Born and raised in Aspen, Colorado, Joan Harvey has always had an entrepreneurial spirit – one that places great emphasis on both employees and the voice of the customer.
Harvey, who today serves as the president of Care Solutions at Evernorth, grew up in her family’s Rocky Mountain restaurant, often joining her dad at work in the kitchen, helping with prep, and really getting a handle on the ins and outs of what success looks like in a service-oriented industry.
“I think the biggest lesson my dad taught me is that employee experience drives customer experience, and that’s something I’ve held onto for all these years,” she said. “My dad was big on supporting his staff, and he really treated them like family. In turn, they worked really hard for us and did all they could to provide superb experiences to our patrons.”
Our Newsroom staff sat down with Harvey to talk about her career, how her dad’s restaurant molded her into the professional she is today, and what it’s like being a woman in the business world. Read on for some of the most interesting excerpts from the conversation.
Tell us about your career and your role at Evernorth?
I oversee the medical, behavioral, and pharmacy clinical programs and care management services offered by Evernorth, the health services division of The Cigna Group. This includes leading the development of innovative care solutions that connect and coordinate capabilities across Evernorth for health plans, employers, and government programs.
Before joining Evernorth, I led consumer health engagement and behavioral programs for Cigna Healthcare’s 17 million U.S. customers. I also held leadership positions at Medco specialty pharmacy, WellPoint 360 Health, and American Imaging Management – always with a focus on growing businesses, building diverse teams, and bringing solutions that empower people to take control of their health
I have an MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management, and I did quite a bit of international work in health care.
Drawing upon your experiences, do you have advice for women trying to build their careers?
Always remember that women have great skills that are important in business. They create communities. They think differently about how to accomplish things. They also are accustomed to making decisions. In the home, the person of influence is the woman: 89% of consumer electronic purchases are made by women, and 90% of health care decisions are made by women.
At the same time, it is important to understand and recognize your strengths and be willing to ask for help. Remember that you can’t do everything, and you can’t be everything, so take the time to create a community and network of people to help you.
It’s so important for women to help and lean on each other. Be human and vulnerable, and share your stories. Be compassionate to the people around you and what they’re going through – everyone, not only women.
Finally, to advance your career, having mentors and sponsors and creating a trusted network is critical. Demonstrate your value and don’t be afraid to be your own biggest, strongest advocate as you continue to push and promote what’s right for the organization as well as your own personal development.
How did your father’s skill and passion for his restaurant business shape your workstyle today?
I grew up watching my father, hearing his philosophy, seeing his leadership and how he thought about his employees. My father was a big family person and a big community person, and he supported his staff. It was a real family environment, and he frequently hosted the staff at barbecues and other events. My dad also worked hard in the community, and he had a lot of loyalty.
When an energy crisis lead to a bad recession in the American West in the 1980s, he and his staff pivoted to make it through. My dad sat down with his staff, and they changed the entire restaurant menu, taking into account that people were struggling at the time with financial issues. They made the menu much more affordable for patrons, and made it through the recession by really understanding the customer and delivering on their needs.
Additionally, during those tough times and always, my dad took care of the people who worked for him, and essentially empowered them to bring great service to our customers. I learned so much from his work ethic, and got an early understanding that everyone on a team brings unique experience and expertise.
What are you most focused on at Evernorth?
At Evernorth, we are committed to creating a strong journey and experience for our patients. We bring together all of our capabilities – including behavioral health, disease management, prescription drug management, data, our networks and the facilities they encompass, as well as care delivery providers– to align on what consumers need holistically and empower them to live their best life.
For example, the need for behavioral services has never been greater, especially among young adults, and providing different ways to access mental health care services is a critical effort for us right now. We’re thinking about solutions where we are proactively reaching out, rather than being more reactive. At the same time, we’ve substantially expanded our behavioral network. Almost 320,000 providers are now in our network, and about 164,000 of them are virtual.
Young adults who are 18 to 26 might have coverage through their parents, but it’s a new dynamic for them. People in this age group frequently don’t really know how to navigate their health care needs, and without their consent, their parents can no longer be involved in their care.
We are supporting these young adults in a number of ways. For example, our predictive modeling can identify those at high risk of readmission for a substance use or mental health disorder, allowing us to address their needs with the right intervention proactively and in an appropriate way. We also provide coaching and support programs for young adults with a mental health or substance use diagnosis. In addition to working directly with the young adult, we reach out to get consent from the young adult to work with their parents or families in coaching.
You’re working closely with Evernorth clients. What are some of their biggest areas of interest from a health care standpoint?
An emerging area with growing interest among employers in is health care navigation. We work with employers to help them create their own culture of health and guide employees to their provider networks and additional services. Taking it one step further, we’re helping employers identify specific challenges they see across their employee population, such as obesity or bone and joint issues, and guide them toward services that will work best for their workforce. And, we are putting it all together in a unified digital experience for the customer with unified reporting for the employer.
When you’re off the clock, what’s your passion?
Travel and scuba diving – my husband and I are both advanced divers, and he’s a certified instructor. We have four children, two each from our previous marriages, ages 17 to 28. We try to visit a new place with our kids every year, disconnecting and having a great time.
Joan Harvey scuba diving