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Tag: Culture

02 Mar 2021
Conversation Circles

BCS Conversation Circles Promote DE&I

During Black History Month, BCS offered several opportunities to celebrate the rich history of Black Americans, as well as discuss the topic of Diversity and Inclusion within the BCS community.

One such opportunity occurred last week with “Conversation Circles”. A conversation circle is an hour-long opportunity to listen and share personal reflection with six to ten BCS colleagues. The goal is to create a thoughtful space without judgment for people to share. Two circles were available:  1.) Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr.’s I “I Have a Dream Speech” and, 2.) the inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, our nation’s first youth poet laureate.    

After reviewing the content, employees were asked to think about the following prompts for discussion: 

  • What are some of the thoughts and feelings that you think the author was experiencing?
  • What does this speech mean to you as an individual?
  • What do you think this speech means to our BCS community?

These Conversation Circles served as a conversation starter as we continue to expand our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

10 Feb 2021

BCS Employees Give More than $6,000 to Charity

At BCS, we are committed to enhancing the quality of life in the communities in which we live. We believe we have a social responsibility to help others during difficult times.

To that end, BCS recently gifted each employee a gift card to be donated to the charity of their choice. This effort, mobilized through the #BCSCares initiative, delivered more than $6,000 to a variety of non-profit organizations.

25 Jan 2021
Janae Sorenson - VP Product Strategy & General Manager Ancillary Markets

Meet the Team – Product Strategy

Vice President, Product Strategy & General Manager Ancillary Markets, Janae Sorenson joined BCS a few months back, amid a pandemic and the years-long strategy to roll out new ancillary/voluntary benefit products. Janae, who lives in Portland, Oregon, is a remote BCS employee, regardless of our current COVID environment. Here, she shares her first impressions of BCS, her typical day as a remote employee in a different time zone, and the projects she’s focused on to lead our ancillary/voluntary lines of business.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you at BCS?

A: I am on Pacific Standard Time so I have to take into account the two-hour time difference.  Some days I may have a 6:30 am call so don’t expect to see me “camera ready” on those days! I set my West Coast calls for later in the day so most of you have gone home and I have a few hours to focus on business development for the West Coast. My role is a blend of product development, strategy and sales.  My main focus is growing our ancillary/voluntary lines of business.

Q: Tell us about a project you are working on.

A: I am working on the Ancillary Sales Strategy for 2021. We work through different distribution channels, and each of these channels has unique characteristics so we are trying to modify our plans to make sure we are differentiated and efficient in each channel.  Unlike national carriers that have a large sales force all over the country, we are getting creative about how we market, sell and enroll voluntary products.

Q: What about a project you’ve got on the horizon?

A: We are developing some co-branded product opportunities for ancillary/voluntary products, and marketing our suite of products to current customers and broker partners.

Q: What was your first impression of BCS? 

 A: Because my interview and hiring process were done during COVID, I have only gotten to know people virtually.  I have been surprised at how welcomed I have felt even though I haven’t met people in person yet.  Everyone has been so helpful, thoughtful, collaborative and creative.  The talent is so strong. I am continually amazed at everything we are involved in – especially given the number of employees we have. The “can do” attitude has been inspiring.

 Q: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? 

A: My resolution is to be better at fitting in my workouts on days that I start my meetings before my “normal” work hours.  I just can’t seem to wake up, exercise and shower in time for 6:30 meetings! Walking at lunch would be ideal but the winters in Portland are so rainy so I am exploring online workouts and trying to use my elliptical machine for actually working out vs as a clothes rack.

14 Dec 2020
Dean Korolis - Vice President - Financial Planning and Analysis

Meet the Team – Finance

As we close out 2020, BCS checks in with Vice President, Financial Planning and Analysis, Dean Korolis, as he reflects back on the past year and the work his team has done in response to the pandemic.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.

A: My team is responsible for the financial planning and analysis function of the organization. The team’s goal is to be communicative; both in terms explaining the financials to our operational and management teams as well as listening for changes that could affect our profitability. We interact with teams across the company to assess the progress and effectiveness of the company’s strategic plans and investments. We strive to be a resource to support decision-making.

Our work product ranges throughout the year given the circumstances impacting the company. During the first half the year, the team completed models to calculate the impact of COVID on our business and supported our acquisition of Medical Risk Managers. During the last half of this year, we shifted our focus to forecasting and long-term capital planning. The team is also working diligently to develop more analytics using business intelligence solutions.

Q:What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?

A: At the onset of the pandemic, we as a company quickly rolled out communication updates to our customer base, reevaluated business lines and expense structures, monitored statutory requirements all the while adapting to a work-from-home environment.  With a chance to now look back, with a prospectively brighter 2021 ahead, I am proud of how the company rallied and responded to change brought on by COVID. Through it all, our company leadership and Culture Team ensured we remained positive, connected, and had fun.  The pandemic really put into focus how many truly amazing people we have in our organization. 

