CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee today announced the rollout of Well + Wise, a personalized, advocacy-based approach to health that will redefine how the company serves its members and engages health care clinicians in the future.

Personal health advocacy is a new model of service that uses multiple technologies to engage BlueCross members to adopt healthy lifestyles and enable them to make informed medical decisions. Supplying medical information, offering incentives for member engagement, and encouraging a cooperative relationship with an individual’s medical clinician are all part of the new model. The anticipated result is improved quality of living and lower health care costs.

BlueCross will deploy a pilot version of Well + Wise to its employees and certain accounts this fall. An expanded program will be available for a broader group of BlueCross members in early 2009.

“This is a game-changing approach to health care,” said Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross. “We currently participate in a system that has a sick care mindset instead of one that is focused on overall health. Well + Wise will allow us to become advocates and facilitators for people and enable us to create positive interactions with them throughout the health care continuum.”

Rod Wolford is leading the efforts to develop a more patient-centric model of care as president of BlueCross’ new personal health advocacy business unit. He will serve as executive vice president of the company while retaining his role as CEO of Gordian Health Solutions, Inc., a Nashville-based health and wellness company wholly owned by BlueCross.

According to Gregg, Wolford’s 35 years of experience in and knowledge of the health care industry and its varied issues make him the ideal person to explore this next frontier in addressing health care quality and affordability.

“The U.S. health care system is extraordinary in its ability to treat sickness but it is also extraordinary in its lack of focus or resources applied to lifestyle and prevention that could avoid the high cost of sickness,” explained Wolford. “In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently reported that only five cents of every medical dollar spent in this country goes to keep consumers healthy.”

Tennessee is at the top of some dubious lists, coming in second in prescription drug use, third for obesity prevalence in the nation and fourth in adult tobacco use among all the states. All of these contribute to Tennessee’s current 46th place in health rankings among the states.

“We have a responsibility to our members, our accounts and the entire state to improve our rankings and overall health status,” Gregg added. “As a health care company we must advocate for good health decisions and become a valued resource in the decision making of the consumer and clinician.”

Wolford noted that BlueCross’ move toward advocacy is already underway with the support and resources of Gordian, a leading employee wellness company; Shared Health, one of the nation’s largest public/private health information exchanges; and Trizetto, the nation’s foremost provider of information technology solutions that enable payers and other constituents in the health care supply chain to improve the coordination of benefits and care for health care consumers.

“With a focused commitment to change ourselves aided by the technical and health expertise of the resources we have built, BlueCross has the ability to transform itself into a new model of health insurance and achieve the goal of creating a new model for its members that encourages healthy lifestyles and informed involvement in their medical decisions,” Wolford said.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee offers its clients peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for both its 3 million Tennessee-based members as well as consumers across the country. Through its personal health advocacy approach, BlueCross is developing patient-centric products and services that positively impact affordability, patient safety and quality. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.bcbst.com.