Meet the Board: Independence Blue Cross' Rodrigo Cerda Discusses What's Coming in Clinical Care, the Future of Virtual Care and More

February 17, 2021
Briana Contreras

Peter Wehrwein

In this latest episode of the Meet the Board series on Tuning In to the C-Suite podcast, Managed Healthcare Executive's Peter Wehrwein and Briana Contreras speak with Rodrigo Cerda, vice president of clinical care transformation at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. Rodrigo is a newer member of MHE's Editorial Advisory Board and in the discussion he shared a bit about himself such as what his personal goals were. The focus of the discussion highlighted a pipeline of clinical care and what's to come, as well as looking at virtual care.

To listen to more episodes featured on Tuning Into The C-Suite, visit us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and iHeartRadio.

Below is a brief Q&A of the conversation with Rodrigo:

Q: You say that you're working in the innovation pipeline and you have all these bowls of candy in front of you. Could you just tell us about maybe one or two of the projects in the pipeline that you're most excited about and where you have some data, that they're accomplishing this transformation in clinical care?

A: Yeah, well I can tell you about two types of examples. There's two types of ways that we fund these kind of new initiatives. One is for things that are truly new, and then need development. We actually have a grant program. This year is the first year that we've we've done a kind of open grant application and give out a million dollars worth of grants for four new things. And across five grants, those are going to be announced shortly.

But I can tell you one that we've done in a prior year. And then the other aspect of it is where there's a good initiative. There's proof that it works in other settings, but we don't pay for it, and our providers don't do it. And so we need to figure out how to do both of those things. And I can give you an example of that. So an example of a grant: we've been working closely together with Penn medicine and their innovation center. You know, I think that there were the we had three grants last year, they ranged from an initiative that helps to have a better transition from the emergency room to home. So it gets them, you know, has that evaluation in the emergency room, sets them up with all the services they're going to need and technology enablement so that rather than getting admitted, you can divert some of those people to home. There's a few others where you breathe better together, one that was focused on COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, people who come in and out of the hospital all the time, and have problems that you could theoretically catch earlier. And so it's a way of really monitoring their symptoms and their needs. So that you know, rather than waiting until the time when they're definitely going to have to be admitted. It's really proactively taking care of them. And it uses a pretty innovative text based platform. So it's kind of high tech, low tech. Both of those are in progress now. So we don't have results on those yet.

There's another example: we have been working with a local cardiology group on doing telemonitoring for heart failure. So, you know, these people with heart failure you know, have chronic problems. They sometimes have issues with managing how much fluid builds up in their bodies. And, you know, if something bad happens with their heart or they eat too much salt, they can have fluid buildup. And you know, then they have trouble breathing and even sometimes trouble absorbing meds. And so a lot of times they end up having to come into the hospital and spend five days trying to get them back to normal. And so the idea there is to have a better telemonitoring scale, pulse oximeter to see how their oxygen levels, blood pressure, and cough are. We'll have the cardiology group on top of these patients that are always coming in and out of the hospital. The hypothesis there is that they can keep them out of the hospital as well. So that one is is also in development and enrolling now. So a lot of these things are all kind of hot off the presses. And maybe if you talk to us this time next year, we'll have great results to share.