Blues CEO Daniel J. Loepp on Detroit: ‘Best I’ve seen in probably 30 years’

Blues President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp is attending the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference this week on Mackinac Island, where he stopped in for an interview with MiVote.org and journalist Christy McDonald.

In the video interview, Loepp discusses revitalization and business investment in the city of Detroit, the upcoming completion of BCBSM’s move of 3,000 suburban employees into the city, the street lighting initiative undertaken with the city and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the impact of national health care reform.

Take a look here.

CHRT Study on Variation in Treatment of Heart Disease in Michigan Yields Coverage in National News Media

A new study from the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, a nonprofit partnership between BCBSM and the University of Michigan Health System, that finds wide variation in how providers treat coronary artery disease in different parts of the state has gained attention from the national news media.

The study, Variation in Interventional Cardiac Care in Michigan, focused on treatment methods for stable, non-emergency coronary disease — specifically, the rates of bypass surgery and angioplasty (stents) among patients with BCBSM insurance. It found that while overall rates for the two procedures dropped 19 percent between 1997 and 2008, regional variation rose considerably.

The findings raise concerns about the appropriate use of these high-risk, high-cost procedures in elective, non life-threatening situations when treatments like medication, diet or exercise may be more appropriate.

Here’s a roundup of news coverage:

This is a pretty common story in American medicine right now: A 2008 Congressional Budget Office report estimated that new technologies account for about half of the growth in health care costs. And some do indeed make us healthier: The rise of minimally invasive surgical equipment, for example, has cut the health risks and recovery time for undergoing surgery.

But some may just make healthcare more expensive — without delivering better health outcomes. And that’s not just true for catheterization labs: Another study this year looked at how this happens with prostate cancer treatments. Doctors with access to pricier proton therapies tend to use it more, even though its outcomes have proven no better than less-expensive radiation treatments. (Washington Post)

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Blues Bid Farewell to Social Media Mastermind Shannon Paul

Farewells are part of life. The warmest farewells leave the door open, and a light burning on the front porch.

So it is, as we at ahealthiermichigan.org and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan bid farewell to our friend, teacher, and the caretaker of our interactive online communities, Shannon Paul.

Shannon came home to Michigan two years ago from far-away Seattle. In that short time, she grew our online community at ahealthiermichigan.org into a forum for conversations about fitness and nutrition, and a celebration of all the great things about our Great Lakes State. She also helped Blue Cross emerge responsibly into the social Web — ensuring we were properly positioned to first listen and then engage, that we understood and adopted ethical standards for digital content, and that we developed interactive media channels that were relevant to the people who wanted to connect with our brand.

Shannon will be moving to Cincinnati to assume an exciting position that represents significant growth in her career and will be announced by her new organization in the coming weeks. She leaves a place she loves — Detroit — but I know her heart will always remain here. And so will her legacy, which endures with the growth of A Healthier Michigan and through every successful interaction Blue Cross has with our customers and stakeholders via the social Web.

Thank you, Shannon, for spending time with us. And thank you, reader, for being a valued citizen of our online community. We hope you’ll both come back soon.

Winners Announced as Blue Cross’ Win by Losing Competition Completes its Sixth Round

Participants in the first six rounds of Win By Losing have lost the equivalent weight of three elephants.

Since fall of 2009, the Win by Losing weight-loss challenge has proven to be an effective and life-changing program for BCBSM members who participate. Throughout the six rounds held to date, participants from Blue Cross customer groups across the state have collectively lost more than 40,000 pounds — the weight equivalent of three elephants.

In round six, teams lost more than 11,300 pounds. TGI Direct, last year’s back-to-back winner, once again earned their bragging rights and this year, a few new companies earned theirs. Round six winners are:

Throughout this nine-week program, Blue Cross provides participating groups with weekly motivation via email and free tools on bcbsm.com/yourhealth that are available for anyone’s use. Tools include wellness videos, meal plans, diet and exercise tips, and much more.

Round seven kicks off in August 2012. Visit bcbsm.com/yourhealth or email winbylosing@bcbsm.com for more information.

Photo by brittanyhock

Downtown Detroit Businesses Partner in Project Lighthouse to Help Ensure Safety to All Who Visit the City

Banners indicate Project Lighthouse locations that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

As more of our employees begin working in downtown Detroit, the changes to the city’s skyline are readily apparent. The company logo at the top of Tower 500 and the new façade of the building is a symbol that approximately 6,000 BCBSM employees are now working in downtown Detroit. Our Jefferson Avenue building has been given a 21st-century facelift to help accommodate the influx of Blues employees.

For those city enthusiasts who want to work and live in downtown Detroit, the Live Downtown incentives provide the financial backing needed to make that move. And they will be greeted by improved public lighting in the Central Business District of Detroit.

Still, safety is a concern for many visitors to downtown, which is why we are proud to participate in an innovative new program called Project Lighthouse. The premise for the program is simple: If you’re lost, having a safety concern or vehicle trouble, look for one of the 30 downtown businesses that display the Project Lighthouse banner. Those businesses have volunteered to be safe havens for those in need. And, if you can’t find a banner, call 313-471-6490.

“This creates a neighborhood feel for downtown Detroit and shows what is possible for Detroit. It creates a different environment and feel. This is the kind of community we are building,” said Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee in Dig Downtown Detroit.

Tip: add Project Lighthouse to your mobile phone contacts: 313-471-6490

Project Lighthouse is not a replacement for 9-1-1 for emergency situations, but gives local businesses a way to help ensure that downtown Detroit is a safe place to work, live and play.

Photo by Dig Downtown Detroit

In May, Spotlight Falls on Workplace Wellness and Avoiding the 3 p.m. Slump

It is 3 p.m. and you can feel your energy level begin to drop. With a deadline looming, napping is out of the question and you do not want another cup of coffee.

So what do you do to get over the 3 p.m. slump? Grab a few co-workers and try taking a brisk walk around the office. Even in short increments, a walk can help give you more energy, sleep better at night and stave of high blood pressure.

During the month of May, we’ll be giving special attention to the topic of workplace wellness. From giving tips on how to incorporate a little exercise into your day to showing examples of our customers who are actively encouraging workplace wellness, we want to make sure you have the tools you need to create healthy habits while you are at work.

Why We Focus on Wellness

According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, health care costs for someone with a chronic disease are five times higher each year than for someone with no chronic disease. Obese men spend an additional $1,152 per person each year on health care than their peers. Obese women spend an additional $3,613. Conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and asthma can either be prevented or easily managed by leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Jefferson Building Improvements Strengthen BCBSM’s Link With History (With Photo Slideshow)

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The March 1954 edition of the Blues’ employee newsletter devoted three pages to the company’s new Jefferson Building offices in Detroit, where some 700 employees were about to move into spacious, amenity-filled modern offices.

“As the time draws near for moving into our new building practically everyone is seeking answers to his or her own special problems,” the article began. “Highlights is going to tell you all about it — everything from elevators to electric lights and from banks to barber shops. You’ll like working in our new home.”

Nearly 58 years later, it gives me great honor to rededicate a building that serves as a living link to the Blues’ rich history of serving the people of the state of Michigan.

We recently took the wraps off our newly improved Jefferson Building. Construction crews have renovated the first floor and entrance of the building at Jefferson and Beaubien Street, adding a glass, storefront façade, modern high-tech collaboration spaces for employees and treadmill Walkstations where employees can exercise while they work.

The changes are intended to open the building up to the street and remake the “old lady,” as Highlights called it then, into a central tech hub of collaboration for our newly expanded downtown Detroit campus, which now stretches from the Renaissance Center Towers 500 and 600 to Lafayette Boulevard four blocks north.

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