Collaboration in health care yields cost savings and improved safety for Michigan patients

By Thomas L. Simmer, Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

November 23, 2009

DETROIT - While the debate over how to reform our health care system rages on, Michigan hospitals, physicians and insurers have been working together to improve safety, decrease complications, lower costs and increase the quality of care in the state.

For example, a series of eight long-term initiatives have united hospitals and physicians state-wide in examining ways to improve on common, but often costly, procedures such as heart surgery, bariatric surgery, cardiac angioplasty and colon surgery. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network convene and fund these efforts, working with an outside data coordinating center to ensure data integrity and privacy.

Each of these initiatives has demonstrated progress in decreasing complications and improving quality for Michigan residents who undergo these procedures. And the results are being shared nationally, helping physicians in other states to launch similar efforts.

Recently, the American College of Surgeons recognized Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for its leadership and contributions in improving surgical care quality in Michigan. The Blues fund the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative, a group of 34 hospitals across Michigan that collect data and share best practices to improve quality and outcomes for a variety of surgical procedures. Dr. Darryl Campbell, chief of Clinical Affairs at the University of Michigan Health System and the program leader, estimates that surgical complications were reduced by 37 percent in an analysis of data. The effort has realized nearly $28 million in savings.

This is the kind of effort that turns competitors into collaborators for the benefit of all Michigan residents. These efforts open the lines of communication within the health care industry and foster improvement by uniting under a shared focus. This is health care reform, and it's happening here in Michigan every day.

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