Blue Cross Blue Shield is looking to accelerate its Big Data initiatives in a big way.

All 36 of the independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies within the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) have agreed to contribute extensive data on healthcare quality and costs to Blue Cross Blue Shield Axis, the association’s data management capability.

The new commitment will exponentially increase the volume of data entered into the system, which currently encompasses $350 billion in annual claims, including 36 million provider records and more than 700,000 BCBS patient reviews. With all BCBS companies contributing information to the system, BCBS Axis will become the largest aggregated data resource for the healthcare industry and the only resource with healthcare data from every U.S. zip code.

BSBA Axis is designed to give employers a more in-depth understanding of their workers’ care needs and healthcare utilization, so they’re able to benchmark their organization’s performance to deliver better patient outcomes and offer more affordable pricing. Leveraging the comprehensive database will enable BCBS companies to help consumers gain access to more reliable information on a wide variety of doctors, hospitals and medical procedures. The breadth and depth of the data in BCBS Axis will also enable healthcare providers to analyze care delivery patterns and modify patient care to achieve better treatment outcomes.


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Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president of Strategic Services and chief strategy officer for the BCBSA, says that the company decided to expand BCBS Axis as “it became clear that there needed to be more depth to the data to ensure that it was across all zip codes. And that’s where there was an unprecedented decision, where the board said collectively, ‘yes, we need to make this investment, we need to invest in the platform so that no matter where you are that you can get this information,’” she explains.

The new arrangement means that BCBS Axis will include data from more than 2.3 billion procedures conducted annually by more than 540,000 physicians at more than 20,000 healthcare facilities. These represent more than 92 percent of physicians and 96 percent of hospitals nationwide. BCBS says its Axis system covers about one-third of all Americans, putting puts it in a unique position to provide insights and intelligence on healthcare quality and costs at the local, regional and national level.

The new arrangement benefits stakeholders across the board. “Employers will get the information they need to design benefits and provide their employees with access to affordable care,” says Sullivan. “Our members will be able to get the right information at the right time when they’re faced with critical decisions. And our provider members will have information to help them as they look at driving better outcomes and more affordable care.”

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