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IBX Insights

Independence and Jefferson Health Are Innovating For Change in Health Care

By January 20, 2017August 23rd, 2021Innovation

Philadelphia is widely recognized as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and Jefferson Health — two organizations with long-standing traditions of leading change in our region — have forged a strategic relationship to reinvent health care access and delivery by helping to create solutions to some of the industry’s biggest challenges.

Our incredible innovation collaboration includes an annual hackathon, a speakers series, and an entrepreneurs-in-residence program:

Tackling Health Care Challenges with Technology

The second Independence/Jefferson Health Hack was a three-day event that focused on patient engagement, connected health, and virtual/augmented reality.

More than 300 people ranging in age, experience, and expertise came to the Hamilton Building on Jefferson’s campus to pitch their ideas, join teams, and work through the weekend to “hack health” — coming up with innovative ways to solve complex health care challenges.

We’re especially excited because five of our own Independence employees are among this year’s Health Hack finalists, including one of our nurse Health Coaches. Her team designed a safety feature for medical devices to reduce contamination and prevent costly infections.

Promoting Innovation through Diverse Insights

Our Jefferson Health Speakers Series is open to Independence employees as well as Jefferson employees and students. The featured speakers have diverse backgrounds and knowledge of the health care industry.

Each half-day session is held at our Independence Center for Health Care Innovation and includes hands-on activities to help attendees learn about design thinking, testing ideas, prototyping them, and iteration to keep improving. Attendees leave with knowledge about innovation resources that complement our own Human-Centered InnovationSM toolkit.

We recently hosted Bon Ku, who teaches design thinking principles to medical students at Jefferson, and a team from Philly’s NextFab makerspace.

Supporting New Ideas to Improve Health Care

We’re also collaborating with Jefferson on an Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, which provides financial support to clinicians and researchers working on promising discoveries.

The first two teams we selected for this program last March are doing really cool work around epilepsy research and bone graft infection.

One team is working on an extensive database of 3-D brain images to allow surgeons across the country view and learn more about where epileptic seizures are occurring in the brain, in order to intervene more accurately and less invasively.

The other team is identifying the right formula for adhering an antibiotic to bone implants to extend the release of the antibiotic into the patient’s bloodstream, therefore decreasing the risk of infection. Once the formula is complete, clinical trials will begin.

Stay Up to Date on Independence Innovation Events

As a member of the Independence innovation team, I love being able to meet new people and learn about these incredible advances in health care.

And one of the best things is that most of our innovation events are open to everyone! Email us at to join our mailing list for event updates, and be the first to know when and where you can engage with us.


Anna Johnsrud

As a member of the Corporate Development and Innovation team at Independence Blue Cross (IBX), Anna has been involved in advancing the organization’s human-centered innovation approach through leading project teams through IBX’s methodology to solve critical challenges, assisting in the creation of programming, and ensuring communication of key innovation activities. Anna knows and understands the importance of keeping our members at the center of all we do. She loves using creativity and energy to tackle anything that comes her way. She has been with IBX since 2008 in a variety of roles in Strategy and Corporate Planning before joining the Innovation team in 2012.