Press Release


Diabetes program is one of three designed to drive and fund better health care; programs will also help consumers find top doctors

WASHINGTON. - Top-performing doctors in Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., were recently recognized and rewarded for participating in the Diabetes Care Link program, which was launched in April of this year by the "Bridges to Excellence" coalition. Bridges to Excellence (BTE) was created to recognize and reward higher quality care and is made up of physicians, health plans and several of the nation's largest employers, including General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, UPS and Ford.

"We want doctors to know that delivering better care now has tangible as well as personal and professional benefits," said Francois de Brantes, Program Leader for GE's Corporate Health Care Initiatives, and lead coordinator of the BTE effort. "The rewards that Bridges to Excellence pays out helps doctors to reinvest in themselves and their practices to adopt the kinds of support systems necessary to deliver truly top-notch care. Good health care isn't free--our goal with BTE is to make the investment in quality a rational one for doctors."

Under the first program, Diabetes Care Link, doctors who demonstrate that they deliver excellent care are "recognized" in two ways. First, their names and practices are highlighted in physician directories distributed or made available online by participating companies to help employees and family members identify those doctors best suited for treating diabetes. In addition, recognized doctors also receive individual bonuses of $100 for each diabetic employee or eligible family member they treat. The largest such payment to date was $7,500, but larger payments are possible and, in fact, likely as more physicians participate in the months and years ahead. The first payment is one of three potential payments to be issued annually through 2005.

To qualify for reward payments, physicians' performance is measured based on an existing Physician Recognition program developed and maintained by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the American Diabetes Association. Doctors who earn recognition must show that they provide important screenings and work with patients with diabetes to control their blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid levels. Recognized physicians perform at levels well above the norm in these areas, while establishing a record of substantial, consistent improvement. For example, the rate of patients with properly controlled blood pressure increased from 50 percent in 1997 to 64 percent in 2002.

Physicians played a lead role in developing this pay-for-performance effort and devising a compensation structure that would encourage investments in quality among their fellow doctors. The diabetes initiative is the first of three areas of focus. Office systems and cardiovascular care are the other two targets of the program, with substantial incentive rewards tied to performance in each area.

"Bridges to Excellence was created to address a fundamental goal of improving the quality of health care," said de Brantes. "Recognizing these doctors and issuing their first bonuses for the Diabetes Care Link after launching the program just six months ago is proof that we're committed to achieving this goal. And this is merely the beginning. By next year, we plan to issue several more checks--and for greater amounts. It's our hope that more physicians in these communities will strive for certification and recognition for outstanding diabetes care."

Diabetes Care Link was introduced in two metro areas that are heavily populated by employees of the companies supporting the program--Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. The second initiative, Physician Office Link, will be launched in Boston later this year, and the Cardiac Care Link is targeted to launch early next year in New York State.

For more information on Bridges to Excellence or to find out how to participate as an employer or a physician, visit the program's Web site at


About Bridges to Excellence
The Bridges to Excellence coalition is a not-for-profit 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, efficient, equitable and patient-centered care. Bridges to Excellence participants include large employers, health plans, the National Committee for Quality Assurance and MEDSTAT, among others. The organizations are united in their shared goal of improving health care quality through measurement, reporting, rewards and education.

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