Blue Cross-Backed Collaborative Driving Better Treatment for COVID-19 Patients  

Julie Bitely

| 3 min read

Busy intensive care unit
As hospitals nationally grappled with how to best treat patients with COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, accurate and timely information was critical. Nearly 40 Michigan hospitals quickly banded together to share data about their COVID-19 patients, backed by support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The statewide effort leveraged Blue Cross’ Collaborative Quality Initiatives platform to create Mi-COVID19, a centralized clinical registry designed to ultimately help the people treating COVID-19 patients better understand what their colleagues were discovering about how to treat the virus. The effort was launched within weeks of the first case of COVID-19 being diagnosed in Michigan and has helped drive evidence-based treatment decisions and discoveries. Collaborative quality initiatives – or CQIs – are part of Blue Cross’s Value Partnerships programs and help ease rapid data-sharing among providers so key stakeholders can find medical trends and suggest solutions.

COVID-19 CQI study uncovers overuse of antibiotics 

Most recently, analysis conducted by the COVID-19 CQI uncovered widespread prescribing of antibiotics for early patients. When COVID-19 cases were peaking, more than half of hospitalized patients suspected of having the virus received antibiotics, just in case they had a bacterial infection. Yet testing showed that more than 96% of them only had the coronavirus – which isn’t affected by antibiotics. The discovery is highlighted in a blog from Michigan Medicine and underscores the need for faster in-hospital testing for coronavirus and other infections. The study, covering 1,705 patients in 38 Michigan hospitals, noted that faster testing and understanding of infection risk factors could help hospitals decide who needs antibiotics and spare everyone else the risks associated with overuse of antibiotics. “The important findings coming out of this collaborative will help providers across the world deliver highest value care possible to COVID-19 patients, while reducing the risks associated with overutilization of antibiotic treatment,” said Tom Leyden, director, Value Partnerships, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Based on the study findings, inpatient COVID-19 treatment guidelines have been updated and can help providers across the country supply better care for patients.

Harnessing the power of collaboration

Providers and hospital systems working together is a key tenet of statewide CQIs, which historically have focused on addressing areas of health care where scientific uncertainty exists, and best practices aren’t known. COVID-19 is a great example of a clinical issue for which the CQI model can be used to discover and rapidly spread best practices. Collaboration works – a subset of the CQIs have saved an estimated $1.4 billion in statewide health care costs, due to decreased complications and improved patient outcomes. The award-winning model is the first of its kind, nationally, and is internationally recognized as an innovative approach to improving health care quality and value. The CQIs and other innovative Value Partnerships programs position Michigan as a health care leader. The rapid speed in which the COVID-19 CQI could be pulled together is further proof that the platform and support provided by Blue Cross can make a big difference when emerging health crises develop. “CQIs have the ability to quickly gather important clinical information across a wide variety of hospitals. And in cases like this COVID-19 pandemic, we have found there is incredible variation in how care is delivered across hospitals,” Leyden said. “Blue Cross’ role in creating these internationally recognized programs is something for which we are incredibly proud. The CQIs provide physicians access to cutting-edge clinical data which helps them provide optimal care, reducing complications, and saving lives.” Related:
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