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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's 'Promoting Healthcare Quality Program' Improves Quality and Patient Safety in 19 Colorado Hospitals

DENVER, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Promoting Healthcare Quality (PHQ) program, which the company launched in 2003, began with a basic assumption: If hospitals were offered incentives that would enable them to improve quality outcomes and meet certain performance standards, the quality and safety of care for patients would improve. Now in its fifth year, hard evidence is in place to support that assumption.


-- Of the 19 hospitals participating in this voluntary program, the

overall average score increased from 81 to 92 percent.

-- Five of the hospitals increased their total scores by more than 20


-- Five of the hospitals scored 100 percent in the most recent measurement


-- One hospital reduced its inpatient mortality rate for heart attack

patients from 6.9 percent to 2.4 percent.

-- One hospital improved its pneumococcal vaccination rate from 35 percent

to 96 percent for patients with Community Acquired Pneumonia. Another

improved from 55 percent to 93 percent.

-- Overall, ninety-two percent of patients hospitalized with pneumonia

received smoking cessation advice - a significant increase from the 53

percent who received this advice during the first year of the program.

Anthem's PHQ program came about as the result of the 2000 publication of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) ground-breaking report, "To Err is Human " which cited as many as 98,000 deaths annually from medical errors and called for a national effort to make health care safer. Anthem was the first health benefits company in the state to introduce this kind of program and has since been recognized as a leader in expanding reimbursement for clinical excellence and improved medical outcomes, rather than limiting it only to delivery of medical services.

PHQ offers hospitals incentives, including financial, for achieving measurable improvements in the areas of patient safety and health outcomes, including such measures as pneumococcal vaccination rate, provision of aspirin and beta blockers for patients suffering a heart attack, computerized physician order entry systems and ICU staffing. Success is measured by assigning values for compliance with recommended patient safety standards, implementation of systems and processes to meet these standards, and improvements in clinical outcomes.

"Good relationships with participating hospitals are at the core of PHQ's success," said Mike Ramseier, VP, Health Care Management, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "Working collaboratively, we have been able to achieve improvement in several areas. This means better, safer care for every patient who receives medical care at these institutions. That's something we all can be proud of."

"Anthem and PHQ participating hospitals both win as a result of being a part of the program," said Donna Kusuda, VP Quality and Patient Safety, HCA- HealthONE. "While health care providers strive to do the right thing for their patients, putting new systems and processes in place that can enable providers to deliver safer, higher quality services can be challenging. PHQ helps accelerate the timeline for achieving key patient quality and safety goals."

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP). WellPoint's mission is to improve the lives of the people it serves and the health of its communities. WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of commercial membership in the United States. Through its nationwide networks, the company delivers a number of leading health benefit solutions through a broad portfolio of integrated health care plans and related services, along with a wide range of specialty products such as life and disability insurance benefits, pharmacy benefit management, dental, vision, behavioral health benefit services, as well as long term care insurance and flexible spending accounts. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as Empire Blue Cross or Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado
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