Yasmine Winkler: The Evolutionary

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Yasmine Winkler, Central Region CEO & CCO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State. Photo: Sheila Barabad

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s the very trait that has given Yasmine Winkler her drive. The UnitedHealthcare executive says she has not stopped learning since the day she started and finds inspiration all around her.

And UnitedHealthcare (UHC) has put her in a position to do just that—giving her a dual role and a job title that needs more than one line. She is the CEO for the central region and the chief consumer officer (CCO), for UHC Community & State. As CEO, she focuses on UHC’s Medicaid business on a regional basis. As CCO, she steers and maintains the company’s customer centricity nationwide.

“It’s not about titles, though,” she says. “I’m motivated to conquer new ideas that I think have the potential to help the organization—and ultimately lead the industry. I raise my hand a lot, because I relish the opportunity to contribute the knowledge I’ve gained on my journey and I feel energized by learning new things that could change or expand my point of view.”

She credits people she worked for early on, people she says were entrepreneurial by nature and willing to experiment. Then there is the fact that Winkler simply likes being busy. She has been juggling a dual role that has her working on two levels, but she says one feeds into the other.

“In my role as CEO for the central region, focusing on the consumer is part of what I do every day,” Winkler says. “That gives me more credibility as CCO because I’m so close to the consumer in my other role. The two jobs are not mutually exclusive in any way.”

In her CEO role, she has immersed herself in the overall tectonic shift in healthcare to be more consumer-driven.

“I make sure I’m thinking about how the consumer can take charge of their own healthcare and what that means through their lens, not ours,” she says.

Her efforts to formalize the consumer-centric approach are helping the business run more smoothly. Case-in-point is a new health plan launched in Iowa in April 2016. She described the process as “noiseless.”

“I’m motivated to conquer new ideas that I think have the potential to help the organization—and ultimately lead the industry.”

Yasmine Winkler

“It was a huge deal with about 190,000 or so members all coming online on April 1,” she said. “We were able to make sure that we were ready, willing and able to serve these new members.”

Winkler said she is also proud of the February 2016 launch of the myCommunity Connect Center in Maryvale, AZ, the first of its kind for the UnitedHealthcare myConnections business. The Center is a partnership with Chicanos Por La Causa, a not-for-profit that provides assistance to disadvantaged individuals regardless of ethnic origin.

“If you can bring together the social health approach with clinical health for those at higher risk, you have the ability to lower medical costs and improve health outcomes,” she says.

That’s just the kind of change that keeps Winkler’s mind focused on ways she can help America’s healthcare system improve. Good thing she likes keeping busy.  

YASMINE WINKLER’S HABITS FOR SUCCESS

NEVER STOP QUESTIONING
“I am an insatiably curious person. I try to maintain curiosity even when my instinct says something may be a bad idea.”

STAY IN COMMUNICATION
“I’m really specific in making sure I’m touching base with my team members. Not all day every day, but I have one-on-ones with them. It’s really important to make sure your people know they have a place to go if they need a different perspective to solve a problem.”

MAKE ROOM FOR FUN
“Having fun is important and injecting that into the tenor of our meetings helps everyone relax and feel they can have the conversation they need to have.”