Blue Shield of California Tech Startup to Support Independent Physicians

March 18, 2019
Jeff Bailet, M.D., Blue Shield’s executive vice president of health care quality and affordability, named CEO of new entity

To address physician burnout issues, the nonprofit Blue Shield of California announced it is launching a new company that will provide advanced technology and services to independent physicians as well as enhanced medical services to Californians.

“There is an urgent need to change the healthcare system, which is too expensive and creates a significant burden on American families,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, in a prepared statement. “It is also contributing to serious physician burnout and fatigue. We need to help physicians change how they practice medicine and engage patients. Instead of spending time entering data into a computer, doctors should be able to use the latest technology and spend more time doing what they do best: connecting with patients and providing personalized care.”

The new company doesn’t have a name yet, but Blue Shield, which has annual revenue of $17.6 billion and 4 million members, announced that Jeff Bailet, M.D., Blue Shield’s executive vice president of health care quality and affordability, has been appointed to be the new entity’s president and CEO. Ruth Hendrickson, a Blue Shield vice president of human resources, has been named chief human resources officer and vice president of internal communications to lead the new entity’s people strategy.

Blue Shield also announced other management changes:

• Terry Gilliland, M.D., Blue Shield’s senior vice president and chief health officer, has been named to replace Dr. Bailet as executive vice president of health care quality and affordability.

• Peter Long, president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, will move to Blue Shield of California to become senior vice president of healthcare and community health transformation. A search is underway to identify a new leader for the foundation.

• Karen Xie becomes Blue Shield of California’s new chief technology officer and a search will be launched for a new chief information officer. Both roles will report to Michael Mathias, currently Blue Shield of California’s executive vice president of customer experience and CIO.

Last fall Blue Shield of California and OODA Health, a San Francisco-based startup, announced they would collaborate to build a cloud-based software platform to provide real-time claims payments to healthcare providers immediately after they deliver care to patients.

At the time Blue Shield and OODA Health said they planned to roll out the new technology as a pilot program with Dignity Health and Hill Physicians in Oakland. As part of the collaboration, Blue Shield provided a $1.5 million equity investment to OODA Health, which raised $40.5 million in its Series A fundraising round. Blue Shield said its ownership stake in OODA Health may increase pending the results of the claims payment pilot project.

At the time of the OODA investment, Blue Shield highlighted it sother technology-related initiatives:

• A $30 million, five-year collaboration with the California Medical Association to support independent physicians’ practices with pilot projects to test technology to assist with administrative burden.

• An ongoing investment commitment to Manifest MedEx to help it establish a state-wide health information exchange to improve the efficiency and enhance the quality of care for patients and providers.

• A collaboration with Gemini Health, which has developed software to improve drug prescriptions.