Reducing costs is a challenge for any company, even more so if you are a 3-million-member-strong industry giant like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) and your specific task is to reduce the healthcare costs associated with chronically ill members.

BCBSMA knew that realizing their goal would require the company to significantly influence their members’ behavior and gain the trust of providers, many of who still clung to a poor perception of BCBSMA’s healthcare plan. The healthcare giant also knew that they possessed sufficient in-house talent and resources to tackle their goal. But they recognized that their traditional methodology would not reveal entirely new strategies to redefine the industry approach to care management or lead to their goal of dramatically improving member health at lower costs. So instead of tackling the challenge the usual safe way, BCBSMA chose the courageous path and turned to Synecticsworld for help.


The Synecticsworld team moved immediately to begin building support from other internal stakeholders, and, employing an insight-led innovation approach, guided BCBSMA’s client team whose diverse makeup brought with it a wealth of experience in the world of healthcare and beyond.

During the project, the team:

  • Conducted ethnographic visits into member homes and provider offices;
  • Accompanied members as they went about various daily activities;
  • Actively participated in creative discovery labs with both members and providers;
  • Interacted with external ‘experts’, who included a talent agency director, an extreme skateboarder and an orchestra conductor, in order to catalyze the team’s thinking in new directions;
  • Created key insights which helped provide a rich collective understanding of the needs and wants of chronically ill members, their caregivers and providers; and,
  • Developed a focused platform to invent unique, new approaches to care management.


By the project’s conclusion, the Synecticsworld-led team had created seven concepts, three of which are now moving forward into the pilot stage. Furthermore, the insights developed through the immersion experience shifted BCBSMA’s thinking around how key external stakeholders perceived their role, how BCBSMA engaged these stakeholders, and the strategies the healthcare company employed to build and maintain healthy relationships with both their stakeholders and members.

The team’s experience was so powerful that the Synectics techniques were proposed as a model for the approach that BCBSMA should take to help it build and sustain a culture of innovation.

“Learning things from our members and providers which we didn’t know and which changed the way we view our relationship with them.” – Robert Mandell, Vice President, Transformation, BCBSMA

First-hand learning and refreshing insight… sounds like a prescription for a healthy company.

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