|BCBSNC Finds Lower Healthcare Spending a Result Of Quality Incentives For Physicians
Bridges to Excellence, a pilot program conducted by Blue
Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), showed that through
providing rewards to physicians- $4.2 million in rewards total- a
higher level of quality standards could be met.
More than 970 physicians in the BCBSNC network,
regardless of their participation in the pilot, achieved at least one
quality standard as of April 2009, as compared with fewer than 100
physicians who were recognized as having met the standards at the
beginning of the program. That is almost a tenfold increase in three
Nationally, 14,000 physicians representing 2,700 practices have met the program's quality standards.
The Bridges to Excellence pilot, launched in 2006,
offered participation to physicians in one or more of its three
programs: diabetes care, heart/stroke care, and physician practice
In BCBSNC's data analysis, conducted by its Clinical Informatics unit at the conclusion of the pilot, it was found that:
- Among diabetes patients, those who were treated by a
physician meeting the Bridges to Excellence diabetes standards for care
were much more likely to have a good blood pressure reading (defined as
130 over 80 or less).
- Patients in the program for better efficiencies in
practice management received high-cost radiology services, such as CT
scans and MRIs, at a rate 12 percent lower than the control group of
- These patients were also 34 percent less likely to visit the ER and 24 percent less likely to see a specialist.
- The program included 194 physicians representing 41 practices, who earned rewards for meeting at least one quality standard.
Dr. Jennifer Lail, a pediatrician with Chapel Hill
Pediatrics and Adolescents who participated in the pilot believes,
"Ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement efforts are a critical
part of any medical practice," and "the financial benefits of Bridges
to Excellence have been very useful in continuing our quality
Bridges to Excellence is a nonprofit organization with
active programs in 17 states, sponsored by health plans, employers and
physicians. The quality improvement program uses standards of care
established by organizations such as the National Committee for Quality
"We've believed for years that quality improvement leads
to better health outcomes and lower costs," said Don Bradley, MD,
BCBSNC senior vice president and chief medical officer. "The healthcare
quality movement is here to stay, and it's imperative that we keep the
focus on quality as we embark on reforming the nation's healthcare
Address: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Corporate Headquarters, 5901 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham, NC 27707; (800)