CEO of Banner|Aetna has 'incredible success' for new Type 2 diabetes treatment

Tom Grote is the chief executive officer at Phoenix-based Banner|Aetna. 

Mr. Grote will serve on the panel "The Evolution of New Types of Health Plans" at Becker's Payer Issues Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference on Nov. 7-8 in Chicago. 

To learn more and register, click here.

Becker's Healthcare aims to foster peer-to-peer conversation between healthcare's brightest leaders and thinkers. In that vein, responses to our Speaker Series are published straight from interviewees. Here is what our speaker had to say.

Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to set your system up for success?

Tom Grote: The smartest thing I've done is set up a partnership with Virta Health, a diabetes reversal program, for our eligible members with Type 2 diabetes. This first-of-its-kind treatment combines personalized nutrition and virtual care to help members achieve normal blood sugar without medications. So far, our members have had incredible success and we have seen strong program enrollment.

Q: What are you most excited about right now and what makes you nervous?

TG: I'm excited about the launch of our industry-first "frictionless billing" initiative. The program addresses confusion about billing and coverage by combining this information — billing from Banner Health's physicians and hospitals, along with an explanation of benefits in an all-in-one statement to give our members a clear picture of costs and coverage. Consolidating this information makes it easier for members to see what was billed, what they’ve paid, what Banner|Aetna paid, and what they still owe. We also have a trained support team with visibility into the care delivery and the insurance side that can help members with any questions.

I'm nervous about the impact COVID-19 will have on care delivery personnel and assets both short-term and long-term. Health systems are struggling with staffing, retention and maintaining adequate staff, which causes problems we may see compound over time.

Q: How are you thinking about growth and investments for the next year or two?

TG: For Banner|Aetna, an opportunity for growth is the individual insurance exchange marketplace. Given the recent announcement of the enhanced subsidies for consumers buying their own health coverage, we see this expanded market not only stabilizing but offering a large growth opportunity.

Q: What will healthcare executives need to be effective leaders for the next five years?

TG: Open-minded to new ideas as the market continues to evolve. With numerous new entrants and startups, along with the potential of virtual delivery models, it's going to be really important that executives are open-minded to new concepts and approaches as we move forward. This is especially true given some of the challenges on staffing and increased stress on standard delivery models. 

I also think people need perseverance and patience—changing health care takes time and we can't flip it overnight. It can sometimes be frustrating, so I think those two things are critical for health care executives.

Q: How are you building resilient and diverse teams?

TG: It's really about finding team members who understand and truly believe in the organization's mission. It's hard work, so you need that bigger goal to motivate team members to continually push forward when it becomes difficult to overcome day-to-day challenges. 

Having diverse perspectives and skill sets within your leadership team is important. Certain people excel in certain aspects, and you need that in a team to have it work effectively. The diverse ideas and perspectives allow for a more well-rounded strategy so you can get to the best possible answer.

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