Blue Cross Chief Medical Officer Co-Authors NEJM Catalyst Paper on Need for More, Better Data Exchange in Healthcare

May 16, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. – As the healthcare industry becomes more digital and records are kept electronically, the ability to securely share information across different IT systems and software programs is critical.

Health insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana are in a unique position to improve information flow throughout the healthcare system, by incenting providers through value-based reimbursement and by setting standards providers can follow for exchanging data.

This was the premise of the recent paper “Promoting Interoperability: Rules for Commercial Payers,” published May 9 in NEJM Catalyst, a sister publication of the New England Journal of Medicine.  

Blue Cross Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Vindell Washington co-authored the paper, along with Craig Sammit, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Peter J. Pronovost, chief clinical transformation officer of University Hospitals and Y. Claire Wang, vice president for research, evaluation and policy at New York Academy of Medicine. 

Patients will often seek care from different doctors and clinics, but if it is all covered through the patient’s insurance, that lets the insurer encourage information sharing, Washington explained.

“In the traditional fee-for-service system, the financial incentive was for providers to run tests or do extra services to get more patient data because they could be reimbursed for it,” Washington said. “With all the electronic data exchange methods we have now, insurers can change the financial incentive to promote information sharing and make it more cost effective for a provider to get information from us or from another health system, even if it's a competing health system.”

“Information sharing is good for everyone in the healthcare system – patients, providers and payers,” Washington added. “It spurs innovation and it lets us develop targeted interventions to keep the community well and help people who have serious health needs.”

Washington also recently served as a subject matter expert reviewer for a special publication of the National Academy of Medicine, “Procuring Interoperability: Achieving High-Quality, Connected, And Person-Centered Care.”

Washington, who is an emergency medicine physician, joined Blue Cross in 2017. Previously, he was National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. In that role, he led nationwide efforts to implement and use emerging health information technology and advance the electronic exchange of health records.

In this video, Washington summarizes key points of the NEJM Catalyst paper. 

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. We invest both time and money in the communities we serve, supporting the health and wellbeing of Louisianians through more than 200 charitable organizations.

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. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana also provides Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans and is a partner in offering the Healthy Blue Medicaid Managed care plan. Louisiana is the only state where we operate, with offices in every major region to serve our customers.

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

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