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BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF MINNESOTA AND BLUE PLUS CHANGE HEALTH CARE WITH STATE'S MOST POWERFUL DATABASE

 ST. PAUL, Minn., March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM) and Blue Plus have unveiled a bold strategy that will meet the goals of the Minnesota Health Care Commission, mandated by the legislature to provide better health care information and curb health care costs. The initiative, called Project HealthVision, will dramatically change the way health care decisions are made and will contain costs through revolutionary ways of measuring and improving the quality of care.
 "Our data-driven management of health care coincides in timing and approach with the direction of health care reform in Minnesota," said Andrew Czajkowski, president and chief executive officer. "We'll meet Commission goals in 1994 with many of the programs under Project HealthVision."
 In a report delivered to lawmakers last week, the Minnesota Health Care Commission requests that every health care plan in Minnesota trim cost increases by 10 percent in 1994. To help achieve this goal, the report also calls for comprehensive and clear information that providers of health care, buyers, and consumers can use to make more informed health care decisions.
 Project HealthVision focuses on innovative ways BCBSM is making health care decision making smarter and more efficient through better information. The combination of new and recently developed programs all spring from an unprecedented database and experience in Minnesota health care. BCBSM has been the only statewide health coverage carrier for 60 years and since 1986 has been gathering and using its rich pool of data with sophisticated software and analysis.
 "We have the closest thing to a picture of Minnesota health care -- the first real picture of quality," said Dr. Mark Banks, senior vice president of BCBSM and chief operating officer of Blue Plus, the company's HMO affiliate. "The more we know about the services we're paying for, the better position we're in to improve them."
 Project HealthVision data uncover a greater level of detail than any other source, including facts such as:
 -- Who gets heart patients back on their feet sooner and how that varies across the state
 -- What patterns occur in prescribing drugs, such as antidepressants
 -- Comparative information that clinics can use to determine if they need to do more mammograms or fewer chest X-rays
 -- Thousands of other cost and practice comparisons statewide, both outpatient and inpatient
 Project HealthVision benefits provider, purchaser and consumer. Project HealthVision uses this knowledge to 1) tackle costs at the source; 2) improve health care practice; 3) guide members to hospitals and doctors who can prove the best results; and 4) return more control to the purchasers, companies and their employees. New applications are always evolving, but today Project HealthVision components are:
 -- The Project HealthVision cardiac network: A new network of 10 cardiac hospitals and affiliated physicians, where the mortality rate is nearly three times better than the average rate among the majority of other cardiac providers in Minnesota. This is the first such specialty network in the state, with others to come.
 -- Hospital reimbursement by outcome: A first-in-the-nation payment system for hospitals, where they are rewarded for the successful outcome of treatment for patients. Using a patented illness and outcome grouping method, the system is entering its third year.
 -- Interactive videos for patients: Simple explanations of treatment alternatives for conditions such as prostate enlargement or breast cancer, so patients can play a larger role along with their physicians in making the best decisions for their health care.
 -- Easy-to-use reports for employers: The state's only reports that compare a given employer group's health experience to the age-sex adjusted average of similar companies. The reports tell a company what it's spending on health care services for employees and where costs can be curbed or improvements made in the benefit plan.
 -- Primary care quality tracking: A system that flags higher or lower patterns of services, such as chest X-rays and mammograms, and then works with clinics to account for and address variations from their peers at other similar clinics.
 "If we tell physicians they are doing 30 percent more angiographies than their peers, or employers that they are spending 50 percent more on drugs, they're going to want to do something about that," said MaryAnn Stump, vice president for quality improvement at Blue Plus. "Holding up a mirror is the most powerful way to create change. Until now, traditional managed care hasn't been able to do that."
 Project HealthVision capabilities have attracted state and national attention. Because of its small area analysis capability, a system that allows BCBSM to compare the use of health care services across different geographic areas, BCBSM will be working with the Minnesota Department of Health under a special grant to pinpoint areas in Minnesota where children are inadequately immunized. Also, the company was selected last fall by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to participate in a demonstration project to simplify claims submission procedures and cut administrative costs through the use of streamlined electronic technologies.
 Serving more than 1.1 million Minnesotans, BCBSM is the state's oldest and largest health coverage carrier. Nearly one quarter of all Minnesotans are covered by the carrier and its affiliated organizations. The company is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 1993. Blue Plus is the HMO affiliate of BCBSM and one of the state's largest HMOs with more than 200,000 members statewide.
 -0- 3/30/93
 /CONTACT: Karl Oestreich of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, 612-456-1502/


CO: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota ST: Minnesota IN: MTC INS SU:

KH -- MN008 -- 1093 03/30/93 13:34 EST
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Date:Mar 30, 1993
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