Vijay Bhatt: Engineering Inclusion at Harvard Pilgrim

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By Andre LaFontant

Wellesley, MA — Innovation is the steady heartbeat for conducting business at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC), and Vijay Bhatt, HPHC’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer, is one reason they never skip a beat. “I have thorough health insurance business knowledge that is necessary to align technology-related decisions [with] Harvard Pilgrim goals,” declares Bhatt, “which means I have a great understanding of our claims management, our wider contact management, and our care management systems.”

The innovation goals that Mr. Bhatt alludes to center upon the specific needs of the various communities Harvard Pilgrim serves. “Studies have shown that there are community-specific, genetic conditions which need individualized treatment methods. The Indian community, for example, is at greater risk [for] clogged arteries, compared to other ethnicities, due to narrower arteries;” Bhatt explains, “Therefore, necessary steps in specific preventative care strategies must take shape. We have developed a center for innovation that focuses on identifying, evaluating, and implementing new and emerging technologies, to improve the quality of our members’ healthcare programs in an intentional and nuanced way.”

Vijay Bhatt reveals that their “inclusion marketplace effort” discovered a growing interest in holistic eastern medicine practices across a cross-section of core members.  This led to their development of Eastern Harmony, a program merging traditional western and eastern health strategies, to best serve Harvard Pilgrim’s members. Harvard Pilgrim’s Wellness Program echoes the desire to provide its members, as well as employees, with individualized services. As an executive sponsor, Bhatt leads the push to advocate and become ambassadors to communities, to spread more thoughtful wellness practices.

To promote these innovative practices, Bhatt leans on his thorough business acumen and background in software engineering. With a Masters in Computational Geometry from Cranfield University, Bhatt is equipped to problem solve in domains such as Large Scale Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. “My background gave me a jump start in the field of Software Engineering. Geometrical information—shape and size—are important components in medicine, biotechnology, and materials science,” he explains.

“Emotional intelligence, an additional essential piece to the puzzle, is key to developing an open-minded approach toward innovation and inclusion within any given industry,” Bhatt continues. “Harvard Pilgrim’s core values fit in [with] improving an individual’s emotional intelligence. We demonstrate high levels of integrity and trust that become the core of our relationship with our constituents.”