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Highmark Presents Work on MRSA Prevention at National Health Care Quality Conference

QualityBLUE program works with hospitals to help reduce spread of MRSA

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- At a national forum on quality in health care, Highmark officials presented information on one aspect of their pay-for-performance program designed to deal with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Highmark's program, called QualityBLUE, has been extremely successful for hospitals in western Pennsylvania in identifying patients that have been infected with the disease.

"By identifying patients who are carriers of MRSA earlier than in the past, hospitals are reducing the spread of the disease and reducing mortality, decreasing length of stay and use of antibiotics, and ultimately having significantly improved outcomes for patients," said Deborah Donovan, director, Provider Quality Performance Management at Highmark. "Highmark is working collaboratively with 30 hospitals in Pennsylvania. It is in great part because of this cooperation that the program has been so successful."

The poster presentation was made today at the 19th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement for Health Care in Orlando, Fla. and sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). In December 2006, the IHI added the reduction of MRSA infections to its new 5 Million Lives campaign. Participating hospitals submit such data as the percentage of patients who were tested for MRSA on admission and compliance with prevention techniques.

Highmark's pay-for-performance program began targeting MRSA testing and prevention initiatives in July 2005. "We have made it easier for participating hospitals to work with IHI and Highmark," said Donovan.

Results from Highmark's fiscal year 2007 review show that during the past year, 8.4 percent of patients admitted to hospitals' high-risk areas such as the intensive care unit were identified as carriers of MRSA. With the thorough screening program, the spread of MRSA has been reduced. Measures that participating hospitals use to reduce the spread once the patient is identified as a carrier include placing the patient in isolation, using dedicated equipment, and strict adherence to appropriate hand hygiene.

Donovan says the QualityBLUE program has expanded for fiscal year 2008 for the participating hospitals in western and central Pennsylvania. Each hospital identified three units within its facility for intense activities designed to reduce MRSA transmission.

Highmark Inc.

As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.'s mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark serves 4.6 million people through the company's health care benefits business. Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs that work to improve people's health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark Inc. 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, visit

SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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