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Premera Blue Cross and Washington Medical Groups Publish Results of Innovative Program Aimed at Collaboratively Improving Health Care Quality
- Quality of care at participating medical groups jumps significantly
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. – Dec. 9, 2004 – Premera Blue Cross and several prominent medical groups from across Washington state today announced details of a three-year effort aimed at providing greater insight into key metrics of health-care quality, satisfaction and efficiency.
Preventive screenings, diabetes monitoring and treatment, use of cost-effective generic drugs, and satisfaction with thoroughness of treatment were among the 17 variables measured by Premera’s 2004 Quality Score Card, results of which were announced today for the first time and are available at www.Premera.com.
"This collaborative effort focused on providing information to the public about quality measurements in health care represents the future of medicine," said David F. Dreis, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Outcomes at Virginia Mason Medical Center. "This is an exciting initiative for Washington."
Several prominent Washington medical groups participated in development of the Quality Score Card, including The Rockwood Clinic; Physicians Clinic of Spokane; Wenatchee Valley Medical Center; the Everett Clinic; Virginia Mason Medical Center; Pacific Medical Centers; and The Polyclinic.
“Increasingly, consumers and providers are seeking information to make more informed health-care decisions.” said Mark Sollek, MD, a board-certified nephrologist and Premera medical director who heads up the Quality Score Card initiative. “While some quality benchmarks exist, they are national metrics developed in closed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) settings where all doctors work for the same organization.”
“The Quality Score Card is generating the first benchmarks in the Northwest developed by and for physicians with support from a major health plan, that track quality in an open PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) environment where most people get their commercial health coverage,” Dr. Sollek said.
Improvements in Quality of Care
Deployment of the Quality Score Card has also coincided with a marked improvement in health-care quality by participating medical groups. In the first two years, participating medical groups improved quality by 16 percent in areas with greatest opportunity for improvement.
“You can’t improve what you can’t measure,” said William Gotthold, MD, Medical Director for the Wenatchee Valley Clinic. “We credit Premera for making this a collaborative effort rather than imposing its own standards on the medical community. By working together and learning from each other, we can accelerate efforts to improve quality.”
Beginning in 2001, participating medical groups and Premera worked with national standards to identify key indicators of health-care satisfaction and quality in several areas from preventive medicine to acute care. These key indicators include:
- Critical screening exams for women including breast and cervical cancer. Studies show mammograms may lower the chance of dying from breast cancer by 25 percent to 35 percent.
- Monitoring and treatment of diabetes. Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions and accounts for a significant percentage of health care costs.
- Usage of cost-effective generic drugs. On average, generic equivalents cost about 30 percent less than their brand-name counterparts during the first year they become available—and often reach a 75 percent cost savings within two years.