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Don Antonucci, president of Regence Blue Shield, presents his problem statements to the audience.

Laurent Rotival sees two problems facing the healthcare industry: baby boomers and millennials. Baby boomers are so numerous they’re putting pressure on healthcare systems to accommodate their needs as they age, and millennials are just as needy in their demands for quick, easy, technologically-enabled healthcare.

Laurent Rotival, CIO and SVP of Cambia Health Solutions.

“You’ve got the baby boomers…all entering the 60+ range, so you have an enormous need for healthcare interaction,” he said. “Then you’ve got the millennials who have absolutely no tolerance for solutions that are not designed around them. They want convenience, they want things to be enabled on their smartphones.” Whatever the services, they want “everything to be personalized to their requirements.”

Rotival is the CIO and senior VP of Cambia Health Solutions, the parent company of health insurance company Regence Blue Shield and other healthcare companies. Like Rotival, other healthcare execs see big obstacles in healthcare in the future. And they all want startups to help them out with solutions.

Yesterday, Cambia hosted a “reverse pitch” for established healthcare companies seeking startups at Cambia Grove, the company’s collaborative workspace for healthcare innovation in Seattle. Rather than startups pitching to investors, the idea behind a reverse pitch is for companies to pitch their challenges for startups to solve.

Participating companies included UW Medicine, Multicare Health System, and Cambia’s own Regence Blue Shield. Cambia Grove has held multiple reverse pitch sessions, including one last month with the CHI Franciscan healthcare group.

The problems presented last night ranged from traditional issues that are simply increasing in scope — like access to healthcare, navigation of healthcare options, and quality and cost effectiveness of care — to new problems born of the technological era, like dealing with large volumes of stored patient data, digital brand and image, and creating personalized healthcare experiences for customers.

Kat Kozitza, vice president of digital solutions at Regence.

The problems may seem big, but developments in the IT industry, as well as cloud and mobile-based technologies, will fill some of the gaps, Rotival said. In the past, technological solutions in healthcare meant cumbersome electronic records systems that he compared to “aircraft carriers” in adaptability and speed.

Now, he says, technology is finally nimble enough to be useful, sophisticated enough to comply effectively with regulations, and secure enough to handle sensitive patient data. For instance, Regence wants to increase its digital engagement with customers with chronic care needs, the sort of patients who interact regularly with providers.

Regence Blue Shield wants to manage risks, improve decision-making around healthcare, and connect with patient families to help people with chronic conditions get better care, said Don Antonucci, the president of Regence, during his pitch to the crowd.

Invited to apply for a paid pilot with Regence were startups that understand how to collect and analyze data on this population, and startups that could integrate that data into a simple online platform customized to people with chronic conditions.


Currently, Cambia Health Solutions comprises nearly 30 companies and employs more than 1700 people in Washington State. It serves more than 2 million members across four states — Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. The company is an umbrella for health plans, including Regence Blue Shield, as well as for a portfolio of startups.

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