News and Events

Charlotte Health Care Collaborative Launches Bridges to Excellence Initiative to Improve Quality and Lower Costs

August 1, 2007

Physician Practices Encouraged to Apply for Incentive Program

Contact Name- Ches Gwinn
Phone - 704-347-2380 

Charlotte, NC – Beginning in 2008, physicians in and around Charlotte who provide top-quality care will receive rewards for their work thanks to the Charlotte Health Care Collaborative, a group of forward-thinking local employers, health plans and providers. The Collaborative is implementing an initiative known as the Bridges to Excellence (BTE) program, a nationally recognized effort that provides financial rewards to physicians for meeting rigorous quality standards for key aspects of care.

Charlotte Health Care Collaborative members—Belk, IBM, Duke Energy, Novant-Presbyterian Healthcare and Wachovia—believe that encouraging higher quality care will result in better patient outcomes in a cost-effective manner. Carolinas HealthCare System, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, CIGNA HealthCare, and United Healthcare are also participating in the Collaborative and believe in the results of higher quality care. 

The Bridges to Excellence program applies nationally-recognized, evidenced-based standards to the physician practice environment.  Physicians may achieve recognition in three areas to be eligible for rewards.  All areas employ standards established by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA):

  • Diabetes care
  • Heart-stroke care
  • Physician office practices (e.g. electronic records)

North Carolina is among the first major markets to implement these three BTE pay-for-performance programs in three practice areas simultaneously.  “With the addition of the metro Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte markets, Bridges to Excellence continues to be the largest national pay-for-performance program and will have a positive impact on millions of Americans in urban and rural counties,” said Francois de Brantes, president of Bridges of Excellence. The total rewards available to physicians in the state of North Carolina will be more than $5 million.

Physicians may apply for BTE certification by providing documentation that the recommended standards of care are being followed.  The NCQA and BTE web sites provide physicians with specific application procedures and assistance. Many community physicians are becoming certified across the nation, as BTE has been implemented in 17 markets with 3,000 physicians.

The Collaborative plans to implement three BTE programs by the end of 2007 and to begin paying physician rewards in first quarter 2008. North Carolina is among the three largest markets across 18 states to implement BTE

“These leading employers are not just implementing the BTE program to improve health care value for their employees and families, but they are also implementing the program to raise the quality of care for their customers as well,” said Ches Gwinn, Health Care Collaborative project manager with Aon Consulting. 

Participating employers will pay rewards to certified physicians who are NCQA certified and meet certain additional criteria. Physician rewards will be based on the number of employees and dependents covered by participating employers who are treated by each physician or group.  The eligible employees and dependents must reside within these five metropolitan Charlotte area counties: Cabarrus, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, and Union.

"This initiative does not replace but will compliment employer’s current wellness programs, like the Wachovia Healthy Connections program, which offers employees and dependents tools, programs and information services to help an individual get and stay healthy." says Jim Beaver, Wachovia’s Senior Vice President, Health & Welfare Benefits Manager.

“Even though we started this effort with a core group of companies representing diverse industries, we want to continue to enroll additional large and mid-sized companies so that a larger number of citizens will be seeing NCQA certified physicians which will encourage more physicians to become NCQA certified,” said Joe Armstrong, Belk’s Director of Employee Health Benefits.

“The Charlotte Health Care Collaborative is poised to make a difference in the quality and cost of health care in the Research Triangle Area,” said Genie Komives, M.D., senior medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.  “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has found the Bridges to Excellence model to be the right approach to health care quality incentives.  By adopting Bridges to Excellence, the collaborative is in step with a national movement that is proving to be successful.”

"As a physician, I always believe that I'm providing excellent care to my patients," explained Hayes Woollen, a family physician with the Presbyterian Cotswold Medical Clinic and president of the Novant Medical Group.  "But today physicians cannot only rely on intuition.  We benefit greatly by being able to benchmark our medical care against national standards and by objectively measuring the quality of care we provide to our patients.  And the science of defining quality medicine keeps improving and will get even better because of the positive momentum of programs like Bridges to Excellence."

"CIGNA HealthCare is a leader in providing our customers and members with the meaningful information that they need to make appropriate health care choices," stated Scott Josephs, M.D., market medical executive for CIGNA HealthCare in North Carolina.  "We are excited to be part of the RTA collaboration and encourage the use of Bridges to Excellence standards as they provide a platform from which to improve care and recognize physicians who meet or exceed agreed upon national quality measures."

To Apply for Bridges to Excellence Recognition

Physicians can obtain application and recognition information through the NCQA website at and BTE website at

To Become a Member of the Charlotte Health Care Collaborative

Employers and providers wishing to become active in the RTA Collaborative can contact Ches Gwinn at 704-347-2380 for further information.

About Bridges to Excellence

Bridges to Excellence (BTE) is a not-for-profit, coalition-based organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, and patient-centered care. BTE works with large employers, health plans, providers and a wide range of organizations that have a shared goal of improving quality and patient outcomes. BTE is a member of The Partnership for Value-driven Health Care, a group formed in late 2006 in response to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt’s call for employers to implement the “four cornerstones of value-driven health care.” For more information visit


All rights reserved. BTE 2007.

Bridges to Excellence does not endorse any particular product or service or any physician or physician group.

Bridges to Excellence relies on third -party performance assessment organizations such as the NCQA and Quality Improvement Organizations to measure a physician or physician's group performance and ability to demonstrate that they meet certain measures of quality care.