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New "Trustee Advantage" Program Aims to Improve Quality of Care in Five Massachusetts Hospitals

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Governance Program Awards Five $50,000 Grants to Hospitals to Address Quality of Care

BOSTON — February 3, 2008 — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) today announced the grant recipients of a new program designed to help hospitals improve the quality of care they provide to patients. Trustee Advantage is a one-year program designed to work in partnership with trustees of grant-winning Massachusetts hospitals to advance quality and safety improvements. The program includes a coaching experience, an in-depth practicum, and participation in a peer learning environment with other grant recipients — culminating in the development of an audacious goal or statement of aim to dramatically improve the quality and safety of the hospital. One example of an "audacious goal" might be a commitment to eliminate medical errors in the hospital.

Five $50,000 grants have been awarded by BCBSMA with the hospitals each matching 50% of that (or $25,000) — with a total of $375,000 invested in the program. Trustee Advantage Awarded Hospitals are: Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital - Needham; Emerson Hospital, Harrington Hospital, Lowell General Hospital, and Winchester Hospital.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is committed to partnering with hospitals and their trustees to ensure our members receive safe and effective care, said Cleve Killingsworth, BCBSMA's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We believe that improving the quality of care — by addressing the overuse, underuse, and misuse of health care services — is the most promising way to moderate the growth in health care costs."

The One-Year Trustee Advantage Program Includes:

  • Coaching — a six-month engagement with a governance and quality expert of the hospital's choosing. The coach will work with the CEO, Board and Quality Committee to increase their effectiveness as champions for quality care. The process will conclude with the development of an audacious, trustee-supported goal, or statement of aim, to dramatically improve the quality and safety of the hospital.
  • Experiential learning — a program or experience of each hospital's choosing that will build Board quality improvement expertise through first hand observation of the front-line challenges in delivery of care.
  • Learning Community — The CEO, Board Chair, and two other trustees will participate in quarterly roundtable discussions with other grantee hospitals in a peer learning community. An expert facilitator will guide the discussions.

Grant-winning hospitals demonstrated: a strong commitment to quality and safety improvements; a receptive culture, particularly at the board and executive levels; a willingness to commit hospital resources beyond funding; and a proposal that reflected high potential for effective change.

Trustee Advantage is the latest BCBSMA program focused on engaging hospital boards in improved quality and safety outcomes. With education as the initial step, the first program of the Governance initiative was a quality curriculum created by the Center for Healthcare Governance (an arm of the American Hospital Association) in partnership with the Massachusetts Hospital Association. The educational pilot program was met with positive feedback, and participants indicated they were looking for support to take the next step. Trustee Advantage was developed as an answer to that next step.

The program will also include an education series launched in mid 2008 called Trustee Insight, which features health care leaders from throughout the country who will share their personal experience and best practices related to hospital boards. Speakers will explore aspects of governance that are essential to quality improvement and have been successfully implemented in boardrooms in some of our nation's leading health care institutions. The sessions are open to Massachusetts trustees, CEOs, and other senior administrative and clinical leaders.

Comments from Award Winners:

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital — Needham:
"We are very excited about receiving a Trustee Advantage grant because it recognizes our continuing commitment to quality and safety. Last year we, along with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, signed a commitment to eliminate all preventable harm by 2012. We know the Trustee Advantage grant will afford us the opportunity to partner with others who will help us reach this audacious goal." - Seth Medalie, chair, Board of Trustees, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham

Winchester Hospital:
"As a community hospital, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of quality and safety. We appreciate BCBSMA for its foresight in supporting this important endeavor. Our participation in the Trustee Advantage Program will enable us to share best practices with peer hospitals, which will create a broader pool of expertise from which we will all benefit." - Richard Iseke, MD, chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs at Winchester Hospital

Harrington Hospital:
"Harrington is very pleased to have been recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield with the Trustee Advantage grant award. Blue Cross has made a commitment to a leadership role in advancing improvements in health care quality and safety programs. Harrington looks forward to working with the health plan to promote and support these important efforts. We will use the grant award and the matching funds by the hospital to build and enhance expertise of the board and management in quality improvement and safety improvement programs at Harrington." - Douglas Crapser, Harrington Chief Operating Officer

Emerson Hospital:
"Emerson Hospital and its Board of Directors are enthusiastic about benefiting from the experience of national leaders in quality and patient safety. At Emerson, we are proud of everyone who cares for patients, and we are grateful for the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield as we enhance our Board's quality improvement efforts." - Christine Schuster, Emerson Hospital president and CEO


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( ) was founded more than 70 years ago by a group of community-minded business leaders. Today, headquartered in Boston, BCBSMA provides coverage to more than 3 million members, 2.5 million in Massachusetts. BCBSMA believes in rewarding doctors and hospitals for delivering safe and effective care, and in empowering patients to take more responsibility, become educated health care consumers and become stronger partners with their doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.


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