BCBS CEO's accidental healthcare experience inspires holistic care clinic

Team of doctors talking
Steve Martin, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
Steve Martin

In an accidental turn of events, one health insurance CEO’s experience as a patient led to the launch of a new clinic aimed at holistic health and better care coordination among providers. 

Steve Martin, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska, stood up and hit his head on the cabinet one day. What at first seemed like a minor injury actually was quite serious and led to hospitalization, weeks in rehab and gave Martin a new perspective on what it's like to be a patient in an industry that doesn't foster cooperation and communication among healthcare providers, according to Live Well Nebraska.

His experience helped pave the way for BCBS Nebraska’s 25 percent ownership in a new $45 million “think clinic,” the article notes. Think Whole Person Healthcare aims to eliminate emergency room visits and hospitalizations via enhanced communication across healthcare specialties. It is staffed with 24 primary care doctors, a foot doctor, a dentist and offers diagnostic screenings and physical therapy.

Martin told the publication that he believes the industry can generate savings and improve care quality if healthcare professionals across specialties to talk with one another and coordinate care for patients. Indeed, he estimates 30 percent of insurance premiums are the result of basic errors, such as “bad handoffs” from doctors to pharmacists, or between pharmacists and rehabilitation specialists.

"This has really made me double down,” he told the publication. “What I have to do with the rest of my life, whether here or someplace else, is to really get the system to work more as a team.”

This isn't the first time a CEO's personal experience has led an insurer to improve patient care. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini skiing accident led him to offer acupuncture, meditation and yoga as pain management tactics for the insurer’s employees, techniques he used instead of managing his pain with prescription painkillers.