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Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Creating More Parity Across a Tilted Healthcare Picture

Human beings are known for a myriad of different things, but most notably, they are known for getting better on a consistent basis. This tendency, in particular, has allowed us to hit upon some huge milestones, with technology appearing as a major member of the stated group. The main reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is down to its skill-set, which ushered us towards a reality that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look a little bit closer, it should become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired by the way we applied those skills across a real-world environment. The latter component was, in fact, what gave the creation a spectrum-wide presence, including a timely appearance on our healthcare block. Technology’s foray into healthcare was a moment so notable, as it came right when the sector was beginning to struggle against its own obsolete structure. This reality, fortunately for us, went through a complete overhaul under the new regime, but even after achieving such a significant feat, the emerging medtech concept will somehow continue to produce all the right goods. The same has turned increasingly evident over the recent past, and truth be told, a new development involving BCBS Massachusetts should make that trend bigger and better moving forward.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has officially roped in four healthcare organizations to sign off on multiple value-based contracts that are all going to focus on improving the overall health equity. Talk about which organizations are set to be a part of this initiative, they include Steward Health Care Network, Beth Israel Lahey Health, Mass General Brigham, and Boston Accountable Care Organization. To get the ball rolling, all four organizations will begin from constructing concrete efforts to reduce disparities in controlling high blood pressure. Steward Health Care Network and Boston Accountable Care Organization are also expected to dedicate some attention towards colorectal cancer screenings, while Beth Israel Lahey will address comprehensive diabetes care.

“Our goal is to eliminate inequities in the care our members receive and to help create a more equitable, affordable health care system. We want to engage as many physicians and hospitals in equity improvement as we can,” said Dr. Mark Friedberg, senior vice president of performance measurement and improvement at BCBS Massachusetts.

Now, there is no doubt regarding how this is actually a landmark initiative, but for the purpose of making sure that it is having the desired impact, the Center for Healthcare Organization and Innovation Research at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health will be conducting an independent external evaluation of BCBS and its partners’ health equity efforts.

But what really led the insurer to embark upon such a journey? Well, it all kicked off in 2021 when BCBS started collecting meaningful data on racial disparities in healthcare among its members and clinical partners. The results were damning, as they exposed significant inequalities in a host of medical domains, thus prompting the organization to conceive the nation’s first ever financial payment model that rewards health systems and physicians for eliminating racial and ethnic inequities in care.

“We can incentivize and enable improvements by tying payments to equity measures … Each provider organization will receive greater payments as inequities among the patients they serve get smaller,” Friedberg said.

While the BCBS is keen on testing the waters with just four organizations, it already has a plan to add more organizations in the near future.

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