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 ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Aspen Medical Group and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM) announced today a strategic alliance to merge the business systems of both organizations, including the clinic support staff and operations of Aspen. The move, which builds on the strengths of managed care, is expected to dramatically streamline the administrative and operational functions of the two organizations and provide even better service to patients.
 "While both organizations will remain autonomous, the purpose of the alliance is to provide high-quality health care in a managed care setting while achieving efficiencies in administrative and insurance functions," said Andy Czajkowski, BCBSM president and chief executive officer. "This alliance is consistent with integrated service network (ISN) legislation under MinnesotaCare, as well as federal initiatives recently announced by President Clinton."
 "This alliance will serve as a national model for integration between a multispecialty medical group and a managed care organization," said Keith Bakke M.D., Aspen Medical Group president. "It is a brand- new model that will allow providers to be autonomous yet integrates the system of a strong organization like Blue Cross to streamline administrative functions and transform data into useful information to continually improve care."
 The alliance will also focus on the following strategies to create streamlined, hassle-free administration:
 -- Use electronic data pathways to exchange claims, clinical, and financial information; streamline administration and maximize savings.
 -- Transform these data into information so Aspen and other affiliated health care providers, buyers and consumers can make better- informed decisions about their health care.
 -- Accelerate the use of electronic technology and continuous quality improvement programs to enhance both the service and care that patients receive.
 "We are equal partners in creating a truly seamless delivery system that eliminates paperwork and redundant administrative functions and that moves swiftly to converting data into useful information that both parties can use to improve care and save dollars," said William Riley, Aspen chief executive officer.
 Under the Aspen/BCBSM alliance, similar staff functions of both organizations will be combined, while both organizations remain autonomous. The Aspen providers will remain part of the Aspen organization, but relevant components of each organization will be merged to achieve the economies and performance of a seamless delivery system. The clinic buildings of Aspen Medical Group, all equipment, support staff functions and business systems of Aspen will be transferred to the joint alliance. As the relationship continues to develop, the two organizations look to develop a state-of-the-art managed care program that will included ambulatory care, outpatient surgery, chronic care and long-term care services.
 Last July, the two organizations announced the joint formation of an ISN. ISNs are the cornerstone of MinnesotaCare legislation and similar to the accountable health plans in President Clinton's proposed health reform plan. An ISN is an organization that is accountable for the costs and outcomes associated with delivering a full continuum of health care services to a defined population. It is a new kind of organization where a network of physicians and hospitals provides all needed health care services for a fixed payment. In turn, the ISN has the incentive to provide care as efficiently and effectively as possible. Under Minnesota law, ISNs can begin operation July 1, 1994.
 While the alliance more closely aligns the two organizations, Aspen and BCBSM will still be allowed to contract with other health care payers and providers. The alliance will be governed by a joint board, with 60 percent representing BCBSM and 40 percent representing Aspen.
 Aspen Medical Group brings its expertise and reputation for delivering high-quality, cost-effective medical care to residents of the metropolitan area. BCBSM brings innovations in data management, expertise in continuous quality improvement, financial strength and administrative efficiencies to this relationship.
 Aspen Medical Group has more than 120 physicians and health care professionals who provide both primary and specialty care services at eight metropolitan locations. BCBSM, a leader in developing innovative relationships with hospitals and physicians, is the state's oldest and largest health coverage carrier. Currently, nearly 1.2 million members are covered by BCBSM health plans or plans administered by the company.
 -0- 10/15/93
 /CONTACT: Mark Heymans, 612-456-8786; Karl Oestreich, 612-456-1502; or Judy Kerry, 612-456-1515, all of BCBSM; or William Riley of Aspen Medical, 612-641-7188/

CO: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; Aspen Medical Group ST: Minnesota IN: HEA SU: JVN

DB-DS -- MN008 -- 2837 10/15/93 15:06 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 15, 1993

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