GREENSBORO, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) will reward and recognize physicians who meet national quality of care standards under a pilot program to be launched in conjunction with the North Carolina State Health Plan.
Under the Bridges to Excellence health quality initiative, participating doctors will receive recognition and financial rewards for meeting quality standards set by the national Bridges to Excellence coalition. The State Health Plan has agreed to participate in the three-year pilot and will contribute funds to the physician reward pool.
BCBSNC is the first health insurer in North Carolina to implement Bridges to Excellence, which has programs in seven other states. The company announced the pilot program today in Greensboro at its annual Health Care Symposium for employer groups and was joined by State Health Plan officials who are collaborating on the pilot.
"We believe Bridges to Excellence will raise the quality of care for our members and State Health Plan members, as well as make a difference in the fight to reduce health care costs," said Bob Greczyn, president and CEO of BCBSNC. "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is developing Bridges to Excellence to give the concept of provider rewards and recognition a real-world test in North Carolina. It’s a perfect fit with our strategy to line up health outcomes with financial incentives and recognition so that our members receive the highest quality care in a cost–effective manner."
"Bridges to Excellence is an innovative program which brings effective care together with systems that ensure consistent care delivery," said George C. Stokes, executive administrator of the State Health Plan. "Bridges to Excellence also reinforces the State Health Plan’s goals of improving quality and increasing the value received for dollars spent on health care. We are delighted to work with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to launch this Bridges to Excellence pilot."
BCBSNC is recruiting primary care physicians, endocrinologists and cardiologists from its networks to participate in the pilot. Doctors may receive more information and apply for the pilot by visiting the provider portion of the BCBSNC website at Applications are due May 15, and physicians will be notified by July.
Physicians will appreciate Bridges to Excellence because it applies nationally recognized, evidence–based standards to the physician practice setting in a non-punitive manner, said Charles F. Willson, M.D., president of the North Carolina Medical Society.
"North Carolina physicians have a strong desire to provide the highest quality of care to their patients," he said. "The Bridges to Excellence rewards are an appropriate way to assist physicians with the investments in resources and systems to further improve quality."
Physicians may achieve recognition in three distinct programs to be eligible for rewards and recognition. All three areas are based on standards established by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA):
  • Physician office management, including clinical information systems, patient education and support, and care management
  • Diabetes care
  • Heart and stroke care
"Bridges to Excellence works because it recognizes and rewards standards-based quality in the delivery of health care," said Francois de Brantes, an officer of the not-for-profit Bridges to Excellence coalition. "Financial incentives work in all other forms of business. When we apply those principles to health care, the result is improved performance and quality, with positive implications for health care costs."
BCBSNC is launching Bridges to Excellence as a three–year pilot to determine if the approach can succeed in improving care and reducing costs. The pilot program will be limited to about 70 physicians selected on the basis of specialties offered, member volume, geographic location, budget and other factors. BCBSNC and the State Health Plan are encouraging physician practices of all sizes, including solo practitioners, to apply.
Other quality initiatives from BCBSNC include the company’s Member Health PartnershipsSM, which help members with specific health conditions achieve optimal health, and an effort with the North Carolina Hospital Association to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. The State Health Plan offers NC HealthSmart at no additional cost to improve members’ health status, enhance health care decision–making skills and reduce costs.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.3 million members, including approximately 638,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 72 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at
About the State Health Plan:
The North Carolina State Health Plan covers approximately 590,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, state hospital staff and their dependents. A breakdown of that total includes: More than 340,000 active employees; 144,000 dependents and non-Medicare retirees; and more than 93,000 retirees and their dependents, with one or more members covered primarily by Medicare. Dependents include spouses and unmarried children under age 19 (or under age 26 if full–time students). The State Health Plan is self–insured and exempt from ERISA as a government–sponsored plan. Access the State Health Plan online at
About Bridges to Excellence:
The Bridges to Excellence coalition is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient and patient-centered care. In addition to National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH), Bridges to Excellence participants include large employers, health plans, the National Committee or Quality Assurance, MEDSTAT and WebMD Health, among others. The organizations are united in their shared goal of improving health care quality through measurement, reporting, rewards and education.