Considering Surgery? Communication is Key | Blue Cross Blue Shield

Considering Surgery? Communication is Key

BlueCross BlueShield First-to-Market in Offering Surgery Decision-Making Program

BUFFALO – It’s estimated that 48 million people undergo surgery each year in the United States and preparation plays a significant role in their overall experience and recovery process.

The decision to have surgery is a significant one; especially as more and more individuals enroll in health insurance plans that include high deductibles and potentially greater out of pocket costs.

With more than 1 in 4 members now enrolled in a high deductible health plan, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has launched the region’s first program designed to help members deciding on, preparing for, and recovering from surgeries.

“When considering a surgical procedure, shared decision making and open communication with your doctor is an important step to ensure you receive the care that’s right for you,” said Jennifer Johengen-Vogel, Senior Director, Health Management, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. “This leading tool will help our members ask the right questions and feel more comfortable throughout the surgery process.”

BlueCross BlueShield partnered with Welvie, an innovative surgery decision-support company, to provide eligible Commercial and Medicare Advantage members a no-cost, online program.

Based on their personal state of health, members have the opportunity to learn what treatment options are available, what questions they should be asking their doctor, what they can expect once a surgical procedure has been confirmed and what they can do to ensure a speedy recovery.

Since BlueCross BlueShield launched the program in November 2017, over 6,000 BlueCross BlueShield members are already using the leading online tool to make informed decisions.

Welvie is an interactive program that engages members through six-steps:

  • Get the right diagnosis - Members develop a list of questions to make the most of the time with their doctor and ensure they share all the information critical to reaching the right diagnosis.
  • Choose the right doctor - This step prepares people to interview and select the right surgeon. Members compose interview questions specific to their circumstances. Viewing mock interviews helps them overcome any nervousness or reluctance to interview the surgeons they're considering.
  • Make a decision - Along with their doctors, members investigate all of their options, surgical and non-surgical. They evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each and decide which option is best for them.
  • Surgery locations - Different surgery locations, in-patient and out-patient, are discussed. Members also learn about the important role of the anesthesiologist.
  • Prepare for surgery - Members generate to do lists and fill in event calendars to help them track all their pre-surgery appointments and procedures. Welvie sends reminder alerts to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Recover at home - Members prepare their homes in advance so they can safely return post-surgery when they may have limited mobility. Members and their doctors fill out an activity timeline when they can expect to return to different types of physical activity.

“Even if surgery isn’t in your immediate future, we encourage members to take a look, so they will be prepared if they are faced with making a surgery-related decision in the future,” added Vogel.

BlueCross BlueShield’s eligible Commercial and Medicare Advantage members can visit to get started. For questions or assistance enrolling in the free program, members can contact Welvie Customer Service by calling toll-free 1-877-386-6556, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., CST or e-mailing

Eligible members will receive a $25 gift card within 15-30 days of completing Steps 1-3 of the program plus a short survey. Each eligible member will qualify for the reward once a year; however, members may use the program as often as they like.

About BlueCross BlueShield of WNY
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a division of HealthNow New York Inc., an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Since 1936, BlueCross BlueShield has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. BlueCross BlueShield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as life and disability coverage, dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, BlueCross BlueShield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of our community.

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About Welvie
Welvie is a leading surgery decision-support company. Its robust shared decision-making product – including surgery analytics, comprehensive outreach and decision-support program – helps consumers make more fully informed decisions about surgery. Additionally, the program helps health plans, employers and government agencies in improving outcomes for patients, whether they choose surgery or not. For more information about Welvie, visit


About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.