Wellvolution, an Innovative Health and Wellness Program from Blue Shield of California – Marianne Jackson, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Blue Shield of California

At a San Francisco session of  the 2012 human capital leadership forum, senior vice president of HR at Blue Shield of California delivered an address on the subject of Wellvolution, a new health and wellness program being premiered by her firm. Jackson began by saying that until two years ago, she had very little experience in the field of wellness, which she admitted was odd for a healthcare company, but since the industry has been and continues to be in such a state of flux, new and innovative approaches to existing issues are of integral importance moving forward. Since more and more people are constantly being forced to take notice of the inner workings of the healthcare industry, it is more important than ever for companies to be perceptive of and receptive to change. In addition to the changing infrastructure of the industry, there is also the question of the integration of new technological capabilities into the practices of successful corporations. For this reason, Blue Shield of California instituted a widespread approach of innovation and experimentation, despite those traits not being inherent in the DNA of the healthcare industry. “You don’t often want to be the first to market in this business because think about it.  It’s like pharmaceutical.  What it takes to actually get your drug approved; getting your plans and insurance products approved is a long process.  Then you don’t just pull them off the market if it doesn’t go well or you get too much bad risk on that plan, which has happened many times,” said Jackson.

According to Jackson, a big part of getting companies in the healthcare industry to become less risk-averse and more innovative is the successful integration of experimental modes of processing and payment, especially as the public eye draws ever closer and more sharply towards the healthcare sector. An HR response is often required by the sheer amount of money changing hands from transaction to transaction, and Jackson believes that an HR centered approach can meet many of the objectives of a company not just as it pertains to medical costs, but also in engagement and communication. Understanding a company’s structure, as well as its culture and ethos, is key for a company who is trying to provide wellness, through Wellvolution, as a lifestyle. “It became part of our culture.  I used to say that I’d get in the elevator and get the lunch confessions.  It’s kind of embarrassing because if somebody has a McDonald’s bag, you’d kind of watch their arms drop down and slowly move around their back.  Or they have their gym bag, “Look!”  They associate us with that.  We use the word Wellvolution like a verb, like a noun, like an adjective.  It has real meaning.  We got something right.”