Posts Tagged ‘BCBSNC’

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 12.00.20 PMBCBS of North Carolina recently launched a new video to explain healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act to its members. It is a very friendly, non-threatening presentation of the issues involved although they do dwell on the negative (potential increase in cost of health insurance premiums for individuals). Frankly, it’s a nice use of online video (I believe it also aired in a shorter version as a TV commercial). From a creative perspective, I love the accessible tone and design of this video. However, the content, in my opinion, does little to answer the questions of consumers and perhaps raises more questions than it answers. It certainly does nothing to relieve individuals of their concerns about how the ACA might impact them.

Here’s the text that introduces the video on YouTube:

“The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, will be in full swing by January 2014. But many people still have questions about what the ACA is and how it will impact them. Understand how ACA could affect your coverage and costs, and learn about your options for finding a plan that’s right for you. BCBSNC is dedicated to helping you find an insurance plan that meets your needs and to keeping premiums as affordable as possible. To find out more, visit NCHealthReform.com.”

Here’s a well-crafted video from the Kaiser Family Foundation, dealing with the same subject matter, but giving a more balanced view:

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina recently launched a new TV campaign. It caught my attention so I thought I’d share it here. The campaign contains powerful messaging that directly addresses consumers’ uncertainly at a time when the healthcare landscape is changing:

“Free of worry, Free of fear. Free of uncertainty. Uncover that feeling again because you are protected with the compassion of the cross and the security of the shield.”

“…go back to a time when you were braver than you even knew. You can go there again because you have the power of a card that opens doors in all 50 states.”

Check out these TV commercials from the campaign:

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Here’s a good news story for the holiday season – and my good news stories don’t often include stories of collaboration between payers and providers! Enjoy.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), and the UNC School of Medicine (UNC) are collaborating to create a physician assistant (PA) master’s degree program designed for returning military veterans with input from the United States Army Special Operations Command team at Fort Bragg, N.C. The program will build on the medical experience and training that Special Forces Medical Sergeants receive during their service and provide opportunities for veterans who want to transfer their unique and hard-earned skills into the health care system. This collaborative effort will improve health care access for North Carolinians by reducing the shortage of health care professionals in our state.

BCBSNC has pledged $1.2 million over the next four years to help UNC establish the master’s curriculum and hire full-time program staff. A significant portion of the grant will provide scholarship funds through the Medical Foundation of North Carolina to assist Special Forces Medical Sergeants who have transitioned out of the military. The program will be based in the School of Medicine’s Department of Allied Health Sciences.

The United States and North Carolina are facing a deepening shortage of doctors and primary care physicians. Some figures estimate that by 2020, there will be a national shortage of about 150,000 physicians and 65,000 primary care physicians. And in North Carolina, almost 1 million people live in areas that do not have enough health care professionals to effectively serve their communitiesii. UNC will create a two-year curriculum with training rotations at UNC Hospitals and free clinics around the state. The program’s training will focus on primary care to meet the needs of underserved communities in North Carolina.

Research has indicated there will be high interest and participation in the program. A 2010 national survey of Special Forces Medical Sergeants revealed that nine out of ten respondents wanted to pursue a career in health care outside of a military setting, and about half were interested in becoming PAs.

The UNC Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies degree program, pending approval by the Board of Governors, is in the early planning stages and plans to enroll its first class of student veterans in 2015.


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(File this post under shameless self-promotion.) One of the people I enjoy connecting with when I attend healthcare marketing conferences is Michele von Dambrowski, publisher of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends. I’ve known Michele for a number of years and she has graciously attended several of my presentations. Recently, Michele and her editor, Mark Gothberg, approached me about writing an article for eHealthcare Strategy & Trends.  The topic they wanted me to cover was “crowdsourcing among hospitals and health plans.” I’ve been intrigued by crowdsourcing and jumped at the opportunity. My article is included in the March 2012 issue of the publication.

As part of my research for the article, I was fortunate to interview Lee Aase, Director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media, Miles Appel, Director of Internal Web Capability for Kaiser Permanente, and Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur. (If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Keen, you should definitely check him out. He is a fascinating individual.) Even better, bear in mind that this is an article about crowdsourcing in healthcare, I was able to integrate a quote from Alexander Hamilton, one of the political philosophers whose thinking informed the development of our form of government. In the end, it was a lot of fun researching and writing this article. Organizations like Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center are innovating through the use of crowdsourcing programs.  I definitely invite you to learn more about crowdsourcing in healthcare, and , if you have time, to read the article. If you don’t subscribe to eHealthcare Strategy & Trends, you can learn more about the publication by clicking here.

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BCBSNC Foundation Challenges North Carolinians to Get Inspired, Inspire Others

Making a difference in light of daunting realities is the theme for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation’s new digital storytelling initiative –Inspired (http://www.inspirednc.org>). In an effort to showcase the contributions of local leaders and groups who sometimes go unnoticed, Inspired spotlights the philanthropic works of North Carolina nonprofit organizations and community leaders who are changing their communities for the better. The effort captures the passion and dedication of some of the state’s unsung heroes who are working diligently to improve the lives of their neighbors. This is reminiscent of CNN’s Hometown Heroes initiative – a program recognizing “everyday people changing the world.”

“We recognize that every day in towns and cities across the state, North Carolinians are rolling up their sleeves and making a difference in their communities and the state as a whole,” says Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. “We are in awe of the feats many of these organizations have accomplished – they’re committed to a bigger solution and are working tirelessly to succeed. They’ve inspired those closest to them, they’ve inspired us, and now we hope they will inspire others across our state.”

