August 8, 2008

Oncologists and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Partner in National Effort to Improve Cancer Care

DETROIT, Aug. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 180 oncologists in 11 physician groups across the state are partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to gather data to improve care for cancer patients in Michigan.

The oncologists are submitting information to a national database established by the American Society of Clinical Oncology to help physicians identify what works best in cancer care. BCBSM is providing funding to defray data collection costs and to encourage physician participation.

Michigan physician organizations with specialists participating in ASCO's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative(R) will be eligible for additional payments from BCBSM for submitting cancer care treatment data to the national registry and using that data to compare their practices with those nationally, as well as for implementing improvements that lead to improved quality, coordination and efficiency in treating cancer patients.

The number of Michigan physicians participating in the oncology database is the largest of any state. The Michigan oncologists treat an estimated 16,000 cancer patients annually.

The Quality Oncology Practice Initiative is one of a series of quality improvement initiatives underway between BCBSM, hospitals and/or physician groups. Other BCBSM quality improvement initiatives with hospitals or physician groups have been launched in the areas of angioplasty, bariatric surgery, cardiac imaging, general/vascular surgery, cardiac surgery and breast cancer treatment under a statewide, multi-year program called Value Partnerships.

"Blue Cross and physician groups believe this program has tremendous potential for improving care for thousands of cancer patients. The improvements we make can spread throughout the health system in Michigan and beyond," said Thomas Simmer, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The information being collected includes chemotherapy planning, chemotherapy-related side effects, pain assessment and control, and specific measures related to the management of colon and rectal cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lung cancer (non-small cell).

"ASCO is pleased that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is recognizing physician practices that commit to quality assessment and improvement through participation in QOPI," said Allen Lichter, M.D., ASCO's chief executive officer. "As an oncologist-led program, QOPI promotes excellence in cancer care by helping practices create a culture of self-examination and improvement."

"This initiative is a valuable resource for all cancer specialists who treat cancer patients in Michigan because it promotes the sharing of best practices," said Robert Chapman, M.D., director of the Josephine Ford Cancer Center at Henry Ford. Chapman is co-leading Michigan's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative with BCBSM. "It's the first time that such a large and coordinated effort in a single state is using a national database to promote excellence in cancer care and, at the same time, rewarding physicians for these improvement efforts."

The following 11 physician organizations are participating in the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative with BCBSM:

Southeastern Michigan - Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Health System, Faculty Group Practice; Bingham Farms: United Physicians; Dearborn: United Oakwood Providers (UOP); Detroit: Henry Ford Medical Group; Royal Oak: Oncology Physician Resource (OPR); Quality Partners of Michigan; Warren: St. John HealthPartners; Waterford: Oakland Physician Network Services.

Mid-Michigan - East Lansing: Michigan State University Health Team; Sparrow Family Medical Services.

West Michigan - Battle Creek: Integrated Health Partners.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred, Community Blue and Healthy Blue Incentives PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living; Flexible Blue plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue products in the under-age-65 individual market. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit .

The Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI(R)) is a physician-led quality improvement program of the American Society of Clinical Oncology for medical oncology practices. Practices participating in QOPI abstract medical records, submit data to a central database, and receive reports containing practice-specific data and national comparison data. Designation of an oncology practice or practitioner as a "QOPI participant" indicates that the practice has successfully completed QOPI data collection and received at least one data report. More information about QOPI, including the 50 plus quality measures assessed through the program, is available at . QOPI is a registered trademark of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

CONTACT: Helen Stojic, +1-313-225-8113, or Andrea Pietrowsky,+1-313-225-5643, both of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

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