Spotlight On: Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO, Independence Health Group

Spotlight On: Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO, Independence Health Group

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — The business community is responsible in a great way for the environment and success of any city. That is the case of leading health insurance company in the Philadelphia region Independence Blue Cross, which for decades has provided families with health security and stability. Under CEO Daniel Hilferty’s leadership, the company has tripled in size, serving about 8 million people nationwide. Hilferty shared with the Invest: team the company’s recent efforts toward innovation, while also addressing community challenges like the opioid crisis and healthcare affordability. 


 How is innovation transforming the way healthcare is designed, delivered and experienced? 

At Independence, innovation is in our DNA. Our members expect us to keep pace with the latest technologies and innovations. We also want to drive new ways of thinking throughout the region, which ultimately make this a better place to live, work, and play. We are very proud of our role in creating an innovative environment in the Philadelphia area. 

Here’s an example: We foster the innovation process by leading organizations, including our customers, through design thinking sessions, innovation events, and projects that promote out-of-the-box solutions. Now, all this work will take place in the new, state-of-the-art Center for Innovation located at our Center City headquarters on the West Market Street corridor, where our campus is located. The Center for Innovation is a phenomenal two-story space connected by an open staircase that has a very modern feel to it. This amazing physical space matches the strategic focus that we have always put on innovation.

Independence also develops partnerships to create solutions to some of the toughest healthcare challenges. For instance, the technology developed by Quil, our joint venture with Comcast, will change the way that people use technology in their journey to good health. Think about how confusing it can be to go through a medical procedure. What do you do before you go to the hospital? Or when you’re home recovering? Quil is going to lead you through those types of journeys and create a better, and healthier, experience.  

Independence also uses technology, research, and data analytics to help our members get and stay healthy. Take our work with Relay Network, also a national company based in the Philadelphia region. Together, we developed a personalized, HIPAA-compliant mobile communication program called IBXWire. It’s a great way to connect with our members. We send reminders about care gaps and flu shots and the type of information that is important but maybe isn’t at the front of your mind. By using this platform, Independence has created an effective way of communicating that helps members retain control and make better decisions about their healthcare. 

Finally, we celebrate and foster the spirit of innovation in our region. The most recent example is our support of the first ever B. PHL Innovation Festival that took place in October 2019. The festival was designed to build Philadelphia’s reputation as the most innovative city on the East Coast – a true place of choice for people looking to inspire new ideas, make connections, and ignite new ways of doing things.

How is Independence continuing to address crises, such as opioids, and how is it impacting the way that insurance companies do business?

Opioid abuse is the worst drug crisis in American history. At Independence, we are keenly focused on doing whatever we can to reverse this tragedy. Independence was one of the first insurers in the country to restrict first-time, low-dose opioid prescriptions to a five-day limit, except for patients with cancer or on hospice care. We also require prior authorization on all long-acting opioids. And it’s having an impact. We have seen an almost 60 percent decrease in the strength and quantity of opioids used by members with noncancer pain in four years.

We’ve also partnered with other experts to raise awareness and remove barriers, like the stigma of addiction. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation launched an effective public awareness campaign called Someone You Know that features people impacted by the opioid crisis telling their stories. We’re in our second year. Our Independence Foundation has also worked on a regional study to evaluate the effectiveness of “warm hand-off” programs that connect overdose survivors immediately with recovery programs.  


We’ve also worked closely with local, state and national leaders to elevate the importance of this epidemic. We have a moral imperative to end this crisis. People who are suffering are not faceless. They are our family, friends, business colleagues, neighbors. It’s personal.

What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities provided by the Philadelphia healthcare landscape?

People in the Philadelphia area are extremely fortunate to have access to some of the best hospitals and health systems in the country. At Independence, we have a long history of effectively working with area hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers, and that collaboration is only getting stronger.

But we have a lot of work to do. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Pennsylvanians were more likely to report skipping or delaying healthcare, including skipping dental care or check-ups, not filling a prescription, or relying on home remedies and over the counter drugs instead of visiting the doctor, due to cost, compared to other states. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association identified 10 common health conditions, including hypertension, major depression and high cholesterol, that have the greatest impact on Americans’ quality of life. We need to work to address these fundamental and chronic health problems.   

