Predictive Analytics Case Study: Patrick Getzen, FSA, MAAA, SVP and chief data and analytics officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina
Patrick Getzen is a problem-solver. During more than 20 years in the health insurance industry, he’s advanced by staying on top of industry changes and using his skills and expertise to solve problems, whatever form they may take.
Patrick began his career as an entry-level actuary at Carefirst in 1994, and moved to take a job as actuarial assistant at Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) in 1996. Today, he’s the company’s senior vice president and chief data and analytics officer, a role he grew into over the years after starting his career in a more traditional actuarial capacity.
“My experience as an actuary served as a good foundation for the role of chief data and analytics officer,” says Patrick. “Using math and analytical skills, combined with familiarity with corporate functions such as operations, customer service and digital marketing, allows me to use data and analytics to solve current challenges as well as find new value in my job.”
Before transitioning to his current role, Patrick served as Blue Cross NC’s chief actuary. His job was to use disparate sources of data to make predictions, whether it was claims data, membership data or provider contracting. But, he also took advantage of Blue Cross NC’s open-minded culture to make the transition into predictive analytics.
“I’m very fortunate to work for a company that has always allowed me to bring a perspective beyond actuarial science to our business,” says Patrick. “We try to make sure employees have opportunities to apply their skills and interests while, at the same time, meeting a need for our business.”
And it was this intersection between interest and need that inspired Patrick to deviate from his traditional actuarial role. He started by identifying the business challenges Blue Cross NC was trying to solve, and understood that all problems needed the right foundation of data and analytics to be solved. Through discussions with Blue Cross’ like-minded CEO, there was an opportunity for a specific role in data and analytics.
His new position as chief data and analytics officer was a good fit for Patrick’s experience, but that didn’t mean the transition came without challenges. He immediately understood the importance of “getting the people side of it right.” Patrick acknowledges that creating a new group dedicated to data management and analytics represents a lot of change. Implementing a purposeful and structured change management program – how to help his team and proactively work through change – was key to the transition.
Patrick’s team brings a broad and diverse set of skills and experience to the table – analytics, data science and engineering. “Our work requires technical skills to help us move quickly in a rapidly changing industry; but more than that, it requires problem-solving skills,” says Patrick. Patrick’s team takes available data and translates it into actionable information for the company. “We’re providing the insights today that will transform healthcare tomorrow.”
Patrick continues to remain immersed in evolving technological advancements – staying connected to venture capitalists and tech companies in Silicon Valley – and shares the insights he gleans with his team. “The problems we’re trying to solve in healthcare are the same problems other industries face, such as lowering costs, improving quality and creating a better customer experience.”
According to Patrick, there are many opportunities for actuaries to evolve their roles. Today’s world is rife with opportunities for a profession that specializes in managing risk. The risk management space is growing in many industries, along with risk management challenges like data security and growing volumes of protected information.
“There’s a growth opportunity for actuaries to apply their skills in new ways, and to more industries,” says Patrick. “They can bring a structural thought process to many areas of business.”
And for Blue Cross NC, Patrick sees a big opportunity for actuaries to help create and manage new payment models, wherein providers are paid for quality outcomes to offset taking on more risk.
Patrick’s analytical, problem-solver mindset rises to the surface when discussing his definition of success. “Personal happiness and satisfaction doesn’t always happen by accident. You have to think about it. That’s how I have thought about success – starting with the goal in mind, and working backward to see how I’m going to achieve it.”