Q: How long have you been with the company? What’s kept you at BCS?

A: I have been with BCS for almost five years and each year brings a new set of challenges. During my time with BCS, we have engaged in major initiatives to improve our data processing and analytics platforms, launched a handful of new products to the market, assessed new reinsurance structures and expanded our distribution capabilities either through investments or acquisitions. The ability to touch all areas of the company and not just be a specialist in a certain role has kept me motivated and engaged. Further, the family atmosphere and the ability to work with great people each day keeps me at BCS.

Q: Describe your department in three words.

A: Analytical, communicative, and responsive.

Q: Do you have any special holiday traditions in your family?

A: The holidays are all about family and we are fortunate to have all our immediate family close – like really close — 10 minutes or so away. We head to church on Christmas Eve followed by dinner. Elf usually finds its way on to the TV and all kids unwrap the Saran Wrap Ball that is packed with odd gifts.

30 Nov 2020
Melody Bautista, Director Clinical Data Analytics

Meet the Team – Case Management

From new product launches to partnerships with 2nd.MD and the National Hemophilia Foundation, there’s a lot going on in our Large Claim Solutions vertical. Director of Clinical Data Analytics, Melody Bautista, shares what she’s been working on, and is the perfect example that no two days are the same here at BCS!

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS. 

A: I am the Director of Clinical Data Analytics and work mostly on BCS’s large claim solutions products and services.  My role/responsibility includes data analytics, clinical claims review, risk/cost management, and R&D. We are using an integrated data approach to bring together relevant clinical and claims data in a form that supports a variety of tools and analytics that we can leverage to improve outcomes, quality, and cost for our Blue Plan partners and payers. We identify high cost claimants (HiCCs) using predictive analytics tools and trigger reporting (diagnosis, specialty drugs, Gene Therapy/CAR-T) to identify members that are most likely to incur at least $250,000 in claims spend, then perform clinical claims review and identify BCS Risk Navigator solutions for our customers to contain costs and help their members achieve quality outcomes.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you at BCS?

A: Every day brings plenty of variety.  In a single work day I can work on press release and webinar content with marketing, on development of our HiCC database with Data and IT, conduct clinical claims review from trigger reporting, have meetings with our Blue Plan partners, review a specialty vendor Master Service Agreements with legal, work with account management and sales on an XOL Operations deliverables, assist coordination of SFTP set up with the Data and IT teams, work with our business analyst on clinical data analysis, research Specialty Pharmacies for a limited distribution drug, work on diversity and inclusion initiatives with our Culture Team, and work on process improvement activities with my Six Sigma team. Unlike Phil from Groundhog Day, I can honestly say that I have never had the same day twice and every day is an unknown adventure waiting to unfold.

Q: What trends are you watching in the healthcare industry right now?

A: There are many healthcare trends to watch right now from COVID-19 impact, to changes in healthcare delivery systems, and factors contributing to rising healthcare costs and premiums, but my main focus is always on HiCCs.  That includes paying attention to trends in million-dollar claims, emerging high cost therapies (Gene Therapies, CAR-T, immunotherapy cancer treatments) and specialty drugs, Stop Loss data trends, payment financing models (VBAs/OBAs), and more.  We use the knowledge of these healthcare trends and combine that with our claims/clinical data analytics information to develop highly relevant HiCC solutions to help our customers mitigate risks and improve outcomes.

For example, our actuary department provides us with an annual reports of the highest cost claims conditions and we combine that information with national healthcare information and our data analytics tools, predictive analytics outputs, and clinical claims review reports to identify what conditions we need to target for specialized solutions.  Out of that comprehensive data collection process and analysis, we determined we needed to find the best solutions to address members with oncology conditions like lymphoma and leukemia that persistently sits at the top of the highest cost conditions categories for the healthcare system nationally. That is why we partnered with 2nd.MD to provide top-tier medical navigation, expert consultation, and personalized second opinion services.  With this partnership, BCS can help members get the appropriate care they need, connecting them with board-certified, elite specialists from top medical institutions, and reducing their costs along the way.  In many cases, the second opinion can change the treatment trajectory – 85% of 2nd.MD’s consultations result in improved treatment plans, 35% lead to alternative diagnoses, and nearly 30% of surgery consults result in surgery cancellation.

Using this data, we developed two other customized solutions to support the approximately 20,000 individuals with hemophilia.  With the average annual cost for a patient with hemophilia topping $350,000 – $500,000 a year, we made it our priority to bring to market a solution set for health plans and their members to improve the quality and cost of care for members with hemophilia.  We partnered with the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF), a trusted advocacy organization aligned with our focus on assisting with quality and cost of care. In addition, we also partnered with Audaire Health to provide hemophilia treatment management that improves patient adherence for high-cost therapies through real time tracking and pharmacy notifications.

