About Richard Lungen, Membership Chair, HCEG and Managing Member, Leverage Health
Richard founded Leverage Health following 16 years of leadership experience within the managed care, life and health insurance, and overall healthcare service industries, as a means to deliver best-practice solutions from leading service companies to healthcare payers. Since founding Leverage Health, the firm has experienced year after year growth in sales, referencable clients and Portfolio Companies, and has developed an expanded team of healthcare professionals.

About HealthCare Executive Group
The HealthCare Executive Group is a national network of select healthcare executives and thought leaders, who navigate the tactical and strategic issues facing organizations today and provide a platform that promotes healthcare innovation and the development of life-long relationships. Originally the Managed Care Executive Group (MCEG), The HealthCare Executive Group (HCEG), was founded in 1988 by healthcare executives looking for a forum where the open exchange of ideas, opportunities for collaboration, and transformational dialogue could freely ensue.

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT): Describe your professional history and involvement in medical travel.

Richard Lungen (RL): Currently, I serve as a Board Member of the newly launched HealthCare Executive Group (HCEG).

By way of background, I am the founder and executive of Leverage Health – a business development firm supporting emerging vendors that provide services to the payer, provider and employer marketplace.

Roughly six years ago, I became actively involved in the medical travel space, which was imminent due to my background in the PPO market where individuals are constantly searching for high-quality care at an affordable rate.

Around this time, the Centers of Excellence (COEs) industry seemed to have solved one set of problems, but I was on a separate mission to uncover whether or not individuals would travel for a multitude of procedures, both domestically and abroad.

USDMT: Where is the future of medical travel headed – domestic or abroad?

RL: The international market is real, but the domestic space is undoubtedly set up for success.

At this point, the domestic market is much more convenient – there’s no language barrier, currency exchange, or confusion with follow-up care. Simply put, it is just more comfortable.

Again, there are detailed statistics indicating that patients are willing to travel internationally for knee, hip and shoulder replacements.

It is important to recognize that international patients specifically travel to the U.S. for care, as well.

USDMT: Are international patients discouraged from seeking treatment in the U.S. due to the high cost of care?

RL: Not necessarily. If you visit the Mayo Clinic, you will notice there are clocks from around the world in their lobby – and for good reason!

Regardless of the price of U.S. healthcare, we are a premier destination for treatment and will continue to be recognized as one for years to come.

USDMT: Does the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) drive interest in this space?

RL: Absolutely. For example, look at the exchange offerings – there is a significant demand for high-quality care at the right price.  With the right benefit plan, consumers will have an increased incentive to travel.

Of course, as government benefits for the “65 and under” market begin to parallel the “65 and older” market, there will be added incentives for higher quality care – similar to the Star Program in Medicare.
On the employer side, the concept of medical travel has been attractive for many years as a solution to retain employees and control costs.

Now, with a more rigid focus on care, quality and price – the employer market is a faster adopter of medical travel because it helps reduce their personal healthcare spend.

The ACA and exchange trends are yet just another accelerator of the medical travel industry.

USDMT: Tell our readers why Managed Care Executive Group (MCEG) re-launched into the Healthcare Executive Group?

RL: At this point, the healthcare industry is very dynamic, and with the evolving roles of organizations within the industry, it prompted HCEG to broaden its membership base. We welcomed new executives from across the spectrum to help provide a more comprehensive view and approach to industry-wide innovation and transformation.

By simply moving the company from managed care to healthcare, we can invite other stakeholders to our organization as members, not just attendees, including providers and payers.

USDMT: Has the re-launch generated any pushback?

RL: We have received all positive feedback and are very excited about the future of HCEG.

As previously mentioned, our Board is now comprised of new members who each bring a fresh perspective to HCEG. Additionally, our annual event is approaching quickly, and will encompass different types of participants from providers, retailers and other stakeholders who previously did not attend.

As we speak, we have launched our education initiatives — which include webinars, virtual panels and white papers – all centered on our proprietary HCEG Top 10. With our membership participation, HCEG has created a Top 10 Trends list to guide the strategic direction of the business. We are also developing the agenda for our 2015 HCEG Annual Forum. The theme, “Healthcare Revolution Required – Inquire Within,” promises to be relevant and timely for all stakeholders in the industry.

USDMT: What specific challenges are organizations facing today?

RL: Today, the challenges are relatively consistent among payers, providers and industry stakeholders.
For example, HCEG members are currently faced with how to:

  • Place the right products, at the right price, on the market
  • Implement administrative and operational functionality to support employers and members as the market becomes geared toward consumers
  • Ensure access to the appropriate tools and technologies to satisfy providers with respect to contracting value-based healthcare

USDMT: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

RL: HealthCare Executive Group is a lot more than an association – it is a community of thought leaders that discuss important matters, including medical travel, to help make a difference.

HCEG is actively monitoring how our payers, providers and stakeholders can work toward positioning consumers at the forefront of high-quality, cost-effective care.

Reprinted from: US Medical Domestic Travel