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    Top 10 up-and-coming industry leaders in managed care


    Michelle Histand, BA
    Director of Innovation, Independence Blue Cross
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    HistandHistandHistand has excelled in the industry more than 12 years, most recently managing the innovation design thinking program at Independence Blue Cross. Histand built the insurer’s design thinking program—which has become a significant part of the company’s broader innovation strategy. The program set out to change the way Independence’s employees solve complex business problems, by using “design thinking” principals. The basic tenets of design thinking focus on understanding what’s most important to consumers, and then designing processes, products, or interactions that optimize those beliefs. It has become a highly sought-after program by universities, healthcare leaders, Blue Cross health plans, and others who are applying the tools Histand customized to address business challenges.

    MHE: Why did you choose your profession?

    Histand: I’ve always wanted to work in a field that helps people significantly. My first job at Independence was in learning and development; at that time I didn’t know much about healthcare. Over the years I’ve become passionate about access to care for everyone, particularly women. I moved into the innovation function, seeing an opportunity to think creatively in a large, traditional company. I felt that I could make a direct difference for our members and employees by helping them think about healthcare in a whole new light.

    MHE: What has been your biggest learning experience?

    Histand: An interesting change for me was experiencing the shift from working for a business that sells to other businesses, to working for one that sells to consumers. It’s taught me how critical the customer experience is and how using methodologies such as design thinking can refocus the business to see things from the customers’ perspective.  

    MHE: What change would you like to see in healthcare in the next 10 years?

    Histand: I hope health insurance will become easier for people to understand and use. I’d love to reach a point where consumers can easily find a good surgeon or schedule an annual physical, for example, and know exactly when to do it, how to do it, and how much it costs.

    MHE: If you could sit down to dinner with anyone involved in healthcare, who would it be? 

    Histand: Former U.S. President Barack Obama—he had an amazing vision that everyone should have access to care, and he worked to do it—despite many challenges. His hope for the future and drive to do the right thing was unwavering. I admire him immensely.

    Next: The next emerging industry leader


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