By Sara Mulder - Senior Public Relations Specialist

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Talking with Minnesota: What we learned

July 25, 2017

As the future of health care within the nation continues to be discussed, meaningful progress to improve the lives of Minnesotans is being made in communities throughout the state.

The Blue Cross Trailblazer Tour, a program launched in June 2016, recognizes organizations throughout Minnesota for their innovative efforts to move health forward. These organizations exemplify what Blue Cross believes to be a model for creating a healthier Minnesota.

Stories of these organizations—which includes businesses, hospitals and clinics, and nonprofit organizations— are showcased on the Trailblazer Tour website.

Statewide listening tour

As an important part of this tour, Blue Cross convened a series of dialogues with a variety of community leaders representing government, business, education, nonprofits, public health and the health care industry. We went on the road to visit five cities throughout the state to engage with local leaders.

Through these conversations, we learned what’s working and talked about the tough issues. This knowledge will help Blue Cross work together with community, businesses and health care leaders to create a future where all Minnesotans have a chance for better health.

“We recognize that health care transformation happens when people and organizations come together in their communities to collaborate on innovative solutions,” said Scott Keefer, vice president of public affairs at Blue Cross. “I’d like to thank everyone who took time to share their perspectives – the candid feedback we received will help inform our strategies as we work to improve health care for all Minnesotans.”

Five cities, four themes

While each community has unique opportunities, four common themes emerged from these meetings. This knowledge is invaluable as we continue to work in communities and with policymakers to help create a healthier Minnesota.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. Collaboration and integration are key.
    The health care system needs better collaboration among stakeholders and integration between different sectors, including social services, education, medical care and mental health.
  2. Information must be better, simpler and more accessible.
    From avoiding lingo to utilizing technology, there is much opportunity to make health care connected and easier to understand.
  3. We have to be willing to take risks, try new things and invest.
    Risk is inherent to innovation. We must be committed to a test-and-learn mindset. And while investing in pilot programs is important, so is ensuring ongoing funding for programs producing results. When solutions work, we must all fan the flames of those successes so that programs can be grown or duplicated in other communities.
  4. Care needs to be inclusive and personalized.
    The health care industry needs more providers and other influencers who look like and share similar life experiences with the patients and clients they serve, and a deeper commitment to culturally responsive care.
Trailblazer Tour 2.0

The 2016 Trailblazer Tour gave us a chance to listen to the voices of Minnesota community leaders. Now, we’re taking steps based on what we’ve heard. We’re also gearing up to honor more organizations that have shown great innovation. In 2017, we plan to:

  • Take this feedback and look at all aspects of our business.
  • Listen to what’s not working. Commit ourselves to influencing people and policy to make it better.
  • Continue to highlight successful innovations with the hope of inspiring similar actions.
  • Celebrate more success stories and engage with more communities.
Read the Trailblazer report

You can read the complete stakeholder engagement report on the Trailblazer Tour website at

While there, you can also read the feature stories of our first 13 Trailblazers and sign up for email alerts to hear updates when future Trailblazers are announced.

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