On Dec. 28, 1999, Wangsik Min – Wang to his friends – landed in the U.S. for the first time.
It was the first international travel for the South Korea native and graphic designer, whose journey took him from Seoul to Tokyo, on to Atlanta, and finally to a very cold Chattanooga.
He was partially prepared for the cold – his uncle and cousins had emigrated to nearby Ringgold, Ga. several years earlier, and had given some advance warning. He was caught a bit off guard by a nation in the throes of Y2K mania.
“It was bad timing, maybe,” Wang reflects with a laugh. “But I rushed to get here before Y2K happened. I spent 30 years in Korea, and after 30 years I thought, ‘You know what? Maybe I want to see something else.’ And it’s all worked out.”
Work has always been a major theme in Wang’s life thanks to his own strong ethic, ambition and a love for creating with his own hands. Even with a degree in graphic design, he remains passionate about the tactile nature of creation and problem-solving.
“When I started college in Korea in 1991, everything was still rooted primarily in hand-drawing,” he says. “And I love that aspect of design. I still draw a lot of stuff in my notepad at work. It’s easy to see flows and connections between objects if I draw them on paper. Some people call it my mad scientist drawing.”
Like many other immigrants, Wang came to the U.S. in search of better opportunity. When his Ringgold-based family members visited Korea, he would hear all about how much they enjoyed living in the southern states.
After completing two and a half years of military service in Korea – mandatory at that time for all young men – then obtaining his degree and working for an advertising agency, Wang finally booked that long flight.
Not long after he deplaned, he enrolled in an English-as-a-second-language class at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Then, thanks to his graphic design and ad agency background, he was hired by a local printing company, where he’d remain for 13 years.
It was at the print shop he met Barry Setlich, now a manager of digital experience at BlueCross.
“Me and Barry worked together for a couple of years,” Wang recalls. “One day, after he left the print shop for BlueCross, he emailed me and said, ‘Hey, will you send me your resume? We’re looking for a digital campaign analyst.’”
Barry knew Wang to be an innovative thinker.
“When I met Wang, he already had long history of composing process enhancements and leveraging new tools to make the print company more profitable,” Barry says. “His fluency with technology and drive to make things better are a rare find, but his real superpower is his positivity. You will rarely hear him say ‘no.’”
After Barry came to BlueCross, he encouraged Wang to apply for a digital campaign analyst position. Wang admits that at the time he didn’t know what the position would entail, but it turned out to be a unique opportunity that would utilize his skill set.
Mechanics of member health awareness
Wang joined BlueCross in 2016, and quickly found that his passion for hands-on creation served him – and more importantly, our members – well. This is particularly true for our preventive health campaigns, projects for which he comes in at the developer level and devotes most of his time.
One such project is the member scorecard, a personalized direct-mail piece and the brainchild of our Total Health Management clinical team. Typically sent beginning each spring to every adult, teen or child member in need of a screening, exam or vaccination based on gender, age and existing chronic conditions, this self-evaluation is completed by the member for their own health awareness.
The “scoring” aspect serves as a reminder for screenings like:
- Breast cancer (mammogram)
- Cervical cancer screening (Pap test)
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Retinal eye exam (diabetes)
- HbA1c testing (diabetes)
- Urine test for protein (diabetes)
This project is intended as a way for members to not only conveniently keep track of needed screenings, but also as a tangible piece to be brought to their next provider visit. Our data might show a significant time gap between provider visits, which triggers a notification within BlueCross to contact the member.
“We want members to be able to use this information as a means to talk with their providers,” Wang says. “I’m provided the most up-to-date member data and use that to create a personalized hierarchy specific to their health conditions.”
“The scorecard reminds members to get screened, which helps them in the long run. Members can help prevent serious disease by taking a more active role in their health.”
An ever-evolving approach to preventive health
When working with our clinical teams to build tools to improve members’ health, Wang must work carefully to present information that’s easy to comprehend. He’s the first to admit that that can present its own challenge, but one he embraces.
“We want to encourage members to play an active role in their health, but listing all recommended screenings and why they’re necessary can be a lot of information in one piece,” he says. “My job from a design standpoint is to make sure we’re not trying to squeeze too much in there, and to ensure members are compelled to read it, keep it, and take action from it.”
“Every year I’m looking at multiple ways to make these campaigns better and someone’s life easier. That’s fun for me.”
Part of that challenge involves rethinking the mechanics of our preventive health campaigns – and whether they require a paper element at all. In 2019, Wang and his team are looking at ways to approach these projects from a strictly digital angle, taking into account member preferences and capabilities in that area.
Making time for family near and far
Though he’ll celebrate 20 years living in the States this year – he officially became a U.S. citizen in 2010– Wang has no grand plans to recognize the milestone. The pleasures he derives from life outside of the office are simple: fishing, hiking, basic carpentry, and going to Sunday morning movies with his daughters Rachel, 15, and Alexis, 5.
Along with his wife, Myra, the family occasionally travels back to Korea, usually every four and five years, and most recently in the summer of 2018.
For that trip, Wang’s family took advantage of summer break from school and left a month and half before him. He used that opportunity to wrap up work on the 2018 scorecard.
“I caught up with them at the end of the trip,” Wang says with a laugh. “We ate plenty of fresh seafood, which is what my daughter was most excited about, and I caught up with some old friends. But first I had to finish what I started.”