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Blue Cross and Blue Shield to make cost and quality info available in huge new database

Consumers eager to review cost and healthcare quality data before making a care decision are in luck. If they are covered under the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) umbrella, that is.

All 36 BCBS companies pledged to pool their cost and healthcare quality data to the BCBS Axis, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced. The BCBS Axis is a database of healthcare information containing data from 96% of U.S. hospitals, covering 2.3 billion yearly procedures. BCBS companies can distribute this data, which is derived from every U.S. zip code, to its affiliated physicians and patients.

The cost aspect of this announcement shouldn’t be overlooked, especially now that the U.S. healthcare industry is moving towards a value-based care model. SearchHealthIT contributor Evan Albright looked into this development at this year’s Healthcare Financial Management Association conference. He learned that providers that adopted population health care models learned they need to be more precise is their pricing estimations when formulating their budgets. They might find that easier if they had access to a database such as the BCBS Axis.

The BCBS Axis should allow BCBS companies to provide patients with even more information to help them locate the best physician to treat them and make more personalized care decisions, though it doesn’t appear patients will have direct access to the data they desire. The BCBS Association’s announcement stated that by using BCBS Axis data, “BCBS companies also help consumers gain access to reliable and accurate information on more doctors, hospitals and procedures.”

The BCBS network — which covers one in three Americans, contains data from 92% of U.S. physicians and hosts more than 700,000 patient reviews — is the “largest aggregated data resource” in the American healthcare industry, the association said. “Through our actionable data, and the speed at which it is available, we are leading a transformation of the healthcare system to improve the quality and affordability of care,” Scott Serota, president and CEO of BCBSA, said in a release.