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The Exec: How CIO Lisa Davis Executes Cloud Strategy at Blue Shield of CA

Analysis  |  By Laura Beerman  
   June 19, 2024

Davis details how cloud-based partnerships with Microsoft and Salesforce are activating real-time data to promote healthcare innovation and improve the member and provider experience.

“The cloud can bring the healthcare sector into the digital age.”

This from Lisa Davis, EVP and CIO of Blue Shield of California and a champion of the real-time data capabilities that the cloud can bring to the industry.

Davis’s professional background gives her a unique perspective on healthcare information technology. She was previously CIO for the DOJ’s U.S. Marshals Service and of Counterintelligence Field Activity for the U.S. Department of Defense. She has also had major heart surgery, giving her first-hand understanding of the patient care experience. 

HealthLeaders: Why is the cloud so important for healthcare?

Lisa Davis, Blue Shield of California EVP and CIO:

“Think about banking. The financial sector moved to the cloud so I can effortlessly transfer money online. The same experience exists with retail; when I go into a store or shop online, there are real-time transactions.”

“The sector where we haven’t provided real-time access is healthcare: transforming experiences for our members requires data interoperability, data access, and sharing that data amongst the payer, our providers, and members. The cloud makes this possible and also provides scalability, agility, flexibility and connection among systems.”

HealthLeaders: What specific impacts has moving to the cloud made at Blue Shield?

Davis: “Moving infrastructure to the cloud is really at the heart of our strategy because having more data available in near real time ultimately allows us to create better member experiences.”

“To transform healthcare, we asked ourselves ‘How do we create a system that is more personalized and more holistic?’ We can now create high-tech and high-touch experiences for members, such as with Care Connect.”

“Salesforce is the platform we used to build Care Connect — our new care management system that empowers clinical teams with real-time access to data so that we can coordinate personalized services and care faster.”

In July 2023, Blue Shield partnered with Microsoft to build out Experience Cube, an integrated data hub that runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The health plan deployed Experience Cube as part of a multi-year cloud development plan that included launching the Care Connect platform with Salesforce in September 2023.

In February 2024, Blue Shield teams enabled Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) and pharmacy data to begin flowing from Experience Cube to Care Connect. A Blue Shield of California representative notes that, in under four weeks, the plan’s care managers used Care Connect to address 1,716 care gaps — including but not limited to:

  • 657 completed pain assessments
  • 373 medication reviews
  • 96 depression screenings 

Care Connect received a 2023 Eye on Innovation Award from Gartner and a 2024 second-place Innovator Award from Healthcare Innovation.

In the continued Q&A below, Blue Shield’s Davis describes her health plan’s pre- and post-cloud environment.

Davis: “Previously, data resided in 13 different on-premise systems, all with different capabilities. Now that our care management data is in the cloud, our clinical teams can address care gaps seamlessly. By communicating with our provider networks in real-time, we can schedule appointments and connect members to critical care and services that ultimately improve their health. That ease of experience would have never happened before Care Connect.”

HealthLeaders: How does Blue Shield decide which tech companies to partner with — including Salesforce and Microsoft specifically?

Davis: “What's really important is a hybrid, balanced approach. We partner with Big Tech companies and with startups that are bringing innovations to the table, helping us transform the healthcare system.”

”We collaborate with some of the Big Tech companies because a lot of them, such as Salesforce and Microsoft, are now focusing on developing innovative healthcare capabilities — and they can help us scale solutions for our members.”

“It’s really important that a partner is aligned to our values, to our guiding principles, and to our mission to create a healthcare system that is worthy of our family and friends. Then, we start talking about technology solutions and capabilities and creating experiences that are personal, holistic, and high-tech and high-touch.”

“As a CIO, I want partners that understand what we're trying to do — to help us accelerate goals and fulfill our mission. Then we get something really special, because we're working on the problem set together. If they see the opportunities where they can transform and improve healthcare — and that becomes part of their mission and core principles — then magic happens as we work together.”

“Salesforce and Microsoft understand how we're trying to transform the healthcare system, and we bring our capabilities together to help accelerate our strategies.”

HealthLeaders: What else is important about your Care Connect partnership with Salesforce?

Davis: “When you partner with these Big Tech companies as a nonprofit, you might naturally ask yourself, ‘Why did they choose to partner with us when others might bring more capital to the equation?’ The Salesforce team will tell you, ‘Because Blue Shield is committed to transforming the system, and when we show up and say we're going to do something, we execute.’ Salesforce is an incredible partner because of their commitment to improving healthcare.

“We were a definitional partner, helping to define Salesforce’s care management product. That's a huge role that we played as a nonprofit, and it really calls out not only our innovation, but also our technical subject matter expertise as well as our ability to engage and stay committed to develop with a tech partner a transformative capability in Care Connect. We also used Agile methodologies to deliver the core Care Connect platform in just nine months — this required incredible hard work to deliver a transformative capability for our members so quickly.”

HealthLeaders: What does it mean to be a definitional partner?

Davis: “We want to be thinking 5-10 years ahead. The worst thing you can do when you're innovating and using technology is to do it like you were doing it before. I don't want to do it that way, so when we knew we needed to innovate and modernize our clinical care management system, we discussed that with Salesforce.”

“There's a better way of doing business, there's a better way of connecting the systems and the data to provide greater access to care. It required both of us to think differently about how healthcare processes are done today in order to create that transformative experience for our members. That’s what’s special about the transformation and the innovation we’re doing together.”

HealthLeaders: What has surprised you most about working with Big Tech overall?

Davis: “I've been most surprised about their willingness to learn and engage. I think they recognize that healthcare is one of the most complicated ecosystems, so their openness to listen and learn from subject matter experts and the health plan to ultimately improve their capabilities.”

“That has been really refreshing to see because it's going to take a village to transform the healthcare ecosystem.”

Laura Beerman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.


Cloud computing has been around for 20 years, but healthcare has lagged in adopting it and for its most important capability: real-time data access.

Blue Shield of California is changing that, partnering with Microsoft and Salesforce respectively to build its Experience Cube cloud ecosystem and deploy its Care Connect platform.

HealthLeaders interviewed Blue Shield EVP and CIO Lisa Davis on her plan’s cloud strategy and how Care Connect is closing multiple member care gaps.

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