Trinity Health CEO Joseph R. Swedish this week was named the new CEO of WellPoint Inc., effective March 25. Though Swedish is well known and highly regarded in the hospital sector, a number of health insurance industry analysts reacted with surprise upon hearing the news. Many acknowledged they'd never heard of the executive from Livonia, MI, who will soon lead the nation's second-largest health insurance company.
Swedish spoke with HealthLeaders Media this week about the challenges of the new job. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.
HLM: Why did WellPoint pick a hospital executive instead of someone with a more extensive health insurance background?
JS: My sense is that the board, looking at the landscape of the entire industry, came to the conclusion that we are all—and by all I mean providers and payers—exposed to a transformational era that necessitates different kinds of strategic choices, different dialogs occurring in the industry.
The contractual relationships are going to point right at more risk-taking on the part of providers or more engagement by the payers in terms of supporting these new models. The expectation of what I can bring is a different dialog based on my knowledge in the provider sector. Hopefully I can promote the kind of transformation that is necessary to better align those two interests.