We can also do better when it comes to containing costs. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, our state faces higher healthcare costs without demonstrating higher quality of care than the rest of the United States. 


Healthcare must be affordable. We have to lower the overall cost of care, especially when it comes to prescription drugs. More than 23 percent of every healthcare premium dollar is spent on prescription drugs. To keep prices in check we need increased transparency, competition and consumer choice, and affordable access to generic and biosimilar drugs in a timely and cost-conscious manner. Drug costs are the fastest-growing costs in healthcare, led by injectable drugs. 


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Philly Zoo Embraces the Festive Spirit with LumiNature

Philly Zoo Embraces the Festive Spirit with LumiNature

By: Sara Warden 

2 min read December 2019 — During the Christmas season, electricity usage skyrockets as homes, businesses and local authorities light up the streets with Christmas displays and twinkling lights sure to make even the coldest hearts feel festive. This year, Philadelphia Zoo is getting in on the action with its inaugural LumiNature festival. 


After two years of planning and a $3.5 million investment, LumiNature will take place from Nov. 20 to Jan. 5, featuring 12 immersive displays containing over 600,000 lights inside the zoo’s boundaries. “LumiNature will transform the Zoo from its daytime magic into a winter wonderland, immersing guests in a joyous multimedia light and music spectacular,” said Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Marketing Officer Amy Shearer in a press release. “We will shine a light on the world’s elusive big cats and flamboyant peacocks, …all through the artistry of lights, media, sound and nature itself.”

Tickets start from a very affordable $19 for the night tour of the zoo while the animals slumber, where guests can see, among other displays, “lit flamingos … on their own 25-foot tree, a 35-foot polar bear made out of 23,000 pounds of recycled car doors … and all four seasons,” according to Shearer. The event, presented by JP Morgan Chase, promises 200 festively lit penguins, 45 completely custom LED light structures and a 21-foot snake. “LumiNature is set to be the most unique and memorable holiday-season light extravaganza in the entire Philadelphia and tri-state region,” added Shearer.

The intention is for LumiNature to be an unmissable family experience each year at Christmas. The event is also expected to attract visitors from out-of-town, just to see the fantastical light and sound show. Hilton hotels partnered with the event to offer Hilton Honours Members a special gift when attending LumiNature.

Hot chocolate and mulled wine will be on offer to guests as they stroll through the zoo, admiring the 12 difference displays. Here’s what the event organizers say guests should expect:

  • Wonder of Slumber: A beautiful and dreamy setting of lit orbs and giant illuminated flowers.
  • The Dreamery: A wishing well of sorts with a wave of the hand, bubbles, lights, and steam.
  • Snake Awake: Slither through brilliant purples, blues and greens as a giant snake slithers along beside you…
  • Frog Fantastical: Color washes throughout the trees and water-like images appear on the path before you.
  • Color me Chameleon: A kaleidoscope of color fills this festive plaza inviting guests to shop for their favorite light up items at the Zoo’s very first glow bar.
  • Big Cat Stalk: As you meander through this path of tall illuminated ‘grass’, the stalking eyes of these frisky felines will appear and disappear making you wonder if you are what they are dreaming of.
  • Evergreen Dreams: Situated in this lovely outdoor hang out are some surprising trees that come to life as they sing and welcome you to LumiNature.
  • Seasonbration: Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall all have a point of view that comes to life via lights, music, and special effects.
  • Northern Lights: A 35-foot polar bear named Polaris made entirely from white recycled car doors transforms into a gigantic screen that shares the magnificence and diversity of our planet. 
  • Flamingo Fancy: Guests will be surprised as they walk along brilliantly lit 8-foot pink “flamingos” when they encounter the most whimsical tree within LumiNature: a 25-foot beauty made entirely of lit flamingo lawn ornaments!
  • Peacock Spectacular: Standing before giant, lit peacock feathers, people can get the most unique holiday picture of the season. 
  • Penguin Peace on Earth: Hundreds of illuminated penguins will fill the zoo’s lawn to bid guests farewell and wish them a very special holiday season in true zoo fashion.


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