Charting Change Behavior where Change is Constant: Patrick Getzen, FSA, MAAA

Career changes typically follow a major milestone—a promotion, a job offer, a new degree, maybe a cross-country move. For Patrick Getzen, exposure to some new perspectives ignited a shift.

Since 2018, Patrick has served as chief data and analytics officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (Blue Cross NC). He collaborates with Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technology leaders to solve some of health care’s biggest problems—such as how to address deep technological disruptions in patient data collection and exchange.

Patrick has always had a strong interest in behavioral economics and has developed an interest in change management theory. His frequent trips to northern California introduced him to many new people, to add to the professionals he knew and worked with locally. These relationships both validated and pushed his thinking on these two topics. Their different perspectives redrew his actuarial atlas, while his holistic understanding of health care helped him identify new career opportunities and pursue them confidently.

“Actuaries get pigeonholed into certain roles because it’s easy for a company to place them in this insurance box,” he says. “In many industries—but health care especially—their skills in pricing and valuation are important but can easily transfer into data modeling.”

Patrick had spent the previous two decades walking the traditional actuarial path, using claims data, membership data or provider contracting to make predictions. But he began charting a new career course once he began asking new questions: How does behavioral economics relate to predictive analytics? How will technology reshape health care? What’s the best way help people adapt to this disruption?

As he began to identify Blue Cross NC’s business challenges and how predictive analytics might solve them, change became an outgrowth of his career and the theme of his work as chief analytics officer. His problem-solving spurred career growth and he was able to apply these new interests to a different career path.

Health care is a dynamic industry with complex problems that require multifaceted solutions, so Patrick built a team with diverse skill sets and experiences: analytics, data science, engineering as well as psychology and business disciplines.

Creating this new team wasn’t easy. The need for a major organizational restructure was his biggest challenge, so he turned to the change management strategies he’d learned along his career path to help his team proactively work through this rapid transition. Important to this was understanding that it wasn’t necessary to do this by himself, but to lean on experts in this space to help.

“Actuaries don’t spend a lot of time thinking about behaviors and change management,” he says. “We are system thinkers, but there’s a science behind how people make decisions and interact with each other. I’ve worked with others to push my company to understand these types of behaviors to get our team behind these new organizational strategies, and to reorient how they analyze data and communicate insight.”

Today, his team focuses on data interoperability, advanced analytics modeling and causal machine learning to gather and share data with hospitals, health organizations and members more effectively.

“The problems we’re trying to solve in healthcare are similar to problems other industries face, such as lowering costs, improving quality and creating a better customer experience,” says Patrick. “Don’t ever shortchange yourself and the impact you can make. Understand there are big challenges out there, and actuaries have the ability to solve them.”