Source Image: Getty/ChrisBoswell
Blue Shield of California is ramping up its efforts to transform healthcare through its new Health Reimagined initiative.
The project includes 20 separate pilots launched across four counties in the state: Butte, Los Angeles, Monterey and Sacramento. The insurer had to craft the slate of pilots to meet the needs of the diverse populations across those regions; Butte County, for example, is highly rural, while Los Angeles County is one of the most populous in the entire country.
Peter Long, Ph.D., senior vice president of healthcare and community health transformation at Blue Shield, told Fierce Healthcare that the broad effort represents the “next generation of our innovation and transformation work.”
“Our goal is to transform healthcare,” Long said. “Yes, it’s for Blue Shield members, but ultimately it’s for all Californians.”
For example, the new pilots in Butte County are in partnership with Paradise Medical Group. Long said Blue Shield assisted the medical group in rebuilding its approach to care with a digital lens basically from the ground up following devastating wildfires in the region in 2018.
So, Paradise Medical Group was well-positioned to be a community partner on a tech-focused series of pilots, he said. As part of Health Reimagined, the team will put a focus on offering both virtual visits to patients and also digital consultations between primary care providers and specialists.
In addition, Blue Shield and Paradise have a value-based payment arrangement that incentivizes the medical group to offer a more holistic approach to care. Blue Shield will also deploy its Community Health Advocate Program in the county.
Long said it was critical to find partners that have a “level of trust with Blue Shield to experiment together” in designing and launching Health Reimagined.
The selection of pilots launched in Los Angeles County, by contrast, puts a much larger focus on targeting the region’s Medicaid population. The programs are built in partnership with City of Hope, L.A. Care, Family Care Specialists Medical Group and Antelope Valley Cardiology.
One piece of that work was unveiled previously: a series of community health and resources centers backed jointly by Blue Shield and L.A. Care that aim to reach underserved communities with targeted supports, particularly for social needs.
The partners will also now offer virtual consultations and a shared decision-making platform for patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions at the participating providers. They’re also entering several new value-based payment arrangements for primary care, oncology and cardiology.
Long said that while Health Reimagined was in the works ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, which has laid bare many health disparities, the initiative becomes even more critical considering the spread of COVID-19.
“COVID is not the great equalizer—it’s the great revealer,” he said.