American Heart Association CEO on value-based healthcare

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Nancy Brown

Sep 03, 2018 - reading time 5 mins

By Nancy Brown

CEO, American Heart Association 


Nancy Brown has been the Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2008. During her tenure as CEO, Nancy has led the organization to many significant advances, including, launching the AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, a ground-breaking research enterprise focused on fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine. She convenes the AHA’s CEO Roundtable, comprised of CEOs from the largest and most influential corporations in America driving new workplace health solutions. Advancing new mission-aligned and revenue business enterprises for the Association and evolving the Association’s first-ever integrated global strategy has expanded the organization’s international presence and impact. In addition to her efforts for the AHA, Brown is co-chairman of the Health Governors Community of the World Economic Forum, vice-chairman of the Truth Initiative, and serves as a member of the boards of directors of the World Economic Forum Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Research!America, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Valentin Fuster-Mount Sinai Foundation for Science, Health and Empowerment. She also serves as a member of the Qualcomm Life Advisory Board, the Phillips Advisory Board and Leadership18. She is a past chairman of the board of the National Health Council.

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American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown sits down with the Future Health Index team to discuss making value-based healthcare a reality, potential roadblocks to progress, and how the United States healthcare system needs to change. 

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Home-grown, value-based healthcare, according to American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown

Growing life expectancy, while something to be celebrated, is producing a rising number of people with chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases.  An individual’s ability to access optimal medical therapies to treat these conditions depends on their financial resources. But with healthcare costs skyrocketing and coverages on the decline, the burden on both ends of the healthcare continuum is great. If anyone understands these challenges, it’s Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. We sat down with Nancy to discuss value-based healthcare and how we can accelerate solutions to improve patient access and outcomes.

Value-based healthcare should mean more than just payment for patient outcomes.

Value-based healthcare can mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you?

Value-based healthcare should mean more than just payment for patient outcomes. Helping people get well, reduce risk, and live longer is its own reward in my view. That requires all stakeholders across the healthcare continuum coming together under a shared vision to redefine the system. We must shift our focus to better support the patient public with high-quality, timely, efficient and cost-effective care.

What is driving us toward a value-based healthcare system, and what factors could cause problems?

In the United States, we can create a framework that supports an equitable and affordable system of care. While the cost of healthcare and drug prices are concerning, focusing on the root causes will help us make the biggest impact. For example, partnering with regulators on clinical trial models based on upstream prevention rather than downstream treatment is just one strategy to better support the delivery of high-quality care.


There is also the opportunity to create an evidence-based strategy that inspires investment in solutions that guide change and support a consumer-centric system of value, affordability and innovation. For example, healthcare can leverage technology to improve patient care and compliance.

Involving patients in the solution and making their desires heard, including those who are not currently covered, is paramount.

How are patient attitudes shaping the direction of value-based healthcare?

The American Heart Association represents the voice of patients who tell us they want to be engaged in their care, understand what their doctor recommends, and develop a partnership that goes beyond the examination room.


Technology is vital to forming this partnership. Technology can support patient-doctor interactions, such as recording doctor-patient meetings for future reference or facilitating tele-medicine to provide care from a distance. It frustrates patients when, for example, they can’t see their doctor when they want to or they’re unclear how and when to make a payment. Involving patients in the solution and making their desires heard, including those who are not currently covered, is paramount.

What are the best ways of bringing healthcare providers into the process?

Healthcare providers (HCPs) have a huge impact on delivering value-based healthcare, so reserving their seat at the table with other stakeholders is critical. Collaboration can create unique solutions associated with clinical trial designs and payment models that are more efficient, less costly and that improve patient outcomes.

What technologies could help deliver on the promise of value-based healthcare?

We should leverage technology to collect and synthesize data to improve cost efficiency, performance and, above all, patient care. This will require integrating systems to break down silos, maximize data value, and achieve progress. To unlock the potential of technology, we need to have a broader conversation around data regulation and what it means to have personally identifiable information.


A key challenge is public attitudes around data security. It’s vital for the system to embrace a patient-centered approach to care and provide access to governed health data.

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