The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced the launch of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute (BCBS Institute), a new subsidiary of BCBSA created to address the social and environmental factors that greatly influence health and health outcomes.
A first-of-its-kind organization in scope and scale, the BCBS Institute combines a social mission with business innovation and insight to target barriers to health care that can be solved with technology and strategic alliances.
With a mission to improve health care access and outcomes, the BCBS Institute will address the “ZIP code effect,” which shines a light on transportation, pharmacy, nutrition and fitness deserts in specific neighborhoods. Through these efforts, the BCBS Institute goes beyond the walls of the traditional provider setting to reach into the daily realities of communities across the country.
“For some of our members, it can be difficult to get to a physician’s office for treatment, to the pharmacy for much needed medication, to the grocery store for nutritious food or to a safe place to exercise,” said Scott P. Serota, president and CEO of BCBSA and chairman of the board of the BCBS Institute. “We want to help lift these burdens for more Americans.”
The new subsidiary will focus on the following three key target areas:
BCBS Institute plans to improve health access and outcomes by leveraging technology and strategic alliances, officials say, focusing first on neighborhoods without adequate transportation, pharmacy, nutrition and fitness opportunities, working with partners such as the ride-sharing app, as well as pharmacy CVS and Walgreens to improve daily wellness for people outside the walls the doctor’s office.
The BCBS Institute leverages powerful data by ZIP code about social determinants of health and brings together the partners best positioned to tailor solutions to meet community needs. In collaboration over the last year with Lyft®, the BCBS Institute has made it possible to dispatch rides for patients via Lyft’s network of drivers.
This effort is a part of Lyft’s overall goals of reducing care gaps caused by transportation barriers by 50 percent within the next two weeks, an ambition the company announced at this year’s HIMSS conference in Las Vegas.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield also expanded its partnership with Lyft to give plan enrollees rides to their neighborhood Walgreens and CVS pharmacies.
In recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review noted that in May 2017, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association tapped into Lyft’s rideshare services and made them free for BCBS members in an effort to reduce the number of missed appointments resulting from patients’ inadequate access to walking, biking or public transportation routes.
As part of the expanded agreement, participating Blue Cross plans will begin to provide “no cost” transportation to Walgreens Boots Alliance and CVS Health customers in certain areas to combat the so-called zip code effect. This means the BCBS Institute leverages data by members’ zip codes about social determinants of health to draw conclusions about the area’s greater population health issues.
CVS will fund Lyft rides to pharmacies for Blue Cross customers in Pittsburgh living within select “transportation deserts,” and in a similar pilot program in Chicago, Walgreens will pay for Lyft rides for members located far from public transportation.
The announcement is part of BCBS’ shift from fee-for-service to value-based care and population health models that ensure patients receive high-quality care.