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Takeaways from day 1 of Collective Create

We're sharing highlights from day 1 of Collective Create, Collective Health's conference for bold HR and benefits leaders.


Collective Create, the conference for bold HR and benefits leaders, kicked off today in San Francisco. Over 300 of the brightest minds in employee benefits converged on Terra Gallery for the first of two days of networking, collaboration, learning, and more. Some of the notable moments of day one: the opening keynote with our co-founders Ali Diab and Rajaie Batniji, a fireside chat with Laszlo Bock and Jeff Immelt, our pre-conference product workshops, and, of course, our welcome reception with food trucks, drinks, and plenty of networking.

Even if you couldn’t make it today, we took notes to fill you in on some of the highlights.

  1. Change in healthcare is driven by those who push the limits—and we can’t stop pushing.In their opening keynote, our cofounders Ali Diab and Rajaie Batniji shared their experiences in healthcare and how it led to the founding of Collective Health. “Great doctors alone can’t fix the healthcare system,” Rajaie said. Rather, it takes all of us to change the system—employers, partners, providers, and more. And while we’ve made progress over the years, continuing to transform healthcare requires constantly pushing for change. But that isn’t easy. “It’s easy to think the system is bad and there’s nothing you can do to change it,” our keynote speaker Jeff Immelt, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, added, “but you must.”At the end of the day, it’s about what our people deserve. We’re doing it because our people deserve better. That’s why at Collective Health, customer experience will remain our north star.
  2. HR is changing.One of the big topics of the day was the ongoing evolution of HR. Much like manufacturing in the early 20th century or marketing in the 1970s and 80s, it’s going through a data-driven revolution. For savvy HR and benefits leaders, it’s a huge opportunity to make more strategic decisions to deliver both a better experience for employees and save on costs. And, as Jeff added, we’re just in the early days of where that could go. At Collective Health, we’re collecting and analyzing health claims data in ways that haven’t been possible before in health benefits. That’s helping us to work with employers on evidence-based health plans suited to their populations—taking the guesswork out of benefits and ensuring that your employees are getting the care and benefits they need.One thing that isn’t changing, though, is the ultimate focus of an HR pro: their people. Keynote speaker Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu and former SVP of People Operations at Google, pointed out that it always has been and always will be important to have a philosophy behind what you’re doing and why it’s important. With your focus on that, you can flex and tweak your benefits based on what’s important to you and your people.
  3. The C-suite needs to be involved in benefits discussions.
    In order to effect real change, HR and benefits leaders have to get their C-suite on board—often a daunting task. But, according to Laszlo, if you come to the table with a clear case for change, you can make it happen. During his time at Google, he did that by aligning his team’s goals with the larger business, running small experiments to build credibility, and building trust with decision makers by “predicting doom”—explaining the serious impact different decisions can have if your company decides to go down a specific path.Jeff echoed that sentiment, offering his advice for what that pitch looks like. Don’t make it single note, he suggested, adding that while discussions of cost are important, they need to be part of a larger story. Come with an integrated idea, bring a complete change package, and offer a test pattern so the people in the room can understand the levers you’re pulling.
  4. The business side of healthcare has been underserved because people think it can’t be changed—but it can.There have been incredible innovations on the clinical side of healthcare, but the business side hasn’t kept up. A hip replacement, Jeff offered as an example, used to require a four-day hospitalization and months of recovery. Today, people are out of the hospital in a day or two, and they’re back up on their feet in weeks. But the cost has skyrocketed beyond inflation.Laszlo added that people haven’t done anything about the business side of healthcare because they feel like it’s an unsolvable problem. But change can happen—both Laszlo and Jeff were able to do so at their respective companies. So where do HR and benefits leaders start making that change? First, Laszlo said, is making sure CEOs and non-HR leaders understand healthcare expense and that it is, in fact, controllable. Next is instrumentation—making it clear that, in order to control cost, HR teams need the right tools to know what’s going on and the ability to institute changes.Ultimately, Laszlo and Jeff said, healthcare needs both the right technical tools and innovative people to change, and it’s important to get that right. Employers coming together to demand that change is what can give us the ability to make things better.

Stay tuned for more highlights tomorrow from Jonathan Van Ness, Sally Welborn, Elisabeth Rosenthal, and more!

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