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Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Provides Online Physician Quality Information to Members
Date:12/15/2008

Online physician data provides increased transparency

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is providing its members with online physician quality information in an effort to help them make more informed health care decisions.

"Today, more people have greater out-of-pocket expenses and want to know where to obtain the best care at the best price," said Dr. Carey Vinson, Highmark vice president of medical and quality performance management. "Publicly reported quality and cost data, also referred to as 'transparency,' are in high demand, and we're dedicated to giving our group customers and members the information they need to obtain the best health care possible."

Since 2004, Highmark has been reporting national cost and quality data to members via its Web site. Highmark contracts with Subimo, a leader in the health care information field, to provide access to a broad array of publicly reported quality measures.

Highmark's member Web site includes a "Hospital and Physician Quality Measures" link that allows members to view physician ratings, which are based on particular care quality measures. Care is measured on preventive screenings, office visits and recommended tests and procedures for three areas -- diabetes, pediatrics and women's health. The information being displayed is limited to primary care physicians.

Physicians are rated using one, two or three stars. Stars are used to show how the physician's Highmark patient base compares to the Highmark patient base of similar physicians. More stars indicate the physician's Highmark patients have received the specified care at a higher rate than the Highmark patients of his or her peers. Fewer stars do not necessarily indicate poor performance by the physician.

"Quality ratings are one more piece of information to consider when making decisions about choosing a physician," said Vinson, while cautioning members "not to make that decision solely based on this rating or any other individual factor."

Highmark's online provider directory includes board certification; National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recognition; and medical school, internship and residency information. Members can also find more useful data such as electronic prescribing ability and use of electronic medical records. An expanded search is available for selecting a physician based on gender, languages spoken and evening or weekend office hours.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

As one of the state's leading health insurers and with nearly 70 years of community involvement, Pittsburgh-based Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves 3.1 million members. The company's mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs more than 5,000 people in the region and provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information about Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, visit www.highmark.com.


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SOURCE Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
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