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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Joins Forces with Universities Statewide to Identify Solutions to Fragmentation and Costs in Health Care

Feb. 19, 2019

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) today announced new collaborations with 10 key research institutions across the state to advance academic research to address the critical issues created by gaps and fragmentation that lead to a high-cost health care system.

The research institutions’ projects support the company's objectives of addressing the root causes of unaffordable health care. Some of the projects will focus on a range of health care challenges, including behavioral health, vaccine adherence and leveraging claims and clinical data to evaluate past usage patterns and identify future indicators.

The multifaceted projects are part of the company's Affordability CuresSM  endeavor and will support initiatives in both Illinois and Texas that help improve quality and coordination of care delivery, balance inequities and eliminate waste in the system.

"Failure to address access and affordability of health care has real consequences. We need to challenge the status quo by bringing transformative research and ideas to the table," said Dr. Dan McCoy, president, BCBSTX. "By collaborating with a diverse set of institutions and researchers who are embedded in and understand the communities we're serving, we can better identify and develop solutions that tackle high health care costs at its foundation."

The Texas-based universities and research focus areas include:

  • Baylor College of Medicine: Examine whether programs encouraging more widespread peritoneal dialysis can improve the affordability of care.
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler: Examine the social and economic impact of undertreated mental health conditions of an underserved population in an underserved and rural region of the state. BCBSTX and the Health Science Center also will partner to develop and deliver the first of its kind jointly sponsored doctoral program in Health Administration with a focus on Population Health. In addition, a month-long residency training rotation in managed care is being offered to Health Science Center physician residents at BCBSTX locations.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center: Evaluate social and economic impact of using SMART-D (Screening, Measurement and Assessment of Response to Treatment for Depression) — a model for depression screening and treatment in primary care that uses a point-of-care web-based application to facilitate measurement-based care for depression.
  • McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston: Examine reducing health care costs in older adults by de-prescribing unnecessary, harmful and costly medications.
  • Rice University: Evaluate the impact of laws and public policies on health cost and outcomes.
  • Texas Tech University: Examine the perception of health care providers, health insurance and the concept of health care and consumers’ perception of affordability in Texas. Research will put a specific focus on Latino populations.
  • University of Texas Dell Medical School: Increase access to health care for low-access areas.
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson: Evaluate vertical integration on practice patterns and procedures to reduce unnecessary variation in health care utilization and hasten the delivery of more patient-centered, value-based care. Researchers will also explore the treatment-driven financial burden for a unique group of cancer patients whose long-term use of targeted oral anticancer medications (TOAMs) qualifies them as chronic cancer survivors and the use of telemedicine in lieu of office visits to decrease oncology costs.
  • Tarleton State University: Examine fraud detection in health claims data.
  • University of Texas at Austin: Study aimed at improving adult vaccine delivery by optimizing clinical and health information technology processes in Austin/Travis County, Texas.

In addition to partnerships with Texas universities, BCBSTX will also collaborate with the RAND Corporation on a study to examine the impacts of provider consolidation and the cost of specialty pharmaceuticals on premiums. Additionally, the company will work with Harvard University to study tiering in health plan benefit design relative to whether patients are paying more or less based on care decisions by their primary care provider.