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Cambia Brings Innovation Management to Holistic Palliative Care

When Mark Ganz, President and CEO of Cambia Health Solutions, announced the launch of its new holistic care system, he simply stated: “This isn’t about a return on investment; it’s about a return on humanity.”

Last July, Cambia Health Solutions rolled out a one-of-a-kind program to the 2.2 million members it serves, which will transform the way people experience health care, especially when faced with a serious illness. It promises to be the nation’s most comprehensive palliative care program to date.

Innovation Management in Health Care

As our nation’s population ages, the necessity of palliative care continues to grow. Experts predict that by 2050, the need for long-term support and services will increase from 9 to 27 million, and dementia-related hospitalizations will increase to more than 7 million. Facing a serious illness is a deeply personal experience, and Cambia’s approach is focused on respecting the patient’s wishes, from diagnosis to completion of life.

Recognizing the need for an approach that deviates from the traditional, Cambia’s palliative care program will include new health care services, benefits, training, and education that ensures the entire care team puts the patient’s physical, social, and spiritual needs at the center of the care delivery plan. The new program will differ from current palliative care programs by reimbursing services not typically covered, as well as providing care coordination and education through all stages of illness.

“This integrated approach includes support across the care continuum for medical providers, patients, and their families. We want our members to feel supported in defining and achieving their ideal quality of life, whether it’s at the point of a serious-illness diagnosis, the advance care planning phase, or simply choosing quality health care coverage for their families,” said Dr. Richard Popiel, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Cambia. “Currently, health care is centered on the institution. Patients come to the doctor’s office or the hospital, and the doctor’s goal is to cure the patient. By educating the health system and the consumer, and by customizing the services a patient can receive to their situation, we can shift the paradigm from being provider- to person and family-centered. We can approach the patient as a person to be healed and not a condition to be cured. We hope that this unique, person-centered program will pave the way for health care providers nationwide to adopt a similar program.”

Return on Humanity: Cambia’s Innovation Force

The recent announcement of Cambia’s groundbreaking palliative care program progressed naturally out of an alignment and relationships made with its corporate philanthropy arm, Cambia Health Foundation. This included 153 grants, totaling more than $10 million, to advance palliative care access, awareness, and quality throughout the nation. It is also a reflection of cultural innovation within Cambia — internal surveys show an uptick in the number of employees who believe the company values innovation, from 34 to 84 percent over the course of the last three years.

During this shift, Cambia has relied on an integrated social innovation platform as well as a small, dedicated team known as the Innovation Force.

In addition to ownership of Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cambia has created a portfolio of health solutions companies — some built from the ground- up, some acquisitions or investments in organizations — but all of which are aligned around the cause of transforming healthcare by creating a person-focused and economically sustainable system.

Collaboration, Culture, and Value

At Cambia, innovation is truly a company value, and its Innovation Force encourages employees to live it daily by sharing ideas and working together on expanding concepts. Perhaps most importantly, they strive to encourage a collaborative, values-based culture that’s on a mission to positively disrupt the health care industry, and drive real returns on humanity.

**This article was originally published in issue #3 of Mindjet’s INQ Magazine: Innovation for the Enterprise.

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