Dr. Cara Christ
Chief Medical Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Industry: Health Insurance
Dr. Cara Christ has a well-rounded view of Arizona health care, serving as a clinician and executive within the industry. She helped lead Arizona’s COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts as director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Late in 2021, she shifted to a new role as Chief Medical Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
“Although there have been many lessons I have learned throughout my time as a leader, the most important one has been to assemble a team that is smarter than myself,” Christ said.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona offers health insurance and related services to more than 1.9 million customers. BCBSAZ, a nonprofit company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The company and its subsidiaries employ more than 2,500 people in its Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson offices.
“My aim is to enlist multiple levers to stand up for affordability,” Christ said. “There are so many ways to inspire health and make it easy: updating contracts to ensure healthcare affordability for our members; implementing programs to improve health outcomes in chronic diseases, such as diabetes and behavioral health; simplifying ways to test and treat COVID-19; and working with our Foundation for Community and Health Advancement to implement programs to ensure health equity and invest in the health of our state.”
Christ spearheaded Arizona’s efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. When the pandemic hit, Christ worked closely with fellow health experts, businesses, schools and healthcare institutions to limit the spread of the virus and distribute vaccines to as many Arizonans as possible.
She held regular briefings to update the public on the latest information to ensure Arizonans remained informed about the virus. She was responsible for leading a team that administered more than 1.6 million vaccine doses at state-operated mass vaccination centers. Scheduling second vaccination appointments, updating traffic flow and implementing a Spanish version of a COVID-19 resource website were also part of Christ’s work.
Christ also helped launch the Pandemic Recovery and Resiliency Plan as part of the Arizona Health Improvement Plan. Her work provided more than 1,300 traveling nurses to hospitals during COVID-19 surges and implemented a real-time dashboard of COVID-19 data. Under her leadership, the state launched the Vaccine Management System that managed more than 1,700 events and registered 2.6 million appointments, earning Arizona recognition as one of the top three states in the U.S. for ensuring equity in vaccinations.
Dr. Christ has a strong focus on her health as well, running mainly to relieve stress and stay fit. She is also a HUGE fan of everything Disney! She's managed to combine the health benefits of running with her and her family’s love of Disney. They like to plan trips around Disney’s big half marathon weekends. She has also received her Ducktorate, in Professional Development Studies, Disney Style Management from the Disney Institute.