We are looking to expand our customized specialty solutions to target more conditions, including Hereditary Angioedema/Defects in the Complement System, Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.  There is great interest and excitement for these customized solutions and we are currently working with our partners on implementation.  We are also excited to have recently joined our partners at the NHF, who are working on a collaborative with a mission to connect payers and patient advocacy groups to improve access to high quality care and address issues surrounding high-cost claimants through open dialog and shared solutions. I must say, I am truly proud to work for a company that strives to mitigate risks with cost containment solutions and improves quality of care outcomes for members.

Q: What are the most important skills you bring to your role?

A: The most important skills for this role are; flexibility/agility, a collaborative spirit, a strong interest in R&D/innovation, analysis, problem solving, and a having very curious mind.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love solving puzzles and my keen interest in analysis is a great fit for this position because I enjoy recognizing patterns, looking for outliers or anomalies that help identify opportunities, and using data analytics to help guide better business decision making.  It also helps to be resilient and to view setbacks not as “failures” but as challenges or an opportunity for improvement.

Q: You have quite the commute. Pre-pandemic, what are your favorite ways to pass the travel time?

A: I have always had a long commute even when I used to live in the suburbs and took the train to the city but with this reverse commute, I actually use my commute time for prayer. Oddly enough, it is a good way to stay nice and calm during my long commute from the city. It’s tough to get upset with bad drivers when I’m thinking about the people in my life that I am grateful for.

26 Oct 2020
Susan Lindquist - Chief Human Resources Officer

Meet the Team – Human Resources

There’s perhaps no one better to offer insight into what it takes to succeed at BCS than Chief Human Resource Officer Susan Lindquist. This month, read on for insights from Susan – plus more about her role, her go-to resources for professional development, and the number one thing she’s sharing with employees about benefits enrollment.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.

A: Our team’s role is to ensure we have the right talent available to meet our strategic goals.  To that end, we need to create a compelling employee experience that includes highly competitive rewards, opportunities to learn and grow, a vibrant workplace and strong personal connections within our BCS community.  We have almost 40% of our company engaged in culture-building activities including wellness, recognition, diversity and inclusion, community involvement and event planning.

Q: What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?

A: I enjoy the diverse responsibilities of my job.  I can be working on a strategic project in the morning, interviewing a potential new team member at lunch, and then finish my day by approving payroll.  I love that our small company size allows me to know all of our team members!  I least enjoy proofing Summary Plan Documents and Certificates of Insurance for our benefit plans.

Q: What skills does someone need to succeed at BCS?

A: In the last several months, we updated our company Beliefs to reflect both our values and our aspirations.  It’s very important that our current team members continue to embrace these beliefs and we hire new associates who commit to them:  diversity, transparency, simplicity, agility, integrity, and unity.  We can teach most skills!

Q: As we approach annual benefits enrollment, what is the number one thing you’d like to share with employees?

A: Make sure you use our wellness benefits!  Last year, we initiated a Lifestyle Spending Account which reimburses employees for up to $500 annually for expenses related to their wellbeing like gym membership, athletic equipment, financial planning and so much more.  Our Wellness Team also has created some great programs like virtual Cooking Conversations, 1:1 nutrition coaching and meditation.

Q: You are a big advocate for professional development. What are your go-to resources?

A: I am very proud that BCS prioritizes learning with such strategic importance that it is included in our Performance Scorecard.   I love the thought leadership that I find at Gartner and Center for Creative Leadership, and the quick wins I get from Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip of the Day and Daily Alert.  I also enjoy a good read and enjoyed sharing Mindset by Carol Dweck with a small book club last year at BCS.

28 Sep 2020
Christopher Halsey

Meet the Team – Service and Operations

This month, Chris Halsey, director, Service Partner Management (and resident “Top Gun” enthusiast), shares some of the projects he’s been working on, and how he’s adapted to virtual vendor and relationship management.

Q: Tell us about a project you are working on.   

A: I continue to work on refining our new administrative platform, and configuring it to support our EssentialCare products.  This includes creating and adding customer communication pieces, customizing the portal technology, and automating the information feeds to downstream systems.

I have really enjoyed working on this project as it allows me to work with many different areas and individuals in BCS.  It was a great honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of implementing this platform during my first year and a half at BCS.

Q: What is the number one skill someone in your role needs to succeed?

A: Negotiation skills.  I consider myself more of a “generalist” and need the support and knowledge of the experts in the different areas of BCS to help me.  Negotiation skills are critical when trying to convince someone to put aside their day job and help me with my project or initiative.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Working with just about all areas in the company and multiple individuals.

Q: You work with vendors all over the country. What tips do you have for managing virtual partnerships?

