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Blues, Henry Ford Health, Other Hospitals Launch Spine Surgery Effort

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, Henry Ford Health System and eight Michigan hospitals have launched an initiative to measure and improve the care and outcomes of patients who undergo spine surgery, working to reduce complications and the need for repeat surgeries.

The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative will collect and analyze data on patients at participating hospitals who have spine surgery for pain relief and function restoration. Neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons will review the data and share observations to develop best practices aimed at reducing complications and the need for repeat surgeries, and improving patient outcomes, which can lower the cost of care.

"This new initiative is modeled after other statewide hospital collaborations that bring together the Blues with more than 70 hospitals across Michigan to increase safety and improve the quality of medical and surgical procedures for more than 200,000 patients each year," said David Share, M.D., senior vice president, Value Partnerships, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. "Spinal surgery affects thousands of patients a year, and we're excited to be working with Henry Ford Health System as the coordinating center for this program."

Medicare spending for inpatient back surgery more than doubled from $75 million in 1992 to $482 million in 2003, according to an analysis from the Dartmouth Atlas project.

This initiative is the 15th statewide hospital collaborative quality initiative the Michigan Blues has launched in conjunction with hospitals and physicians to examine and improve common and costly medical and surgical procedures. It is the first such initiative where Henry Ford Health System will serve as the coordinating center. The coordinating center is led by practicing Michigan-based physician leaders who work with medical and analytical staff to examine the link between processes of care and patient outcomes. This analysis helps improve the overall quality of care patients receive, and helps physicians reduce costs and improve patient health outcomes.

"As the coordinating center, we'll be collecting relevant clinical data, and will be working with participating hospitals to structure, manage and analyze the information," said Stephen Bartol, M.D., MBA, Henry Ford Hospital Orthopaedic Surgeon and MSSIC co-director. "We are designing a data registry for this program that will allow participating surgeons and hospitals to do 'real time' analysis of their own results relative to their colleagues around the state."

"The Michigan collaboration enables us to review and share our results, which will help us develop processes and practices that improve care for patients," said Muwaffak Abdulhak, M.D., Henry Ford Hospital neurosurgeon and MSSIC co-director. "We can then compare our observations at a national level to make significant impact."

Participating hospitals include:

Borgess Medical Center, Kalamazoo
Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital
Marquette General Hospital, Marquette
McLaren Regional Medical Center, Flint
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor
St. Mary's of Michigan, Saginaw
Sparrow Hospital, Lansing

The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative is part of Value Partnerships, a series of initiatives among physicians, hospitals and the Michigan Blues, all aimed at improving quality and safety in medical care. For more information on this award-winning program, go to

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit .

Henry Ford Health System includes the 1,200-member Henry Ford Medical Group, seven hospitals, Health Alliance Plan (a health insurance and wellness company), Henry Ford Physician Network, a 150-site ambulatory network and many other health-related entities throughout Southeast Michigan, providing a full continuum of care. In 2012, Henry Ford provided $234 million in uncompensated care. The health system also is a major economic driver in Michigan and employs more than 23,000 employees. Henry Ford is a 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. The health system is led by CEO Nancy Schlichting. To learn more, visit

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