Executive vice president of strategic growth and government programs, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Ricardo Johnson keeps CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's members top of mind when searching for care solutions.
He launched the company’s Healthworx innovation and investment unit in 2017 to invest in, partner with and create companies to improve care for CareFirst's 3.6 million policyholders in the Washington, D.C., region.
Since 2017, Healthworx has invested $200 million into 45 ventures geared toward underserved populations. For example, its investment in Scene Health aims to boost medication adherence among CareFirst Medicaid enrollees.
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“What we said was: Let's be intentional about how we do innovation so that we don't just have a bunch of solutions in search of a problem," Johnson said. "Let's really narrow in on the opportunities and areas that we think are of need to our members, to our company and to the healthcare system at large.”
Knowing 40% of CareFirst members don’t have a primary care doctor, Johnson said Healthworx created virtual platform CloseKnit to bring primary care, urgent care and mental healthcare closer to members.
Healthworx's accelerator invests in companies at the seed level and assigns mentors within CareFirst and at health systems to bring them to the next stage.
Johnson was also part of discussions to move the company into Medicaid in 2019 and Medicare in 2020. Johnson serves as a commissioner on the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission, which decides hospital reimbursements under the state's all-payer rate setting system.