Innovating Healthcare from the Inside Out, Starting in Kansas City

May 17, 2018

Healthcare today is at a crossroads – as other industries move toward on-demand, simplified user experiences, we must do the same. No longer can our mindset be, “this is how it’s done.” We must look beyond existing systems, operations and roadblocks to deliver better, smarter care.

Where do we begin?

Getting started can sometimes be the greatest hurdle. Healthcare is already complicated and costly – the price of medical care is the single biggest factor behind U.S. healthcare spending, accounting for 90 percent of the $3 trillion spent annually on healthcare in this country. Instead of trying to improve healthcare by chipping away at challenges from the outside in, what if we innovated from the inside out?

Last year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) took this approach with the launch of Spira Care – a new primary care and insurance offering that was designed by consumers from start to finish to create a health plan that’s easy to understand. The results are incomparable. The Spira Care experience takes place at Care Centers, where personal care guides help members navigate their care with no deductibles, no copays and no additional costs for any procedures performed onsite. Feedback from members has been overwhelmingly positive, and we plan to continue to expand Spira Care access to Blue KC members this year and beyond.

When facing any new challenge, the greatest learnings often come from the most obvious of places. With Spira Care, we learned that patients hold the key to learn how we can provide care for them. Too long has the conversation about “value-based care” not included the patient. When designing Spira Care, we saw that opening a two-way dialogue empowered members to have a voice in their service. This enables us to confidentially design new care strategies that will improve the overall experience and health of our members.

With this same thinking in mind, we recently partnered with the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Bloch School of Management to launch the Blue KC Healthcare Innovation Prize. We want to encourage the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs from outside of our network to share how they believe we can drive the healthcare industry forward.

This year’s two winning teams exemplified innovation and implementing technology in the pursuit of better patient care. The first-place winner, BodyGuard ID, sought to prevent medical errors by creating a better and more reliable medical ID bracelet and the second-place winner, Exodus Biosciences, came up with a blood test to more accurately diagnose multiple sclerosis with quicker and more accurate results than current tests will allow.

We’ve seen that this kind of outside thinking moves the needle forward to address some of today’s greatest healthcare challenges. That’s why we are tapping the next generation of innovators who will drive change in the healthcare landscape, starting here in Kansas City. Our greatest prospect is to embrace this disruption, break away from traditional models and facilitate innovation as best we can.