“These stories need to be told. They deserve to be told. You see, these aren’t faceless organizations, these are everyday people who have made the very deliberate choice of improving the world around them. A dentist who could be practicing anywhere, yet he has chosen to be where he is needed most. A family doctor and his medical student who still see value in and make time for house calls. And the hundreds of women in and around Kinston who are making lifelong bonds and life-changing health decisions thanks to the efforts of one woman.” (Kathy Higgins, Inspirednc Blog)

One of the most exciting elements of Inspired is the opportunity for visitors to the site to support the work of those BCBSNC Foundation grantees featured in the stories. Each time an online user shares a story through Facebook, Twitter or email, the BCBSNC Foundation will contribute $1 to a fund that will be divided among the nonprofits highlighted on the site. The goal of the campaign is to have stories shared 100,000 times, resulting in $100,000 for these worthy organizations. The nonprofits included in Inspired are:

  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
  •  Charlotte Community Health Clinic (North Carolina Association of Free Clinics)
  • Greene County Health, Inc.
  • North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians
  • North Carolina Council of Churches
  • North Carolina Dental Health Fund
  • North Carolina Parent Teacher Association
  • Southside United Health Center
  • Sparkplugs for a Healthy North Carolina (The Rensselaerville Institute)

“It is a real honor to have our work showcased in such a way,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “Our goal through Kids in Parks is to get children and families outside. The message we want to share is get unplugged and get outdoors. Ironically, we hope sharing this message online is an “aha” moment for parents to disconnect and go outside with their families. That’s a message we feel is worth forwarding on to your family and friends.”

“It’s no small task to mobilize a whole generation to get more active, or to take dental care where it is most needed, but that’s what these nonprofits are doing. They are the lifeline for communities in need,” added Higgins. “The challenges being faced are enormous in size, but the stories of people helping people should inspire us all to pass the message along – because the more people we reach the healthier our communities can become.”

Since the site launched on January 26, 2012, there have been more than 1,000 social shares and 3,056 unique visits to the site. Visit the Inspirednc blog at http://inspirednc.org/blog.

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Earlier this week I published a blog post that was critical of the new ad campaign that BCBS of North Carolina has launched. BCBSNC was quick to comment on my post with a thoughtful and well-reasoned response. Although I still stand by my earlier assessment of the campaign, it seems right to share their response and perspective with you. I believe that BCBSNC will be part of the solution; they have to be. But I do not support the tactics they have employed through the use of this ad campaign. It is clever but beneath them and intellectually dishonest. See their official response below. Also, after their response, I have provided links to some of the press coverage of the campaign.


Thank you for visiting LetsTalkCost.com and sharing your perspective on your blog. We acknowledge that BCBSNC has a role to play in finding real solutions for reining in medical costs. If we’re going to make a difference and address out-of-control costs, we have to start somewhere. The campaign we’ve launched featuring the scapegoats was a way for us to do that.

We used goats to emphasize that no one group is to blame, but to make it clear that everyone, including us, has a role to play. The humor in these ads helps us make our point and address the complexity of the issue, but we are serious about the need to control medical costs.

LetsTalkCost.com was developed to hear the voices and opinions of people just like you. I think we can all agree that medical costs are on an unsustainable path. There are a lot of good conversations taking place and I would like to hear your thoughts in the discussions.

Kathy Higgins
VP, Corporate Affairs for BCBSNC

Here are links to some of the press coverage:

“Blue Cross ad campaign looks at health care costs” – News & Observerhttp://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/14/1128377/barnyard-humor-for-blue-cross.html

Blue Cross of N.C. campaign focuses on making health care affordable – Charlotte Business Journal – http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2011/04/13/blue-cross-of-nc-campaign-focuses-on.html

“Blue Cross ad campaign may get some viewers’ goats” – Smart Briefhttp://www.smartbrief.com/news/hcmarketers/storyDetails.jsp?issueid=EE5EE6C5-8FCC-47AC-BD76-5C42DD8B4AB1&copyid=F8775313-5107-4450-86CF-7F7A14072803

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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It looks like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is ready to listen to its customers. And it is using a new website, and crowd sourcing, to do just that. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina just launched Blue Asks You NC  (http://www.blueasksyounc.com/t/Healthcare), an interactive online community, on February 1. BCBS’s objective is to have participants “inspire change and help North Carolina residents understand health issues in the state.” This looks like it might be part of a trend where health insurers are doing more online to engage consumers. See the recent article: “Health insurers try to ‘humanize’ themselves via Facebook, Twitter” in FierceHealthIT at http://ow.ly/3Rf7Z.

Blue Asks You NC is a crowd sourcing community that is designed to tap into insights offered up by residents of North Carolina. According to a recent release by BCBSNC, members of the community will be able to share insights, ask questions, get information, talk openly with others and learn from health care experts. “The community will be a forum for conversation and data collection unlike the health care industry has seen before. It will also create a direct line of communication between us at BCBSNC and the folks in North Carolina, allowing us listen to the needs and issues of our state. We truly believe this community can affect change in healthcare within our own company and across the state. We want your voice to be heard now and for future generations.”

BCBSNC will reward individuals for their participation. The more participation— like answering questions, commenting in threads or sharing with friends—the more entries the individual will receive into weekly drawings for prizes like gift cards and tickets to sporting events.

It is exciting that BCBSNC has recognized the potential of online networks to gain insights and have conversations with constituents. I’m curious to hear what they end up learning from this interaction. As I’ve said in previous posts, I hope that 2011 will be the year when organizations stop focusing on piling up fans and followers, and start approaching these social network with strategic intent. And from my perspective, that begins with listening to the group’s members. Check out my post titled: My call for a strategic shift in Healthcare Social Media.”

Pot by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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