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Q&A with WellPoint's Next CEO, Joe Swedish

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 15, 2013

HLM: What message does your hiring send to the healthcare industry?

JS:
Regardless of the sector, it is all about leadership and the willingness to promote innovative approaches to the transformations that are necessary. The message is pretty loud and clear that we've come upon a new era. And there are organizations that are willing to be bold, and leadership is going to have to transform itself to adapt to this new era, regardless of whether you are a provider or a payer. It truly is a new ball game.

HLM: What are the different challenges posed with running a health system versus running a health insurance company, or are those differences blurring in this new age of integrated care?

JS:
The differences are predictable; the metrics, the language, the expectations especially in an investor-owned area that I have taken responsibility for. That in many respects is a significant challenge.

But at its core we have a lot of leaders in both sectors who are very adept at moving with the marketplace. Even at Trinity we hired many people who were 'not traditional' as we were aggressively pursuing the hiring of actual talent. That certainly is a different approach from what we were accustomed to but it does lead to understanding the metrics of our industry, which I think will look radically different in the coming years than traditionally.

On the payer side there are new talents being recruited that better align with the new demands for new technologies and analytics. At its core it is all about leadership... The strength of the leadership is paramount to addressing transformation change. In that regard I don't think we are any different.

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