 2018 at Lambeau Field. The venue provided the perfect backdrop for a gathering built around “The Power of Teamwork,” the central theme for this year’s healthcare event.

Formerly known as NOVO’s Workers’ Compensation Conference, the Employer Conference has grown in size and scope since the inaugural event held over a decade ago, but the overriding goal remains a constant: understanding key trends and sharing innovations that challenge the status quo in healthcare.

Specifically tailored to the C-Suite, HR Managers, Work Comp professionals, and company decision-makers, the NOVO Employer Conference invites these individuals to explore designs in healthcare delivery that reduce employer costs while providing a superior patient experience for employees.

“Employers all have the same issues with deductibles, co-insurance, pharmacy benefit management,” said Curt Kubiak, NOVO Health founder and CEO. “We need to solve these problems collectively, by educating and empowering one another.”

Keynote speaker Daniel Ruettiger, better known by his nickname, Rudy, connected to the audience with his own story of empowerment. Mr. Ruettiger’s early life and football career at Notre Dame University were the inspirations for the 1993 film Rudy.

The son of an oil refinery worker and third of fourteen children, Ruettiger chose resilience and strength over discouragement and despair in order to achieve his lifelong dream – to attend Notre Dame University and play football for the Fighting Irish.

Beginning with a clip from the movie, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, Ruettiger emphasized the importance of working together as a team, overcoming obstacles, and accomplishing goals, setting the stage for the remainder of the day’s events, which included panel discussions with experts in the healthcare field and company decision-makers who have adopted alternative healthcare payment models that provide savings for employers and employees.

One such model is NOVO Health’s direct contracting, which provides a platform for independent specialists to deliver medical services to an employer at an agreed upon rate. The core of direct contracting is the price bundling of surgical services offered directly to self-insured employers. With price bundling, all the fees – facility fee, surgeon fee, anesthesia, overnight care in a skilled nursing facility, physical therapy – are combined into a single bill, a fixed price known in advance for an entire episode of care.

“Direct contracting provides transparency and simplicity,” said Kubiak, “as well as the opportunity for employers to direct significant savings back into their business and workforce.”

Panelist Rick Counihan, Director of Compensation & Benefits for Expera Specialty Solutions, responded to a question about the savings that can be generated through the direct contracting relationship.

“In the 19 months since we started with NOVO, Expera has saved over $300,000,” said Counihan.

Dan Ludwig, Director of Safety, Health and Wellness at Brakebush Brothers added, “With bundled payments, we know up front what any out-of-pocket costs will be, so there are no surprises when an employee is done with their procedure.”

In addition to price transparency and the potential for cost savings on a multitude of procedures and services, components of the NOVO Health program include a limited warranty, a care navigation team to ensure a patient-focused experience, and onsite physical therapy services.

Great Lakes Veneer utilizes physical therapy services through NOVO, said Human Resources & Safety Director Tony LaMalfa. “We offer employees a very progressive conservative care program, which includes onsite physical therapy services through NOVO,” said LaMalfa. “Their approach is more than a surgical approach.”

For medical professionals, the efficiency NOVO Health delivers is best reflected in the direct delivery of care between the physician and the patient.

“We love what we do, but much of what happens in modern medicine has been taken out of the hands of those who work on the front lines,” Dr. Todd Van Ye, of The Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery, said. “It’s very frustrating that you would have someone who is not a physician or who has not been in an operating room or in an exam room listening to a patient dictate how we are going to do this.”

With the direct contract model created by NOVO Health, care decisions are made by the physician and patients without having to gain the approval of a third party.

“We are the ones who want to deliver the best possible care to the patients,” Van Ye said. “I don’t see how that kind of care can be delivered when it has to go through several layers of administration from where the providers are.”

Additionally, NOVO Health offers an all-inclusive travel bundle for patients coming from distance.

During one session, NOVO Health VP of Strategic Accounts Tony Engedal identified key drivers for the program’s success at companies utilizing NOVO services.

“Conversations with employers begin with cost,” said Engedal. “We compare your claim experience with our bundled payment model to quantify savings, which leads to next conversation, which is quality. And it’s the quality piece that develops strategic partnerships with our employer groups.”

Also critical for success is education and employee engagement.

“NOVO’s value proposition is cost, quality, and patient experience,” said Engedal. “You need all three. But without the engagement, education, and an employee incentive, the program’s value is not optimized.”

Employer-paid incentives to their employees who opt for surgical services through a NOVO provider range from $250-$2,000.

At the conclusion of the daylong event, Kubiak returned to the event’s theme of teamwork.

“We need to solve the problem together and do things differently if we are to change the trajectory of healthcare delivery and cost,” he said. “What we’re accomplishing right here – delivering accessible and affordable healthcare – can be the model for the entire country.”

The NOVO Heath Conference Planning Team has identified the date for next year’s event: Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Details to follow.