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Bridges to Excellence Marks Five-Year Anniversary
Date:7/7/2008

Effort has paid millions of dollars in incentives and recognized 10,000 physicians across the U.S.

WASHINGTON, July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Five years ago a group of employers started with a simple idea and an experiment that incentives can motivate physicians to demonstrate the delivery of quality care. Now as part of a growing movement referred to as pay for performance, Bridges to Excellence (BTE) marks its fifth anniversary as the nation's first and largest effort to reward doctors for delivery of high quality care.

To date, BTE programs have been successfully implemented in more than 18 states with over 80 employers and eight business coalitions, recognizing more than 10,000 physicians throughout the U.S. and paying more than $12 million dollars in incentives.

"Aetna has been profoundly impressed with the work done by BTE," said Troyen Brennan, MD, MPH, chief medical officer, Aetna Inc. "As a pioneer, BTE has shown us how to bring transparent quality measures into the medical marketplace, and create real incentives for doctors to provide effective care. Aetna is basing all of its quality recognition programs on BTE as it is really the industry standard."

As efforts to implement BTE programs gain momentum and payers incorporate incentives for physicians and hospitals for providing better quality care, it's important to apply lessons learned from the past. Bridges to Excellence has developed a report summarizing the past five years and outlining future efforts to accomplish this mission. The report, Five Years On: Bridges Built, Bridges to Build, is publicly available and can be accessed at: http://www.bridgestoexcellence.org.

The report findings include:

- Incentives work, when meaningful and tied to quality reports that are credible and reliable, and that's why BTE has and will continue to focus on medical record data in measuring the quality of care in a physician's practice.

- Physicians can reengineer their practices to deliver patient-centered care, although the effort requires significant learning and resources in time and money, and that's why BTE has designed robust incentives for a Medical Home.

- Patients getting care from recognized physicians have significantly lower episode costs of care than patients getting care from non-recognized physicians.

- The active collaboration of plans, coalitions and employers around a common set of quality improvement and incentive programs yields incremental gains to all participants far superior to what each could achieve by acting alone.

"The Bridges to Excellence program aligns very well with both our health care strategy and our health care initiative to provide our employees with high-quality medical care at an affordable price, while encouraging our employees to take an active role in managing their personal health care needs," said Charles Montreuil, vice president of corporate human resources at Carlson, president of the BTE board, and chair of the Buyers Health Care Action Group. "Our research shows that by rewarding physicians who give optimal health care to our employees, we can help to control our costs, establish common-care guidelines and help to improve the quality of treatment for our employees with diseases such as diabetes and heart problems. We are extremely optimistic about the continuing impact of this program on our overall health care initiative."

BTE acknowledges its partners over the last five years including the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the National Business Coalition on Health and its member coalitions, Thomson-Medstat, MassPRO, MN Community Measurement, the Center for Health Transformation, Towers Perrin, Mercer and HealthGrades. BTE thanks the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund for supporting various BTE projects and initiatives. BTE also recognizes the commitment made by employers and health plans across the country that has and continues to support the effort.

"The employers who came together to launch BTE must continue to urge their health plan administrators to stay the course, harmonize their efforts, and push for broad market transformation," said Francois de Brantes, BTE chief executive officer. "Our programs have shown that incentives tied to medical record data-based report cards can have a truly transformational effect on the quality of care."

About Bridges to Excellence

Bridges to Excellence (BTE) is a non-profit coalition-based organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, and patient-centered care. BTE works with large employers, health plans, providers and a wide range of organizations that have a shared goal of improving quality and patient outcomes. For more information, visit http://www.bridgestoexcellence.org.

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Francois de Brantes

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SOURCE Bridges to Excellence
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