Tulane and Blue Cross Join Forces to Improve Louisiana Healthcare

Nov. 21, 2016

Two of Louisiana’s premiere institutions have created a powerful and innovative partnership designed to improve healthcare and healthcare delivery across Louisiana.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Tulane University have created the Partnership for Healthcare Innovation, an unprecedented level of cooperation between the insurer and a university.  The venture will find solutions for healthcare issues in Louisiana, where a disproportionate share of the population suffers from diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

“Researchers from across Tulane are exploring different facets of these healthcare challenges,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robin Forman. “This new partnership will combine their ideas, questions and analysis with the deep expertise and experience of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana to yield new insights and innovative solutions in healthcare delivery.”

Blue Cross President & CEO Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi said, “This collaboration is a tremendous opportunity. We are working with Tulane to share data, develop research projects and deliver findings to consumers, business owners, healthcare professionals and policymakers across our state—all with the goals of driving innovation and improving how our healthcare system works.”

The two organizations recently held an inaugural workshop at Tulane where nearly 100 people gathered to exchange information about the resources each can offer the partnership. John Maginnis, vice president of Corporate Communications at Blue Cross, told the crowd it was important to understand why they were there.

“There is a health crisis here in Louisiana,” Maginnis said, noting that Louisiana has the highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 36.2 percent, as well as ranking No. 4 in obesity for children ages 10 to 17,  No. 5 for adult diabetes, No. 4 for hypertension and fifth worst for heart disease.

Maginnis also said Louisiana has six of the 10 highest-spending Medicare markets in America. “For these compelling reasons, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Tulane University are coming together with a mission of transforming healthcare in this state—and beyond,” he said.

The original steering committee for the partnership, made up of representatives from both Blue Cross and Tulane, brainstormed an extensive list of potential projects for the group to consider. As examples, the School of Science and Engineering might examine issues related to telemedicine, while Public Health and Tropical Medicine could develop simulations and mapping tools for anticipating health threats. Several collaborations, formal and informal, have already taken place, and a research project on medication adherence—headed by a Tulane professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and a Blue Cross clinical pharmacist—is ongoing.

Attendees at the Oct. 19 event heard updates on those projects and were given handouts for submitting project ideas they would like to see developed. The original steering committee that saw the partnership through its inception has divided itself into two committees—one devoted to research, data and analytics and the other to education and community outreach—that will evaluate submissions, choose projects to help develop and work with the researchers as needed.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana 
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We are an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the health and lives of Louisianians. With our subsidiaries, HMO Louisiana and Southern National Life, we provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to one out of four Louisiana residents. We’re the only Louisiana insurer that offers plans in every parish. We also provide every customer with comprehensive wellness education, programs and services to help them live healthier lives. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, we have eight regional offices to serve our customers around the state.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is dedicated to transforming the healthcare industry in Louisiana into one that delivers high-quality health outcomes for our customers with top-notch service at more affordable costs. Our reputation for exceptional service and prompt payments, as well as the hard work of our 200+ in-house doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and dietitians, keeps both customer and provider satisfaction high. Surveys by the Louisiana State Medical Society and the Louisiana Hospital Association consistently rank Blue Cross the best company providers do business with.

Blue Cross is deeply committed to the communities we serve. We invest both time and money in the health and wellbeing of Louisiana children by supporting more than 200 charitable organizations. We invite and encourage all Louisianians to visit our website or talk to us on social media through our online hub.

About Tulane University
Founded in 1834, Tulane is one of the most highly regarded and selective independent research universities in the United States. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Tulane takes pride in being a part of this select group of universities with “preeminent programs of graduate and professional education and scholarly research.” Its schools and colleges offer undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the liberal arts, science and engineering, architecture, business, law, social work, medicine and public health and tropical medicine.

With 4,400 employees, Tulane is the largest private employer in New Orleans. The university is dedicated to attracting and retaining the very best faculty, staff and students as it moves forward toward a goal of universal recognition as one of the world’s most preeminent educational and research institutions.  Tulane University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, doctorate and professional degrees.

Research in many disciplines has flourished at Tulane through the establishment of centers such as the Newcomb College Institute, the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Middle American Research Institute, the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, the Murphy Institute, the Payson Center for International Development, the Tulane Cancer Center, the Tulane Center for Gene Therapy and the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. The university is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with “very high research activity.” Of more than 4,300 higher educational institutions rated by the foundation, Tulane remains in a prestigious category that includes only 2 percent of universities nationwide.