A: Develop a sense of humor, of which I am still working on.  I always feel laughter is a good way to build partnerships, in the right moment. The key is knowing when it is the appropriate time.

Q: What’s your favorite way to relax? 

A: Ever since I started using my Fitbit, I enjoy walking and biking to see how many steps and miles I can accumulate in a day.  When not competing in my imaginary Olympics, I enjoy watching movies and several different streaming series.  And in case you did not know it, I’m a closet Top Gun fan!   Well, maybe an open-door closet that has an F14 flying out of it.

23 Sep 2020
Culture Badge from Enerage

BCS Earns 2020 Culture Badge from Energage

There has been much written about an organization’s culture – and what exactly that entails. Most thought leaders agree that a simple definition is “the way we get work done around here.” But of course, there’s more to a company’s culture than just how we do things.

At BCS, we understand that strategies, products, and services can be copied, but our culture is unique to us. At the core of our culture is letting employee voices be heard, and that’s why we regularly survey our team members and benchmark results against our industry’s Best in Class.

Based on our 2020 survey feedback – in which 90% of employees responded – BCS was awarded the “Clued In Employees” badge from Energage.

This badge means that BCS ranked in the top 25% of organizations when it comes to employees feeling “clued in” about what’s going on in the company. We are proud to be recognized with this distinction, especially now, while many of still work and receive company information virtually.

Corporate culture is an important aspect of life at BCS, and we thank all of our teammates who engage and work each and every day to be part of our culture.

17 Aug 2020
Meet the team - Nadia Nelson - Director Business Development

Meet the Team – Business Development

This month, we learn about Director of Business Development Nadia Nelson. A month into her new role, Nadia shares what brought her to BCS and how her past experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield will help move her – and BCS – forward.

Q: What do you like most about your job? 

A: I am only a month in but so far, I really like that I’ve able to work with so many different clients and partners. I’m a very social person, so, being able to interact with so many new people has been very exciting.

Q: What brought you to BCS? / Why BCS?

A: It was a great opportunity that presented itself to really grow in my career and expand my relationships within the Blues family. One of my good friends from my previous company joined the BCS team a few years ago and that helped with the move. To know that I would already have a friend at BCS, especially when starting during a global pandemic, made the transition a lot easier.

Q: Describe your department in three words.

A: Driven, supportive, hard-working.

Q: What have you been up to during the recent quarantine?

A: My husband and I recently bought a house and moved to the suburbs from the city. Once quarantine hit, I quickly went to work to get our back deck and yard up to par to enjoy some alfresco living.

20 Jul 2020
Sasha Jimenez - Senior Communications Specialist

Meet the Team – Marketing & Communications

Internal communications are an important aspect of any company, but they are especially critical in the face of a pandemic. Sasha Jimenez, senior communication specialist, gives us a peek into some of the work she has done during the COVID-19 crisis to support BCS with communications, culture, and community service.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: Each day is so unique, which is one of the things I enjoy most about my job. My primary responsibilities fall under corporate communications however, we are a small but mighty team so there are many times I get involved in other projects as well. I’m also on our Culture Team and lead the Community Service Team which adds in even more variety to my days.

Q: Tell us about a project you are working on.

A: With everyone working from home for the past couple of months we had to come up with ways to keep everyone engaged virtually. It was interesting to figure out how to keep everyone connected and keep the culture alive without actually physically being in the office.

An important aspect of our culture is helping others in our community. We organize community service activities quarterly and wanted to keep that going during a time like this. We were able to organize donations to causes like the Oakbrook Area Coronavirus Relief Fund, Dupage Meals on Wheels, Dupage Pads, and provide hospital meal trains. To get employees involved, and to support small businesses, all employees received gift cards to use at their favorite local restaurants for carry-out. In addition, we wanted to find a way to stay connected, so we began a weekly View From My Desk series where employees submitted photos, tips, and updates for that week.

Q: How long have you been with the company? What’s kept you at BCS?

A: I’ve been with BCS for six years and a huge part of what has kept me here is the people. Being surrounded by knowledgeable and dependable people that can also make you laugh throughout the day has been the greatest thing! I am able to interact with everyone across all levels and departments in the company which gives me the opportunity to learn so many new things. That leads me to the second reason I stay at BCS – they encourage development and are always open to new innovative ideas. If you want to get involved on a team and have a way to improve a process or innovate a product to stand out in the market, they are open ears.

Q: If you could swap jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

A: Ben E. Fits … our department puppet and mascot. He’s the real brains behind it all. I’ll just leave it at that.

Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?

A: I was born in Germany and visit there often. I have also been to Paris, Budapest, Prague, and Jamaica, just to name a few of the beautiful places I have been. However, I think at the end of the day my favorite place in the world is just at home, sitting in the backyard with my husband and watching our daughter run around and play!