Brad Wilson

CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Brad Wilson spoke at EB 1 on Thursday, 24 Jan 13 on technology in Healthcare, or rather the lack thereof, "What's the first thing you see when you walk into a doctor's office? Paper: folders, colored files." Photo by Kelsey Beal

The President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina spoke to N.C. State students Thursday night about problems the nation’s healthcare system is facing.

Brad Wilson, president and CEO of BCBSNC, joined a growing list of guest lecturers who have participated in the Fidelity Investments “Leadership in Technology” Executive Speaker Series, a program created by the N.C. State Department of Computer Science. 

In his speech, Wilson addressed some of the challenges and changes that are confronting the healthcare industry today. Wilson also talked about how providers and leaders in the industry are turning their attention toward technology and data to help create a better health care system.

 Wilson pointed to a lack of consistency in record keeping and impractical technology as the main problems plaguing the medical industry, and he said innovation and new technology will be integral in mitigating these grievances. 

Wilson described most modern healthcare offices’ filing systems as nothing more than “a bunch of colored folders,” a fact Wilson said needs to change.

According to Wilson, every hospital and healthcare service has its own system for keeping patients’ records, which may contribute to why people seeking healthcare services have to fill out several forms. If a universal system is implemented it can help eliminate unnecessary procedures and reduce costs, Wilson said.

Wilson also accused inefficient technology of being an impractical cost driver in the healthcare industry. Such technology is often unnecessary, raises the cost of healthcare and is not covered by most health insurers because they do not deem procedures associated with it to be effective.

Wilson said not all advances in technology are created in the best interest of the patients. As CEO for North Carolina’s largest health insurer, Wilson mentioned how Blue Cross and Blue Shield screens newer technologies to determine if they are more effective than the preexisting methods of treating patients.

“Just because someone comes out with something new does not necessarily mean it is in the best interest of the patient,” Wilson said. “It may not be any safer; it is not any more effective. It is just newer.”

Thomas Johnson, a senior in computer science, attended the program and said the event helped him create a bridge between computer science and the healthcare field.

Wilson’s speech was the first of the Fidelity Investments “Leadership in Technology” Executive Speaker Series held in the spring semester and there will be two more before the semester ends. Dates and locations can be found online at www.csc.ncsu.edu.