September 2017 | Q&A Spotlight

Creating a customer-obsessed health plan: Talking with Curtis Kopf of Premera

Creating a customer-obsessed health plan: Talking with Curtis Kopf of Premera

One of the best things about our profession is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many talented and interesting people at our clients and in the community. This series introduces some of the executives with whom we work and spotlights the ways they are leading and making their mark, both personally and professionally.

Curtis Kopf is senior vice president of customer experience for Premera Blue Cross, a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest that provides comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 employees. Curtis joined Premera Blue Cross in 2015 to oversee efforts that support the company’s goal of being a customer-obsessed health plan. He previously was an executive with Amazon, Microsoft and Alaska Airlines.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in your industry today?

I listen to customers every day, and I know they struggle with the cost and complexity of our healthcare system. I came to Premera because I want to be a part of fixing this – by helping us become the most customer-obsessed health plan on the planet.

What trends in the local market are you most excited about?

The talent. We are incredibly lucky to live in Seattle, surrounded by innovation and some of the most customer-centric companies in the world – be it Amazon, Nordstrom, Costco or Alaska Airlines. More and more of these smart people are attracted to opportunities to make people’s lives better by working at places like Premera. I am so excited by the talent we have been able to bring to Premera to tackle healthcare’s biggest problems.

How are you using technology to improve the way your business runs?

Healthcare is undergoing a technology transformation. There is so much opportunity. Right now, for instance, Premera is working to provide easy-to-use self-service through our web sites and new mobile app. We also are using technology to automate back-office processes so that we provide a more convenient and easy experience. When it comes to listening, we are using advanced analytics to gain deeper insight from customer feedback. In all of these programs, we are applying techniques like design thinking and extreme programming to move more quickly and create customer-centric solutions.

Technology is an ever-evolving subject. Which local business organizations or local events do you attend to stay connected to the community?

In Seattle, we are all two degrees of separation from each other. I attend a few round tables but generally prefer to informally connect with my peers who work at many of the great companies here. We have so much to learn from each other.

One of West Monroe’s core values is social responsibility, and we know Premera also has a strong commitment to giving back. What’s one community activity your company is doing that you’re most excited about? 

I am very excited that Premera has created Premera Social Impact, which aims to make healthcare work better by addressing behavioral health issues, particularly in underserved communities. On the personal side, I have been involved in Big Brothers, Big Sisters since I was a teenager. I am currently board chairman for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Puget Sound and am very grateful that Premera has been a strong supporter of the children in our community.

What’s your favorite thing about Seattle?

It’s hard to pick one! I’m an East Coast transplant who has been here 17 years. Personally, I love the stunning natural beauty, the friendly people and the great food and culture. Professionally, I feel blessed to live in one of the most innovative and progressive cities in the world – one that is literally redefining how people live their lives!  

Explore our latest perspectives