5 questions with Katie O'Hare

This month, we sit down with our new director of broker relations & RFP to get her thoughts on why she joined Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, how to ensure successful broker relationships, and more.

Where are you joining BCBSRI from, and what were your responsibilities there?I joined BCBSRI in mid-July as the director of broker relations & RFP. For the past five years, I was in a similar role at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. My responsibilities included overseeing broker operations and communicating strategic initiatives and broker compensation plan strategy. The sales territory included New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Before MVP, I worked with a number of regional insurers in upstate New York, and I also consulted for many years.

What brought you to Rhode Island and, specifically, to Blue Cross?I came across this position and thought it was a wonderful opportunity. Blue Cross is such a widely known and respected brand in healthcare, so I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to learning all about this market. In addition, I’ve always said that when my daughter was grown and moved out on her own, I wanted to move to Rhode Island to be closer to the ocean and to family in Connecticut. Well, she recently graduated from college…so the timing was just right.

In your past experience, what tools have helped you ensure success working with brokers?My previous role and my consulting experience have given me a good perspective on working with brokers. The way I see it, my role is like a bridge between BCBSRI and our brokers. We share some of the same goals and want the same things…to maintain our current customers and bring in new ones.

The key to making it a great partnership is listening to brokers about their challenges and their suggestions for what might make their jobs easier. I want to create an environment where they can easily and comfortably tell us what they need, while keeping BCBSRI’s perspective in mind. It’s a true give and take that requires communication, honesty—that means sharing good news as well as bad news—and trust. I’m committed to finding out what’s on our brokers’ minds and meeting with them to discuss ways to give them what they need.

What’s the single most important thing we can do to help our brokers be successful?It’s important for us to be as easy to do business with as possible, and to genuinely care about what our brokers are looking for and what they need. We should always make sure we treat them as true sales partners.

If you weren’t in healthcare, what would you be doing instead?Great question! I'm interested in providing direct service related to animal-assisted healing therapy. It is so common now for us to see animals (often canines) used in hospitals, assisted living facilities, schools, universities, and even the workplace as a form of restoring emotional balance and comfort. I don't think there is one person who hasn't at some point in their lives been inspired and reminded of the bond we share with animals.