The innovation team at Premera Blue Cross was charged with developing new ideas for solving customer pain points and bringing healthcare into the 21st century. While the team realized the best ideas would likely come from its employees, there was no effective system in place to gather those ideas, collaborate across the organization, and find new, customer-centric opportunities.


To enable companywide participation in innovation, Premera Blue Cross chose the Planview IdeaPlace innovation management solution to easily engage employees across four campuses, as well as telecommuters, in the innovation process. The company-wide launch of IdeaPlace generated nearly 450 fresh ideas over six weeks and participation from 73 percent of employees.

“IdeaPlace inspires employees to speak up and share their knowledge and ideas. Instead of just saying we want to hear from them, we are showing them that their contributions matter.”

– Patti Brooke, Director of Innovation at Premera

About Premera Blue Cross

Premera Blue Cross is the largest health plan in the Pacific Northwest, with a network of more than 38,000 doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers who serve more than two million members. Approximately 3,200 employees make up Premera Blue Cross, each with the mission to put customers first and improve their lives by making healthcare work better.

Challenge: Driving an Innovation Culture to Solve Customer Pain Points

With a strong battle cry to unleash innovation and put customers at the center of everything they do, Premera Blue Cross wanted to invigorate all of its employees by giving them a voice, no matter their position or location in the company. With a large remote workforce, typical suggestion boxes weren’t an option as they fail to engage employees, nor do they provide any collaboration or tracking mechanism to move ideas forward through the innovation process. The innovation team at Premera decided to think outside of the box to leverage technology and marketing to drive a culture change at the company – one that would give everyone a voice and a platform to share their wisdom, as well as collaborate to build upon one another’s ideas.

Solution: Harness Ideas from Across the Company

Premera deployed IdeaPlace company-wide to 3,200 employees across four campuses and 900 telecommuters. They were asked one question: “As we make healthcare work better, how might we provide positive surprises to our customers and delight them?” Using IdeaPlace, employees submitted, commented, merged, voted, and built upon ideas, and then leveraged IdeaPlace’s pairwise comparison voting until the top 30 ideas remained. The solution’s scoring capability enabled a cross-functional committee of executives to prioritize and promote the best of those ideas. “IdeaPlace has helped us unleash innovation across our enterprise,” says Patti Brooke, director of innovation at Premera. “It has given us an interactive platform for crowdsourcing and nurturing ideators, not just ideas.”

Results: Record Employee Engagement and Ideation

After an exciting and comprehensive marketing campaign to launch IdeaPlace company-wide, the response surpassed Premera’s best-case predictions, with 73 percent of employees participating in the initial ideation campaign, amassing more than 400 ideas and nearly 11,000 votes. “We know our employees have the best ideas on how healthcare can be better and they want to be part of the solution,” says Brooke. “The collaboration in IdeaPlace creates an innovation culture and gives our employees a home to offer real, actionable ideas we can leverage to continually improve the customer experience.”

Future: Connecting Front-end Innovation to Delivery

The success of the initial IdeaPlace rollout at Premera has had a snowball effect, inspiring employees to continue ideating to help improve the customer experience. IdeaPlace is providing a sustainable way to grow both Premera’s culture of innovation as well as nurturing its ideators to take risks and solve real business problems. But the innovation doesn’t stop at selecting winning ideas. Premera understands the secret of being able to execute and deliver those ideas. The company has dedicated resources to bring the winning ideas to life. Between comfort boxes for newly diagnosed cancer patients, baby boxes for babies born in rural Alaska, and progress on how to reduce surprise medical bills, Premera Blue Cross has delivered employee-generated innovation to its customers, and will continue to utilize crowdsourcing in their innovation toolkit.

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