Woodland Hills, Calif. — Anthem Blue Cross was recognized for its program, Applications of Indirect Estimation of Race/Ethnicity Data in Health Plan Activities, as a 2008 winner of the BlueWorks program. BlueWorks is a collaboration between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy, honoring innovation in successful approaches to improving health and wellness for members and consumers.

Through the BlueWorks program, Harvard researchers evaluate and select Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies' local programs for recognition based on their innovation, efficacy, robust design and potential for replication. Since the inception of BlueWorks in 2004, Harvard has recognized 43 Blue Cross and Blue Shield programs for their work to promote health and wellness and enable consumers to better manage their health care choices.

"Anthem Blue Cross should be applauded for its efforts to improve the quality of health care for consumers," says Scott Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. "Anthem's effort to address racial and ethnic disparities in its communities is a prime example of the great work that Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are doing to drive health and wellness and make navigating health care choices easier for consumers."

To overcome an absence of self-reported race and ethnicity membership information, Anthem's health disparities unit developed a means to estimate member race, ethnicity or language needs based on its membership demographics. The resulting indirect data estimates allowed Anthem to examine differences between racial/ethnic groups in various health indicators, such as diabetes and colorectal and mammography screening rates. Overlaying the performance data with geographic software produced maps showing health disparity "hot spots," and opportunities to implement programs to improve service and access.

"This program nicely complements our ongoing work with community organizations and providers to help reduce health care disparities," says Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross. "Data analysis to determine race, ethnicity and primary language of health plan members is essential to improving the overall quality of health care and reducing inequalities. Through this program, we have been able to analyze data and identify and develop programs, such as culturally and linguistically designed health education materials for Latino and African-American members with diabetes."

Source: Anthem Blue Cross

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