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Buyers Health Care Action Group Pilots New Bridges to Excellence Program for Depression

Rollout of physician pay for performance effort encourages optimal care of patients with depression

MINNEAPOLIS, May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Depression is the most costly illness for U.S. employers estimated at more than $44 billion a year in lost productivity. To measure and reward optimal care for patients with depression, the Buyers Health Care Action Group (BHCAG) is leading a new Bridges to Excellence (BTE) program with a pilot in Minnesota. BTE is the nation's largest effort to reward physicians for delivery of high quality care. The Depression Management Care Link pilot will monitor physician and practice performance and improvements, evaluate the impact of better management of depression on costs of care and understand how the measures could be implemented through electronic medical record systems.

"We hope to make a significant impact on improving the health of our community by providing purchasers and consumers information on which physicians are providing excellent care to people that are depressed," said BHCAG CEO Carolyn Pare. "As an early adopter of BTE for diabetes and cardiovascular care, we hope to apply the same quality improvement, measurement and reward techniques towards the identification and treatment of depression."

Patients complete a screening questionnaire to determine if they are depressed. A reassessment is done at six months, and continues throughout the course of treatment. As measurement is a critical element in BTE programs, this evaluation tool will be used to measure improvements in patient outcomes and determine program results. The goal is to see improvements in how the patient is feeling in six months, with full recovery in 12 months. Scoring and assessment will be done by MN Community Measurement, a BTE performance assessment organization.

BTE Champions of Change will pay high performing providers per patient in 2009 and participating health plans have committed to paying on the program in 2010. Champions of Change are employers that have taken the lead in publicly signaling to the medical community that health care purchasers want to financially reward providers for delivering optimal care defined by outcomes - not volumes of service performed. Champions of Change employers participating in Bridges to Excellence include: 3M, Carlson Companies, General Electric, Honeywell, Medtronic, Resource Training and Solutions, State of Minnesota Department of Employee Relations, State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Target Corporation, University of Minnesota and Wells Fargo.

"This effort has the commitment from health plans, support of area employers, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement and MN Community Measurement," said Charlie Montreuil, vice president of Corporate Human Resources for Carlson Companies, BHCAG board chair and BTE board member. "BTE will evaluate the impact of this pilot program and roll out this effort nationally in 2009."

In addition to depression care, the Minnesota BTE program already provides rewards for diabetes care and cardiovascular disease treatment.

May 29 depression webcast

To introduce this program and have a community dialogue on depression, BHCAG is hosting a webcast on Thursday, May 29 from 7:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. CDT at the Hilton Airport Hotel, 3800 American Boulevard East in Bloomington, Minn. Registration is required. To attend the "live" webcast in person at the Hilton please RSVP to or register for the webcast through the following link:


The vision of the Buyers Health Care Action Group is that health care consumers get the care they need at the right time, in the right place, at the right price. Our mission is to recreate the health care system to focus on a collective goal of optimal health and total value. We accomplish our mission, and create value for our members, by pursuing strategies that: openly challenge conventional practice and foster innovation; aggressively pursue performance improvement; actively influence the behavior of all stakeholders to achieve alignment in providing and purchasing health care; and proactively engage and connect our members to initiatives that further a goal of optimal health and total value. For more information go to:

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

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Francois de Brantes

SOURCE Bridges to Excellence
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