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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: March 31, 2009
Washington Medical Quality Measurably Improves, According To Premera Blue Cross

Since 2002, Washington physicians have steadily improved their adherence to prevailing quality standards, according to the 2008 Quality Score Card (QSC) produced by Premera Blue Cross and 15 large medical groups.

In 2002 Premera asked six regional medical groups to help define and create a Washington QSC. Over time, this collaboration has evolved into multiple quality programs providing medical-quality benchmarks and data to more than 200 medical practices.

"The QSC takes on greater significance given that this collaboration began before the 2003 Rand Health study declared only 55 percent of care provided in the U.S. met quality guidelines," said Dr. John Castiglia, Premera’s chief medical officer and senior vice president. In addition to being one of the early prototypes for providing the public with clinical information on medical quality, the QSC has remained faithful to its original mission of sharing data among physicians to improve the quality of care their patients receive.

In recent years, Premera has worked with other Northwest organizations to introduce expanded community scorecards, including the Oregon Healthcare Quality Corporation, and the Puget Sound Health Alliance which this year published its first Health Alliance Community Checkup.

In 2007, Premera extended its quality efforts to hospitals as the first health plan invited to join the Washington State Hospital Association’s (WSHA) Patient Safety Initiative. WSHA views Premera’s work in the "out-patient" setting on quality as being on a parallel track to its campaign to accelerate the adoption of best practices to reduce medical errors in the "in-patient" setting.

"The joint efforts of Premera Blue Cross and the participating Quality Score Card medical practices have made significant contributions to the healthcare of Washington families," said Carol Wagner, vice president of WSHA’s patient safety program. "By working together, they crafted quality measures and processes that have helped physicians across Washington improve the quality of preventive care and the treatment of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and acute infectious illnesses."

The QSC participating medical groups, who care for more than 250,000 Premera members in Washington, include: Columbia Medical Associates; The Everett Clinic; Lakeshore Medical Group; Madrona Medical Group (part of PeaceHealth Medical Group since July 2008); Minor & James Medical; MultiCare Health System; Pacific Medical Centers; Pediatric Associates; Physicians Clinic of Spokane; The Polyclinic; Puget Sound Family Physicians; Rockwood Clinic, P.S.; Virginia Mason Medical Center; Swedish Physicians; University of Washington Medicine Neighborhood Clinics; and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center.

Premera’s 2008 Healthcare Quality Award Program also honors 29 clinics that define statewide best-practice standards on indicators of chronic care, preventive care, acute care and overall quality. Factors cited by these physicians that help them deliver quality care in their practices:

  • A high adoption rate of electronic medical and health records systems;
  • Use of care guidelines;
  • Partnering with patients to educate them about how to improve their outcomes; and
  • Measuring outcomes as part of treatment plan and praising patients when outcomes improve.

Address: Premera Blue Cross, 3900 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA 99202; (509) 536-4700,

  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Physician Organizations

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