2010 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Dijuana Lewis

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President and CEO, WellPoint's Comprehensive Health Solutions Business Unit

Sphere of Influence: Lewis has been responsible for health insurance giant WellPoint’s provider relations, care and disease management, information management, personal health guidance companies, and its pharmacy solutions group. Most of the company’s plans for saving money through increased efficiency have fallen under her purview. Lewis is leaving WellPoint at the end of the year, but she plans to stay in Indianapolis, where she will no doubt continue to play a role in health care. Lewis also remains dedicated to fundraising for various arts and human services organizations.

Lewis (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

In the many twists and turns leading to health care reform, one thing has remained constant: insurers have tried to lower prices by emphasizing preventive care and scrutinizing expenses. The point person in that effort at WellPoint, the nation’s largest commercial health insurer by membership, has been Dijuana Lewis—a 16-year veteran of the company.

Lewis, 51, has had oversight of the company’s cost-cutting initiatives, from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s “pay for performance” program that rewards primary care physicians whose patients receive recommended care and preventive screenings, to American Imaging Management software systems, which examines whether CT scans and other imaging techniques are medically necessary.

Throughout her tenure, which ends Dec. 31, Lewis has had wide-ranging responsibility for numerous programs focused on cost-cutting and preventive care. Additionally, she was responsible for the oversight and direction of all quality improvement initiatives; and physician, hospital and ancillary contracting.

Not surprisingly, Lewis is used to keeping long hours—as is her select team of work associates. “Much of my success can be attributed to the team of wonderful, smart, dedicated people I have had the good fortune to work with over the years,” Lewis said. “I credit my work ethic and firm but fair and compassionate leadership style to my upbringing in rural Indiana, where my parents helped ground me in the values that continue to serve me well both personally and professionally.”

Lewis received a Bachelor of Science degree from IU and her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. “Coming from a small town on the Indiana-Kentucky border, where I was raised, the only way I was going to get anywhere in life was to simply make it happen,” she said. “I believe any of us can achieve what we truly desire, but we have to be willing to work hard without boundaries.”

At WellPoint, Lewis has had the opportunity to help shape the future of health care for generations to come. It’s a rough and tumble business, but one her colleagues say she handled diplomatically.

“I have found that being tough and professional are not mutually exclusive,” Lewis said. “We all have a job to do, but it is how we do it that sets us apart. I have been blessed to have learned from some of the best negotiators in the business.”

When she isn’t in the boardroom, Lewis enjoys spending time with her family: husband Mark, son Tyler, 21, an IU student, and daughter Courtney, 19, a student at San Diego State University. She’s also an avid art collector. “I enjoy being surrounded by eclectic pieces that remind me of some place my family and I have been fortunate to visit,” she said. “I also get enormous pleasure from supporting the talents of artists.”

After leaving WellPoint, Lewis expects to spend more time supporting arts organizations and groups that focus on the health, education and quality of life of children.

Among her passions is the March of Dimes, which honored her at a major fundraising event in August because of her work on the organization’s behalf. On the arts front, she is a board member and fundraiser for the Indianapolis Opera.

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