BCBSIL Institute for Physician Diversity

While our nation continues its trajectory to greater racial and ethnic diversity, our physician workforce does not reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our nation today. The state of Illinois is not an exception, where African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are underrepresented in the physician workforce.

What is BCBSIL doing?

As part of our broader health equity strategy, BCBSIL has launched the Institute for Physician Diversity (IPD). This first-of-its kind effort aims to strategically partner a health insurance payer with academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, and not-for-profit associations to achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity in the physician workforce.

“Our physician workforce does not represent the racial and ethnic diversity of our state and this issue is not unique to Illinois.  We have an obligation as a health insurer to help accelerate the efforts of our medical education community to address this structural disparity,” said Dr. Derek J. Robinson, vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

What is the goal?

The IPD will serve as a national model for addressing the systemic underrepresentation of minorities in medicine through leadership and collaboration between academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, pipeline programs, non-profit organizations, and philanthropic leaders.

The IPD will work with hospitals and academic medical centers under the pilot program to accelerate the recruitment of medical students, resident physicians, and clinical faculty who are underrepresented in medicine.  Efforts will embrace effective practices and guidance from national organizations, including the AAMC and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) such as the importance of implicit bias education along the medical education continuum, including staff and leaders, and the commitment of the organization’s senior leadership to achieve improved outcomes.

This program builds on and helps advance work already underway with providers to increase health equity, including:

  • Launching the Health Equity Hospital Quality Incentive Pilot Program, a $100M effort with the immediate objective to support hospitals serving the highest concentrations of BCBSIL members in Illinois communities who are often most at risk of contracting COVID-19 and, in the long term, improving the quality of care by elevating a focus on health equity and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in care.
  • Teaming with the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE)  on a grant program to support the work of 13 Illinois hospitals and health care organizations in reducing disparities in health care. Awards between $25,000 and $100,000 are being used to support new programs designed to help the awardees eliminate an identified health care disparity in their local communities and work toward ensuring safe, equitable and high-quality health care for all their patients.
  • Funding cultural competency and implicit bias education, as well as providing incentives for providers in value-based care arrangements to complete the trainings.
  • Partnering with providers across the state in high health disparate communities to increase flu vaccines and childhood immunizations as well as other important screenings through the BCBSIL Care Van program.

Check back for updates on IPD committee members and progress on current initiatives.