Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans To Create Claims Database
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association on Friday announced the creation of Blue Health Intelligence, a database of claims on 79 million enrollees that will provide "a treasure trove of information that employers working with health plans can use to extract greater value for their health care dollars," CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 8/4). The database is in testing and will formally debut next year, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Forster, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 8/5).
Blue Health Intelligence will include all medical procedures and other care from 20 BCBS insurers in 34 states. Information identifying individual patients will be stripped.
At first, local BCBS insurers will provide the information to employers and will offer quality reports to doctors and hospitals on the care they provide. After the methods and analyses have been reviewed by medical professionals, insurers will offer summary reports to consumers, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Goldstein, Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/7).
Employers will be able to use the data to analyze how their workers are using health care services, the Pioneer Press reports.
BCBS officials said they also have received inquiries from pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies that would like to access the database. The data are "expected to provide a comprehensive look into how people use the health care system and what doctors are prescribing for everything from a foot ailment to a failing heart," according to the Pioneer Press (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 8/5).
The database also will enable researchers to document geographical discrepancies in services and to quickly identify safety problems associated with new drugs and medical devices. To help assess the effectiveness and safety of drugs, the association has contracted with researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities to suggest ways to study the available information.
David Plocher, senior vice president for health management and informatics at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said that about six studies already have been planned (CQ HealthBeat, 8/4).
John Lumpkin, director of health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said, "This has the potential to move us forward in our ability to give consumers the tools needed to make very difficult health care decisions" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/7).
According to Bob Greczyn, CEO of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Carolina, the database is a "very robust tool to help employers make better decisions."
BCBSA President Scott Serota says he hopes the 18 Blue Cross plans that are not yet contributing information to the database eventually will participate, adding, "[B]ut we have to sequence it. We can't load all the data at once" (CQ HealthBeat, 8/4).