Brigitte Nettesheim, president, North Central Region and Joint Ventures, Aetna, Chicago
Nettesheim, 46, began leading strategy for Aetna’s joint venture markets in 2016 and its North Central territory as well in 2018. In these roles, she is responsible for deepening Aetna’s relationships with consumers, employers, and providers, with a focus on transforming the way healthcare is delivered locally. Previously, she led Aetna’s Accountable Care Solutions and was a principal at The Chartis Group. She also held roles at Aetna in strategy, sales, service, and network management. Nettesheim served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of Captain.
MHE: Why did you choose your profession?
Nettesheim: As I transitioned out of the Army, I wanted to continue to serve the common good. I saw healthcare as a way to help improve people’s lives. I also saw opportunities to lead and drive change in healthcare. The military teaches you to have focus, agility, and the confidence to be decisive—all great leadership qualities.
MHE: What has been your biggest learning experience in the industry? What did it teach you?
Nettesheim: I learned that achieving better health goes far beyond the physician’s office and is heavily influenced by social determinants of health, such as conditions where we live, work, and play. I also learned the importance of having patience. In a large, complex industry like healthcare, sometimes things don’t move as quickly as you would like.
MHE: What change would you like to see in healthcare in the next five to 10 years?
Nettesheim: Our industry has an opportunity to sharpen its focus on consumers and their need for better and more affordable care. Accomplishing that takes teamwork and collaboration, which can be challenging at times due to the industry’s complexity, misaligned incentives, and the wide variety of stakeholders. That’s one reason why I’m so encouraged by some of the more progressive value-based care arrangements like joint ventures that create the aligned incentives among payers and providers needed to deliver greater value to consumers.
MHE: If you could sit down to dinner with anyone involved in healthcare who would it be?
Nettesheim: I’d love to sit down with Lyndon Johnson after he signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. Such programs drew debate during his and previous administrations. It would be fascinating to learn more about what drove his commitment to those programs and what he thought about their sustainability at that time.