At Blue Shield of California, we’re celebrating women leaders who are working to transform the healthcare system. Our 2023 Women Transforming Health Care series kicks off today, highlighting Blue Shield executives who have made an extraordinary impact on our company and the healthcare industry.
Learn about the initiatives they have led – including advances in technology, youth mental health, and preventive care – along with what excites them most about the future of health care.
Angie Kalousek-Ebrahimi is the senior director of Lifestyle Medicine at Blue Shield of California and has been with the company for 13 years. Angie and her team are bringing a whole-person approach to health care through Wellvolution, a platform that provides a variety of programs focused on lifestyle to help prevent, treat, and reverse chronic conditions.
Have you always worked in health care?
No, but I was always interested in my health and very proactive about it. I come from a family of healthcare practitioners - my father was a doctor, my mom a nurse, and my sister a physical therapist.
I received my undergraduate degree in business administration and subsequently an MBA. I worked in a variety of roles, including hospitality, sales, and marketing. The pivotal moment that began my career in health care started when a co-worker asked me, “If you could do anything in the world or be in any industry, what would it be?” Without skipping a beat, I said, “health care,” and she responded, “So what are you doing here?” That was a major “aha” moment, and I started work on my nutrition and fitness certifications. Three months later, I quit my job and began work in the fitness industry.
What brought you to Blue Shield of California?
Prior to Blue Shield, I was a director at a large luxury fitness club at the Four Seasons in San Francisco, where we were creating programs to help people become healthier via exercise and nutrition. I was also a personal trainer, and one of the people I trained was the chief executive officer of Visa.
As we got to know each other, he learned of my business background and asked if I would like to become the wellness director at Visa. It was a great opportunity for me to go from the micro-approach of 1:1 counseling, to more of a macro-approach by helping employees on the road to better health. I did that for a couple of years, and we implemented some fantastic programs, but I was hungry to make an even bigger impact. That’s when a job opportunity at Blue Shield popped up.
What is a recent, transformative accomplishment by your team?
First, I have to call out that my team is amazing. It’s full of inspirational people from every walk of life, who are so brilliant, talented, and hard-working. Second, I feel incredibly proud that we have created the Wellvolution platform. This idea that lifestyle has the power not only to prevent, but also treat and reverse chronic conditions is incredible. Through Wellvolution, Blue Shield members can access programs to transform their lifestyles, and in doing so, transform their health. That is revolutionary.
How has Wellvolution impacted Blue Shield members?
I think it’s safe to say that Wellvolution has had a major impact on the lives of participating members. Specifically, many enrolled in a Wellvolution diabetes program have reversed their Type 2 diabetes, eliminating the need for some, if not all, of the medications they were taking. This is significant, not only from a cost-savings lens, but also because it avoids multiple side effects caused by diabetes medications. In addition to reversing diabetes, members are losing weight, sleeping better, and experiencing more energy throughout the day. Increased energy leads to more exercise, improved strength and increased healthspan, which is the number of years lived while healthy. It’s a virtuous cycle that only exists when we address the root causes of disease. The most important thing we can do to help our members achieve these results is to ensure that they all know about the no-cost Wellvolution programs.
What is the most important thing your team will do to transform health care?
We are advancing several important initiatives right now. We continue to add new programs to Wellvolution, including a suite of musculoskeletal programs and “food as medicine” for members struggling with food insecurity. To broaden the reach of Wellvolution, we are working to offer it in Spanish. The possibilities are endless – and exciting!