About Jim

If possible, today Jim Purcell is more engaged, passionate, and involved than ever.  He is a health speaker, futurist, and strategist.  Far more than an academic or researcher spinning theory after collecting interviews of others who actually are in the field, Jim draws from over thirty years of hands-on, management level healthcare industry experience and years of eating and breathing health, its care, and delivery reform.  He has written and spoken extensively on these topics, and has helped a major health system in Texas transform its financing and delivery models.  He also has developed a focused business model for workplace wellbeing that can delivery critical financial and competitive value to businesses.

490A8430Jim understands leadership, having been a leader for most of his life.  He was captain of his Cornell University baseball team; he was an Infantry, Airborne Pathfinder Team Leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Viet Nam 1969-70; he was the first managing partner of his 30 plus lawyer Providence, RI law firm; and he was board chair of a number of Rhode Island non profits including the Rhode Island Quality Institute, the state-wide HIE and health infomatics organization.

In 2000, he left his law firm to become Chief Operating Officer of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI (BCBSRI). In that capacity, he ceased practicing law and immersed himself in the business of BCBSRI and all of its intersections with the healthcare system and state and federal government. Every department reported to him, and he in turn reported to the CEO.

In 2004, Jim became Acting CEO, and after a national search, became permanent CEO, remaining in that position until mid-2011 when he retired. He’s credited with a several significant innovations and programs in RI healthcare, including:   (1) the reinvigoration of primary care through significant financial assistance to create patient centered medical homes, and the start of a sea change in the position of primary care in the delivery system;   (2)  the co-location and integration of behavioral and physical healthcare in primary care offices; (3)  the use of Electronic Medical Records and the creation of a Health Information Exchange; (4) the only insurer-representative to testify before Congress in favor of mental health parity; and (5) a state of the art employee and Board ethics, integrity, and compliance program.


Jim Purcell Farewell video

Rhode Island might be merely a 40×30 mile state with a million people, but it has all the healthcare problems larger states have.  As leader of BCBSRI, Jim had the opportunity not only to just observe, but also participate in the myriad relationships and workings of the RI healthcare system.  For eleven years, Jim was involved in virtually every significant healthcare issue, dispute, committee, and agency in RI.  And as a board member of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, he was a member of and chaired several strategic committees, interacting with fellow Blue CEOs and consultants.  Most importantly, Jim has led. While leading, he experienced successes and failures.  That comes with the leadership territory.  He understands leadership and the pressures faced by CEOs and Boards.  He’s been there and felt that.  While CEO of BCBSRI, Jim led efforts to change the strategic direction of BCBSRI from a traditional claims processing insurer to an integrated health manager working deeply with primary care, behavioral health, and employers.

Today, Jim helps companies map out new strategies in this seemingly impossible healthcare and employee environment. He focuses on both workplace wellbeing AND what companies should demand and receive from the healthcare delivery system and its insurers.  These are interrelated parts to the puzzle that seems yet unsolved for corporate America–what to do about your runaway health coverage expenses and our unhealthy and disengaged workforces. In addition to speaking and publishing, he leads retreats for organizational planning and retreats involving long-term health insurer strategies, wellness, wellbeing, and engagement, consulting and facilitating Board discussions and decisions regarding future strategic directions, particularly regarding employees and workplace wellness.

Jim is a regular columnist for the Providence Business News on healthcare delivery and wellness including a six-part series explaining how companies can use today’s healthcare challenges to their advantage. He also is a regular contributor and the Wellness Editor of thehealthcareblog.com, has a number of publications with the Harvard Business Review, and other publications.

Jim currently serves on the Boards of:

HopeHealth, Inc., the largest non profit hospice, palliative, and serious illness provider in Southeast Massachusetts and RI, chairing its Strategic Planning Committee;
Cape Abilities, Inc., an organization that has served adults with disabilities since 1968 on Cape Cod, chairing its Business Development Committee.

Purcell has, in the past, had the following Board involvement:
Chair and Board member of the Greater Providence YMCA;
Chair and Board member of the Rhode Island Quality Institute (the state designated RHIO);
Board member of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce;
Board member of Crossroads, RI (homeless);
Board member of RICJ (anti bigotry organization);
Board member of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, chair of its Emerging Issues Committee and member of its Health Policy and Legislative Committee and Administrative Committee;
Board member, Blue Health Intelligence, the Blues system data warehouse;
Board member of BCS Financial and Plans Liability Insurance Companies, captive finance and insurer of Blues system;
Board member of RI Public Expenditures Council.

Purcell has received the following awards:
Providence Business News Award for Individual Business Leadership Excellence (2005)
RICJ Award for Community and Justice (2010)
Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce of Rhode Island, Corporate Leader of the Year Award (2010)
Gateway Healthcare Community Leadership Award (2011)
New England Council Shining Star Award (2011)

Click here to download the article: Jim Purcell: Blue Cross’ tough new CEO in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine