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Excellus awards CNY hospitals $6 million for quality improvements in 2019

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is seeking applications from nonprofit organizations in its 14-county Utica/North Country region for community health awards of up to $4,000. The Rochester–based health insurer has announced $55,000 is available for those grants. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield announced that it awarded six Central New York hospitals a total of $6.1 million in quality improvement incentive payments.

They’re among 36 upstate New York hospitals and health centers that were awarded nearly $30 million in the nonprofit health insurer’s hospital-performance incentive program.

Central New York region hospitals that participated in this program in 2019 shared $6.1 million in quality improvement incentive payments. The participants included Upstate University Hospital’s sites in Syracuse and the town of Onondaga, Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, Oswego Hospital in Oswego, St. Joseph’s Health Hospital in Syracuse, and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center in Cortland.


Since 2005, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s program has paid out more than $311 million in quality improvement incentives. Excellus is Central New York’s largest health insurer.

Areas targeted for 2019 improvement included clinical processes of care, which were focused on improvements in follow-up after hospitalization, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), surgical care, and other measures unique to each participating hospital.

The areas also included patient safety, centered on reductions in hospital-acquired infections, readmissions, and other “adverse events or errors” that affect patient care.

They also included patient satisfaction, which involved the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. It’s a national, standardized, publicly-reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care, Excellus said.

“In 2019, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s hospital performance incentive program evaluated participating hospitals on 38 unique performance measures,” Dr. Stephen Cohen, senior VP and corporate medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, said. “The best evidence that this collaboration is a success is that our hospital partners met 96 percent of all quality improvement targets.”

In addition to meeting required clinical and patient safety measures in 2019, other nationally endorsed measures and target outcomes were jointly agreed upon by each hospital and the health insurer using benchmarks established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and others.                   

Contact Reinhardt at


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