CQIs: A 20-year partnership

By: Debbie Reinheimer

physician discussion

Back in the late 1990s, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was investigating ways to support efforts to improve health care processes and quality.

“We realized we had to do a better job of creating value in health care,” said Thomas Simmer, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, BCBSM.

A grant from the BCBSM Foundation sparked the first statewide collaborative quality initiative – an effort to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people undergoing angioplasty procedures.

The clinical and data coordination partner for that first CQI was the University of Michigan Health System (now called Michigan Medicine), with Jack Billi, MD, an internist, professor and clinical quality improvement expert as champion at U-M.

Now more than 20 years and 17 CQIs later, the initiatives have led to process improvements, safer clinical care, prevented complications and cost savings of more than $1.4 billion.

Dr. Billi and Dr. Simmer now reflect on how the partnership between the state’s largest insurer and health care providers across the state started, the success they’ve seen as a result and how they envision future collaborative efforts.

“Both of our organizations have felt an obligation not just to take care of our individual clients and patients, but actually for the entire state of Michigan,” Billi said.

“The things that have been learned have resulted in over 300 publications and this means that the world of medicine is learning from what’s going on in Michigan,” Simmer said.

Listen to more of their conversation in this video:


This video originally appeared on MIBluesPerspectives, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan news blog.