Q&A with WellPoint's Next CEO, Joe Swedish

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 15, 2013

HLM: Do you have a specific agenda in mind for your first few months at WellPoint?

It's getting aligned with the team that is in place, getting my bearings regarding the strategic plans that have already been formulated, possibly amending those plans based on a thorough review of what had previously been created, engaging with the marketplace.

Obviously, I have a newfound responsibility to deal with the investment community and the analysts that support our organization. Also, broadly speaking, throughout the United States we have a very significant reach.

One-out-of-nine Americans is insured by WellPoint so we are a far-flung organization. I am going to get to know a lot of people in a lot of markets and try to figure out how best to reintegrate our activities as timely as possible so we can be more efficient and effective.

HLM: It's been suggested that WellPoint is having problems adapting to the tremendous changes in the healthcare market place. Can you provide the push that gets things moving?

It would be presumptuous of me to weigh in on that because I don't know the organization well enough to pass judgment. All payers are looking for the strengths that are necessary to effectively compete and provide better services to their members.

WellPoint is not different. The degree to which they are either ahead or behind I will leave to others to decide. My objective is to assess strategy and recast it if necessary, strengthen it in ways that are necessary, and work with the team to move forward. I like our chances based on what I've seen.

I consider it a very strong organization with a strong foundation that is in a transitional era just like everybody else. The questions are, what are we going to do to reposition ourselves and most importantly can we effectively execute? Beyond that, everything else will fall into place just fine it we can do well on both of those accounts.

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