Blue Shield of California and Venus Williams’ team to fight stigma in healthcare


Blue Shield of California is tackling stigma in healthcare with the help of tennis star Venus Williams.

The insurer is teaming up with the seven-time Grand Slam winner for the “Hear Me” campaign, which aims to make the voices of women heard on their experiences of combating racial and gender prejudices in the healthcare system, Blue Shield. announcement this week.

In addition to Williams, the women featured in the campaign include an ovarian cancer survivor and a woman who will discuss her struggles with a recent pregnancy, especially in light of disturbing data on black maternal health issues.

Suzanne Buffington, senior director of marketing at Blue Shield, told Fierce Healthcare that women may not feel heard by their providers when seeking healthcare.

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“We want to be able to harness Venus to encourage people to tell their stories, but also to encourage people to stand up for their own health,” Buffington said. “If you don’t feel heard, let a supplier know. “

Williams will be collaborating with Blue Shield over the next year on a multitude of topics, including Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease she suffers from, mental health, black maternal health, fitness and wellness. .

“Sadly, many women, including myself, have felt rejected, ignored or even faced with judgment when seeking answers about their health,” Williams said in a statement. “It is important that we speak out and that our stories are told. I am grateful that I have found answers to my health concerns, and I want to help other women to do the same.

The Hear Me campaign is part of the larger “Who We Stand For Sets Us Apart” effort, which celebrates the strength and achievements of women. Other attendees include Chelsea Werner, a quadruple Special Olympics gymnastics champion, a Latina trauma nurse, a military veteran and a ballet dancer who is in her 60s.

Buffington said Blue Shield planned this work before COVID-19, but the pandemic has placed even more emphasis on health disparities.

She said the team then worked to take the existing concept “with the lens of COVID.”

“We already knew the disparities existed, and it was truly an opportunity to seize what was even higher during COVID and continue to tell that story through this campaign,” said Buffington.

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