A skyline view of the Mackinac Bridge

Innovations must be customer-centered and value-based to improve health of members and communities

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, you don’t have to look far for a source of innovation.

Detroit, where we’re headquartered, put the ‘world on wheels’ and paved the way for a bold new future. From our historic skyscrapers to our famous sounds, Michiganders have a proud story of innovation.

That remarkable history – and the knowledge of what our innovations have meant to the world – serve as inspiration to me as I gather with leaders from across the nation to discuss ways to innovate in the health care industry.

While our company’s 80-year history is rooted in the belief that health care should be available to anyone who needs it, access to quality, affordable health care is becoming out of reach for far too many people.

It’s clear that the need to innovate is more urgent than ever before. As leaders, we must grasp the opportunities to innovate and — in the true fashion of the Motor City — step on the gas.

Customer-centered, quality-driven innovations

We at Blue Cross believe that successful innovation must start with a commitment to deliver quality and value to the people we serve. It must also be centered on providing our customers with the best experiences and – above all – improve the health of our members and communities.

We must rethink care delivery and develop new partnerships.

A great example of quality-driven, customer-centered innovation is the care provided by our physician partners, through our Patient-Centered Medical Home program. This year is the 10th anniversary of our nationally-recognized PCMH designation.

This model, where a primary care physician serves as a home base for all care that a patient receives, improves doctor-patient relationships, helps patients get the right care at the right time in the right setting, and leads to better health outcomes.

Medical practices that have the Patient-Centered Medical Home designation consistently outperform other practices in clinical quality and utilization measures, including lower rates of ER visits for adults.

Innovative partnerships to improve health

The positive results for our members are profound. Doctors and their care teams have prevented disease, reduced hospitalizations and ER visits, better tracked patient care and managed common and chronic medical conditions to keep patients healthy.

The program, which is part of our Value Partnerships initiative, also delivers tremendous value and savings. Our Patient-Centered Medical Home programs have avoided $427 million in costs in the last six years alone -– savings that we can use to keep our products more affordable for our members.

We are proud that our value-based programs, which also include holding providers responsible and rewarding them for quality, have transformed the way health care is delivered in Michigan.

Technological advancements to serve members

We are also innovating through technology and transforming the way we interact with our members. Our goal is to create easy, useful and enjoyable member experiences that improve their health.

Our award-winning Mobile App, which offers members quick access to health and wellness information, provides members with speedier, consolidated access to their benefits information and statements.

We’re also piloting new innovations in data analytics — an area where many health plans have underinvested in the past. New initiatives include helping customers better understand the needs of their employees, key factors increasing their health care costs, and ways to improve the quality of care for members.

Most importantly, we are enhancing our capabilities of using data to save lives.

For instance, we are partnering with doctors to reduce opioid abuse, which is a growing national epidemic. One aspect of our broad strategy to combat the opioid problem helps prevent member overdose by notifying providers when prescriptions for controlled substances have been obtained from multiple doctors without their shared knowledge.

Innovating our business model to support our mission

Supporting these innovations is also part of Blue Cross’ company-wide strategy to diversify our business.

Diversification offers our company greater stability, especially amid market changes. By diversifying, we can serve new customers, generating earnings to invest back in our core health business – and help control costs for our members.

In 2018, we’ll continue to capitalize on growth opportunities and make investments that can be delivered across our growing portfolio of businesses.

As Michigan’s largest health plan, we are committed to driving innovation to find creative solutions for the best possible products for our customers and members. And just as the history of innovation is embedded in our hometown, Blue Cross is committed to innovation across our company to transform the health and well-being of our customers, members and their communities.

Daniel J. Loepp is President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which serves nearly 5.4 million members in all 50 states.

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