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Blue Cross And Blue Shield Awarded For Innovation In Medical And Pharmaceutical Management

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(CHICAGO – Oct. 13, 2005) Six Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans received top honors from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) at its eighth annual "Best of Blue" National Awards Program at the Best Practices in Medical and Pharmacy Management conference. The Blue companies honored were: Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Shield of California and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Seven programs were highlighted in four categories.

The Best of Blue Awards in Medical and Pharmacy Management showcase programs aimed at improving our nation's health care delivery system. The focus areas of the awards are quality improvement, partnerships, plan-to-plan collaborations, and quality outcomes methodology.

“These programs demonstrate how the Blues are effectively harnessing vast amounts of healthcare information and making knowledge work to foster better and more affordable care for consumers in communities nationwide,” said Allan Korn, M.D., BCBSA’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

2005 Best of Blue Awards winners include:

Best Practices in Partnerships
Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield: “CAAPI: Collaborative Appropriate Antibiotic Prescribing Initiative.” Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield collaborated with two other area health insurers and a large physician group to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for URIs by 17% and savings of more than $40,000 in the first year.

Best Practices in Quality Improvement
Blue Shield of California: “Patient Highlights: Effective Clinical Reminders for Physicians.” Using an innovative information technology application, Blue Shield of California improved compliance with evidence-based clinical practice guidelines related to the management of chronic diseases. Results showed that patient compliance was 14% higher in the treatment group than the control group, and conversion to compliance with the CPGs occurred more quickly, on average, in the treatment group.

Innovations in Partnerships
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield: “Arkansas Fitness Challenge.” Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Arkansas Department of Health designed a program to increase fitness levels of its employees. The goals were to increase physical activity among non-exercising employees, to begin to reduce incidence of obesity among employees, and to encourage other employers to join the effort by profiling the contest in the media. The Challenge grew from a little more than 2,000 employees within the two host entities participating in 2004 to more than 10,000 employees representing 45 groups in 2005.

Blue Cross of California: “Community Health: A Health Plan's Contribution.” Through a Community-Based Participatory Research collaboration between the Valley Air Quality Committee and Blue Cross of California, a state of the art center was created to help alleviate some of the underlying environmental causes of asthma, resulting in better tracking of acute asthma episodes during adverse events and implementation of an air quality flag program in area schools.

Innovations in Quality Improvement
Blue Cross of California: “Out of the ER: The Tulare Project.” In collaboration with Tulare County emergency physicians, this program has reduced unnecessary emergency room utilization by 9.8% per 1,000 members in 2004.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts: “Blue Health Coach – Proactive Health Management.” The impact of the Blue Health Coach program to support members with CAD (coronary artery disease) is evident. Overall, participants in the program reduced their inpatient visits by 42% and reduced inpatient costs by 28%, decreased their total cholesterol level from 195.52 to 182.9; and improved their body mass index (BMI) from 32.49 to 31.97.

Special Jurors' Award for Methodological Design
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan: “Smoking Cessation Research.” In partnership with Michigan State University, this research on the effectiveness of BCBSM’s smoking cessation quit-line found that patients contacted by nurse counselors by telephone were significantly more likely to enroll (21%) in the program than those who received a postcard (1%) or no intervention (0%).

Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield: “CCAPI: Collaborative Appropriate Antibiotic Prescribing Initiative.” This program has also been recognized as a winning entry for the Best Practices in Partnerships category.

Since 1998, BCBSA has received more than 550 entries from Plans and recognized 44 of these programs as winners, showcasing the continued innovation and dedication Plans show toward improving our nation’s health care delivery system.

Eighty-nine submissions were entered in the award program, which recognize and highlight effective and creative medical management, pharmacy, service programs and novel partnerships that have been developed by Blue Plans. Each program underwent a rigorous review process by external health industry experts, including academic researchers, representatives of government agencies, consumer advocates and employers.

Complete summaries of the 2005 Best of Blue winning programs are available through the 2005 Best of Blue brochure.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is made up of 40 independent, locally owned and operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 93 million – nearly one-in-three – Americans.

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