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Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Holds Forum to Explore Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Initiatives

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) convened a forum today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss how insurers, doctors and hospitals are working together to improve healthcare quality and patient safety. Representatives from the Premier Inc. healthcare alliance, Duke University Health System, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and WellPoint, Inc., participated in the event.

"Today's forum provides an opportunity to showcase the innovative ways insurers and providers are working together to develop and implement successful practices for delivering patient care that is both safe and effective," said Allan Korn, MD, BCBSA senior vice president and chief medical officer. "Our goal is to accelerate change in decreasing the risk of potential harm to patients in the clinical setting. As today's event demonstrates, this is a shared commitment between the Blues and all healthcare stakeholders."

Based on data collected over several years from multiple partner institutions, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) estimates that nearly 15 million instances of medical harm occur in the U.S. each year. That is equal to a rate of more than 40,000 incidents per day.

In late 2006, participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies joined IHI in its national campaign to dramatically reduce incidents of medical harm in U.S. hospitals. The Blues are contributing a total of $5 million during 2007-08 as principal stakeholders to advance IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign, which encourages hospitals to adopt at least one of 12 improvements in care that can protect patients from medical harm.

Today's forum, "Collaborating to Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare: Results through Shared Commitment" illustrates best practices among healthcare professionals, hospitals and insurers. Participants included:

-- Allan Korn, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, BCBSA

-- Richard Norling, president and chief executive officer, Premier Inc.

-- Terry Kellogg, executive vice president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of


-- Karen Frush, MD, chief patient safety officer, Duke University Health


-- Sam Nussbaum, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer,

WellPoint, Inc.

Building on the momentum of Premier's Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID) pay-for-performance project with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign, Premier and healthcare leaders from across the country recently launched the QUEST project to improve patient safety and quality in the nation's hospitals while safely reducing healthcare costs. Approximately 100 hospitals will participate in QUEST, which will feature an advisory panel that includes BCBSA and CMS.

"The success of the HQID project led us to believe that similar principles -- clearly defined performance measures, incentives for high performance, transparency, sharing of best practices - can accelerate improvement in other aspects of hospital performance," said Richard A. Norling, Premier's president and CEO. "We are thrilled to collaborate with healthcare leaders at IHI, CMS and BCBSA in our efforts to help hospitals reliably deliver the most efficient, effective and caring hospital experience for each patient."

The Pediatric Rapid Response Team at Duke University Health System worked collaboratively with care teams from inpatient areas to develop strategies, implement the rapid response system, and review performance indicators regularly to determine the program's efficacy. Clinical outcomes included a 65 percent relative risk reduction in the number of non-pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) cardiac arrests, a 56 percent reduction in deaths from the non-PICU cardiac arrests, and a 25 percent reduction in non-PICU inpatient deaths.

"Duke University Health System is working to develop a culture of safety," said Karen Frush, MD, chief patient safety officer, Duke University Health System. "We envision the delivery of healthcare services guided by the patient safety principle of "preventing harm" to our patients, and we seek to provide the environment and technology necessary to support this vision."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is partnering with Alabama hospitals and Cardinal Health MedMined(TM) services to collaborate and act on healthcare acquired infections, hospital-wide and statewide. Elements included in this initiative include state of the art technologies to find, monitor, report and implement prevention technologies, clinical support, and evidence-based best practices. Hospitals have reduced infections rates by as much as 40 percent in one year, with more representative reductions being 19 percent overall. Quarterly best practice forums for hospital infection control professionals are effective in sharing proven solutions and generate tremendous interest, with attendance approaching 200 professionals.

"Since its pilot launch, our hospital quality program has grown from six hospitals to 102 hospitals statewide," said Terry Kellogg, executive vice president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. "We are also proud that other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have adopted our initiative, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield."

Through the Quality-in-Sight Hospital Incentive Program (Q-HIP), Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia's participating hospitals have decreased complication rates in one year, by 50 and 29 percent, respectively, for angioplasty and cardiac catheterization.

"Collaboration between providers and health plans is critical, and through industry-leading programs such as Q-HIP, we have demonstrated how it can drive improvements in clinical performance," said Sam Nussbaum, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, WellPoint, Inc. "With a common goal of improving quality, we are continuing to engage hospitals and physicians in patient safety programs, raising the bar for the quality of care."

To view a webcast of today's forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., please visit

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 99 million individuals - nearly one-in-three of all Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit

CONTACT: Lisa Johnson of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association,


Additional Media Contacts:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Larry Estock


Duke University Health System

Doug Stokke


Premier Inc.

Alven Weil


WellPoint, Inc.

Jim Gavin


SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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