CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members will now have access to two new measurements in assessing the quality of care they receive from their doctors. On March 3, the company added screenings for childhood immunizations and monitoring of cardiovascular conditions to its existing online suite of eight preventive quality measures.

“These newest additions to our physician quality and cost tool help expand the available information that our members can access in making important decisions about their health care,” said Dr. Tom Lundquist, vice president of performance measures and improvement for BlueCross. “We continue to respond to the marketplace demand for quality and cost data and these latest measures are part of BlueCross’ ongoing efforts to meet that demand.”

The new measurements are designed to help prevent diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella, and to better manage coronary artery/heart disease. According to Lundquist, these measures were selected by BlueCross, and reviewed by an advisory panel of physicians, based on their ability to reach crucial segments of the population and positively impact their health status.

As recently as 2009, the United States experienced an outbreak of measles, a highly-contagious disease that has been technically eradicated in America for nearly a decade. Lundquist noted, “In selecting the immunizations as a quality measure, we realized that the health care community must remain vigilant in ensuring children receive the proper vaccinations to stop these preventable diseases.”

Additionally, the immunization quality indicator pulls information from the State of Tennessee’s immunization registry. This supplements BlueCross’ externally-validated claims data which is used to assess physician quality.

All the measurements in BlueCross’ physician quality tool have been endorsed by independent national organizations such as the NCQA, and are based on nationally recognized guidelines for effective care.

BlueCross members can access the quality and cost measurement tool through the provider directory on bcbst.com. Each quality measure contains symbols to indicate whether a doctor is above or below the specialty average for a specific measure.

The BlueCross Physician Quality and Cost Transparency program rolled out in the fall of 2008. Working in close collaboration with a statewide physician panel and other parties such as state and county medical associations, BlueCross initially identified and introduced eight preventive quality measures: chlamydia screening for women, colorectal cancer screenings, mammography, cervical cancer screening, HBA1C testing for diabetes, LDL monitoring for diabetes, monitoring for diabetic nephropathy, and diabetic retinal exams.

Since the program launch, the physician quality and cost tool has been visited nearly 50,000 times by BlueCross members seeking data on the quality and cost of the medical treatments and services they receive from their doctors.

“It’s our hope that as we increase the number of quality measurements in conjunction with cost data, that more of our members will take advantage of this effective consumer tool,” Lundquist stated. “And that their increased awareness and engagement will lead them to better health and lower future costs.”

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with 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 its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.