ND Blues reduce spiraling costs

State's medical inflation reduced by nearly half

Check out these health system vital signs: Fewer hospital admissions. Emergency room visits down significantly. Better diabetes control and coronary artery disease management. By combining sophisticated data tracking, reducing payments for hospital admissions resulting in complications, and more intensively managing patients with chronic diseases, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and health providers across the state are seeing results from an initiative launched three years ago.

The financial bottom line: Every dollar spent on the MediQHome quality initiative has saved $2.50, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota figures show. Another indication that cost-containment efforts appear to be working: Medical inflation, which had averaged 8 percent a year over a recent 10-year period, dropped to 4 to 5 percent. The program, which applies to three of every four Blue Cross Blue Shield members in the state, is highlighted as an example of efforts to simultaneously improve the quality of care and reduce spiraling costs.

“I’m extremely proud of what North Dakota is doing,” said Dr. Paul Grundy, a physician and global director of health care transformation for IBM. “It’s showing us it can be done across the entire state,” Grundy said, noting that almost all physicians in the state are participating, and all major health systems are on board.

Grundy will be speaking Tuesday in Fargo, when Blue Cross Blue Shield will be awarding North Dakota health providers for noteworthy achievements in improving the quality of care and lowering costs. "By using financial incentives, both rewards and penalties, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has aggressively pushed participation in the initiative," he said.

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