Regence BlueShield Ushers in New Era of Health Care Management and Safety to Feature Patient Safety Survey Results From Local Hospitals,

Online Enrollment and Convenient Research Tools for More Informed Choices

Jul 22, 2002, 01:00 ET from Regence BlueShield

    SEATTLE, July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Following extensive market research,
 Regence BlueShield today announced the launch of its newly redesigned and
 engineered Web site,  The site was created in response to
 today's rapidly changing health-care environment, in which consumers are
 taking a more active role in care management and informed decision-making.
     "July 22 marks the launch of a long-term plan that demonstrates Regence
 BlueShield's commitment to providing its members and customers with the best
 service in the business and the tools they need to take control of their
 health care," said Mary O. McWilliams, Regence BlueShield president.
 " will provide better access to more in-depth information to help
 people make good health-care decisions."
     Regence BlueShield is the first health plan in the state to provide online
 patient safety information.  The cornerstone of the new Patient Safety section
 is in-depth hospital safety data based on the industry-recognized ratings of
 The Leapfrog Group.  Consumers can compare how well local hospitals meet CPOE
 standards (Computerized Physician Order Entry), which allows physicians to
 prescribe treatment or drug therapy electronically and helps ensure a safer,
 more accurate process; and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staffing standards.  Also
 provided are statistics on which hospitals have reached the thresholds of
 providing sufficient numbers of medical/surgical procedures, which has been
 proven to lower the number of medical errors.
     Regence BlueShield has also begun to build patient safety standards into
 its contracts with hospitals that have made investments in patient safety,
 specifically in programs such as CPOE and ICU staffing standards.  To date,
 the health plan has incorporated incentives for patient safety programs into
 its contracts with Northwest Hospital, Swedish Medical Center and St. Joseph's
 Hospital in Tacoma.
     The new site will launch with the following key features presented in an
 accessible, consumer-friendly format:
     -- User's Guide.  The interactive user's guide provides answers to
        "frequently asked questions" about Regence BlueShield health coverage.
     -- Find a Doctor.  The provider directory has been completely redesigned
        to create the new "Find a Doctor" service.
     -- Find a Pharmacy.  Members can now easily search for a local pharmacy
        with the new pharmacy directory.
     -- Online Forms.  All Regence BlueShield forms are organized in one
        distinct section to reduce hassle and paperwork.
     In the coming months, online enrollment capabilities will simplify and
 automate the health plan enrollment process.  Employees will be able to
 quickly and accurately compare and choose products, and employers will benefit
 from lower administrative costs.  In the future, Regence BlueShield members
 will be able to check the status of their claims, referrals and coverage
 online, and individual subscribers will be able to enroll via the Web.
     Regence BlueShield is the leading health plan in Washington and provides
 health-care coverage to more than 1 million members.  Regence BlueShield is a
 not-for-profit company.  It is one of 43 independent licensees of the national
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association that collectively provides coverage to
 79 million -- or one in four -- Americans.
     Regence BlueShield also is an affiliate of The Regence Group.  Other
 affiliates include Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueShield
 of Idaho and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.  Collectively the Regence
 health plans cover some 3 million members and employ more than 6,000
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SOURCE Regence BlueShield