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Massachusetts Employers and Health Plans Continue to Support Quality Care by Rewarding Physicians through Bridges to Excellence Programs

More than 1 million consumers impacted by information to make better

choices about their care

BOSTON, Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts employers and health plans have successfully completed a three-year pilot project and will continue to implement Bridges to Excellence (BTE) programs, the nation's largest effort to reward physicians for delivering high-quality care. BTE programs in Massachusetts have enabled more than 1,300 physicians to make significant improvements in their systems and processes, and as a result, they received over $2.4 million in financial rewards between 2004 and 2006. These improvements have a direct impact on the high quality health care delivered to patients.

AstraZeneca, GE, IBM, Raytheon, and Verizon pioneered the effort for the past three years, making an important investment towards improving health care delivered in the state. At the end of 2006, 13.4 percent of patients from the five employers were seeing recognized physicians, up from less than two percent when the programs began. All of these employers will continue to participate in BTE programs hereafter as a result of the positive outcomes in better care. EMC Corporation joined the effort in 2007. Health plans are playing a key administrative role in the transition from the pilot. Health plans include BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, and most recently Fallon Community Health Plan.

"Bridges to Excellence complements EMC's employee health management philosophy, which is aimed at helping employees and family members manage their health and navigate through the health care environment," said Delia Vetter, Senior Director of Benefits for EMC Corporation and a BTE board member. "The BTE programs will enable us to recognize and reward quality health care in the communities where we have employees, and help us ensure that our employees and their families receive high-quality patient-centric care."

Through participation in three of BTE's programs -- Physician Office Link, Diabetes Care Link and Cardiac Care Link -- Massachusetts' employers and health plans are working together to improve care processes and systems of care. These efforts are in alignment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Value-Driven Health Care Initiative to improve health care quality, information, and cost-effectiveness for employees and their families, put forward and supported by Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Physicians who achieve recognition through one of the National Committee for Quality Assurance's corresponding recognition programs earn bonuses for treating employees of the participating employers. Alternatively, physicians can achieve recognition for the Physician Office Link program through MassPRO, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization in Massachusetts. A large number of physician practices work with consultants from MassPRO on the Doctor's Office Quality-Information Technology (DOQ-IT) initiative, a program funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that is designed to assist physician practices in the adoption and implementation of health information

technology. Physicians enrolled in both BTE and DOQ-IT were able to achieve recognition for the Physician Office Link program through MassPRO.

"Everyone involved -- the practice, employers and health plans -- worked very hard to make the program a success," said George Chedraoui, Global Well- being and Health Benefits Leader for IBM Corporation and a BTE board member. "And, as a result, we know that the investments we all made will pay off long term, not only in the quality of care for our employees but for the community as well, and we're committed to building on that success."

BTE programs meet three of the Value-Driven Health Care Initiative's Four Cornerstones because they enable employers to (1) recognize and reward physicians for the adoption of better systems of care, including the adoption and use of interoperable health information technology; (2) publicly display and make available to consumers information on the quality of care of physicians in the community; and (3) create specific financial rewards for physicians to improve the quality of care they deliver. The programs have helped deliver improved health care quality for employees and their families by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate safe, timely, and cost-effective patient-centered care.

"AstraZeneca participates in BTE and HHS' Four Cornerstones in support of our commitment to put the health of patients at the forefront of everything we do; provide additional access to high quality medical care; and further enhance health management for our employees and their families," said Penny Stoker, vice president of human resources for AstraZeneca.

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 healthcare 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

SOURCE Bridges to Excellence
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