Programs designed meet unique community needs

Published October 13, 2014

In all 50 states and Puerto Rico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies share a commitment to tackling the most challenging health obstacles facing our neighborhoods. To meet that pledge, we must recognize that the issues facing each community are as unique as the communities themselves; a community health concern in Florida might not be significant in Oregon, and a program that succeeds in Rhode Island might be all wrong for Arizona.

The Blue System is uniquely positioned to meet this challenge. With local roots in every community, we are able to identify pervasive regional issues and solutions in the way only a neighbor can, and maintain lasting partnerships with local doctors, hospitals, schools and other organizations to jointly invest in and improve the health of our communities.

We’ve dubbed that collective power to make a difference in communities The Power of Blue, and throughout the year feature examples of how it is being applied in zip codes across the nation. Today, we turn our attention to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.

According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), official data shows that in Puerto Rico, half of all adults have at least one chronic disease. As much as 66.6 percent of the population is overweight or obese, while 42.4 percent are physically inactive. PAHO/WHO reports that heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease are the top causes of death and disability. This community is also unique in the sense that a large percentage of the population relies on Government Health Plan (GHP or Medicaid.)

During 2013, Triple-S Salud stepped up its health education program for Government Health Plan (GHP or Medicaid) beneficiaries. The comprehensive initiative is designed for a population with a high prevalence of chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It also focuses on promoting breast cancer screenings for early detection.

Last year Triple-S Salud health educators offered more than 5,000 educational activities, covering the eight GHP regions. The activities included asthma family encounters, town hall meetings and mammogram clinics.

Though the program just started in 2012, Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information (HEDIS) quality indicators already have made notable improvements, including: a 16.6 percent rise in breast cancer screenings from 2012; a 19 percent rise in cholesterol screenings from 2012; a 27 percent rise in HbA1C, or glycohemoglobin tests since 2012; and a 287 percent increase in patients who achieved blood pressure readings below 140/90.

This is just one example of a BCBS company putting its unique understanding of the community it serves at work to achieve positive health results. To see more examples of The Power of Blue at work, visit