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Capital BlueCross, Health Care Improvement Foundation develop collaborative with area health care systems to improve patient care

Palliative care selected as first area of focus

            HARRISBURG, Pa. (Sept. 18, 2014) – Thousands of Pennsylvanians receive medical services every day from local health care systems. Each of these facilities has its own physicians and practitioners with their own specialized knowledge gained from their own experience providing care. But what if they came together to compare notes? What if they shared what they know about what works best for patients? What if, cooperatively, they focused on improving specific categories of care?

That is exactly the purpose of a new collaborative brought together by Capital BlueCross and the Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF). A first for the central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley regions, the collaborative is focusing on improving health care safety, outcomes, and the overall patient experience by zeroing in on one important health initiative at a time.

The first area of focus that the collaborative health care system participants have agreed to work on with Capital BlueCross and HCIF is palliative care.

The aim of the collaborative is to advance the care and support of patients with advanced illness and their families across the region. Over the course of the collaborative, organizations will work together to improve the awareness and use of POLST (Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) by promoting advanced care planning conversations between health care providers and patients with advanced illness and their families, fostering shared decision-making about individualized goals of care, and ensuring the implementation of individualized health care goals across care settings.

A Regional Palliative Care Steering Committee is being formed to provide input into collaborative goals, metrics, and the curriculum for an in-person conference this fall.  The committee will continue to work together to ensure that program activities best support participating organizations and that patient outcomes are met and sustained.

“Patients have access to so many excellent health care providers throughout central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, though there is always opportunity for all of us in the industry to improve,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, Capital BlueCross senior vice president and chief medical officer. “This new collaborative with area hospitals opens a door to making the patient experience and health care outcomes in our region even better. Capital BlueCross is excited to work with the Health Care Improvement Foundation to help bring the collaborative together and advance its initiatives. And as a physician who is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, I am elated that palliative care is the first focus of this new collaboration.”

Kate Flynn, president of the Health Care Improvement Foundation, said, “We have several years of experience with a similar collaborative in southeastern Pennsylvania that is yielding successful results. By sharing best practices and leveraging the strengths of each participating organization, collaborative members can learn from each other and accelerate the adoption of proven strategies to improve patient care.”

Hershey Medical Center was an early champion of the partnership and one of the health systems involved in the selection of palliative care as the first initiative.

“As providers of health care, we can all benefit by coming together to discuss best practices and make a concerted effort to improve on our standards and the delivery of care,” said Dr. Andrew Resnick, Chief Quality Officer for Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

“Bringing together community hospitals with academic medical centers will generate invaluable perspectives on quality care that will ultimately benefit the patients in our region.”

Success of the initiative will be monitored and measured by the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance. The Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance is a non-profit that seeks to improve the quality of patient health through alliances between hospitals, physicians, health plans and other stakeholders who are dedicated to promoting responsible public reporting of health care information. More information can be found at www.pahealthcarequality.org.

About Capital BlueCross

For more than 75 years, Capital BlueCross has served residents and businesses in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley as the region’s leading health insurer. Delivering value through innovation and collaboration, Capital BlueCross continues to evolve, investing in products, services and partnerships to create an even healthier future for customers with more choice, greater convenience and enhanced quality of care. Through Capital Blue, the company’s one-of-a-kind health and wellness retail store, consumers have a place to go for in-person health insurance consultation and service, and for health and wellness information and programs, in a welcoming, convenient environment. Headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., Capital BlueCross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association employing more than 1,800 people.

About The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF)

The Health Care Improvement Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that leads health care initiatives aimed at improving the safety, outcomes, and care experiences of all patients with the hopes of facilitating the development of a high-performing health care delivery system demonstrating enhanced measures of safety, quality, and effectiveness. More information about the HCIF can be found at www.hcifonline.org.