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Purchaser Business Group on Health Launches Program to Connect Employees to Top-Performing Primary and Specialty Care Providers

Through Blue Shield of California, San Francisco Health Service System and CalPERS will be first users of the ‘Care Excellence Program’.

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 10, 2024) – The Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH), a membership organization of 40 of the country’s largest private employers and public entities, today announced the launch of PBGH’s groundbreaking Care Excellence Program in California. Designed to establish a gold standard in health care, this innovative program rigorously evaluates and identifies top-tier advanced primary care teams based on an employer and purchaser set of standards and shared quality metrics. The Care Excellence Program aims to make it easier for employers and purchasers to identify and collaborate with the highest quality clinicians in any region.

Blue Shield of California, recognizing the potential of the Care Excellence Program to set a new benchmark in health care quality and accessibility, is collaborating with PBGH to implement market testing and early adoption of the program. This collaboration initially will benefit the workforce of the San Francisco Health Service System (SFHSS) and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) by ensuring they have ready access to the region’s top-performing primary and specialty care providers participating in the program.

Since January 1, 2024, Blue Shield of California has invited PBGH to independently assess select Bay Area practices using the Care Excellence Program standards. Results will be used to improve care and ensure practices are working toward practicing advanced primary care within its network. This strategic move will enhance the quality of care offered to Blue Shield members by ensuring that they have access to high-quality, responsive primary care providers vetted through the program's rigorous standards.

Like the Michelin Guide's role for food enthusiasts, the PBGH Care Excellence designation recognizes care teams and clinicians for the quality and responsiveness of care and referrals they provide against robust measures. This will ensure employers, employees and health plans know which providers meet these high standards. This certification expands providers' visibility both among large employers seeking to contract directly with quality care teams and clinicians, and within health plan networks that use the PBGH Care Excellence Program.

Elizabeth Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBGH, emphasized the importance of enabling employers to provide the best possible care for their employees and their families. “Employers and purchasers value advanced primary care that effectively meets the needs of patients. The PBGH Care Excellence Program enables large, self-insured employers to connect their employees and dependents with the highest-performing health care providers in their area to deliver advanced primary care and referrals to specialists providing the highest level of quality care,” she said. “We’re excited to collaborate with Blue Shield of California to deliver this essential offering to employers and purchasers in California and see this as a critical investment toward ensuring Americans have access to the right care at the right time.”

Paul Markovich, chief executive officer at Blue Shield of California, voiced his support for the initiative. “We are proud to be an early adopter and enable the implementation and buildout of this program in California, recognizing that it represents a significant step forward in improving health outcomes and providing more equitable access to care," he said. "This program demonstrates what's possible when stakeholders in the healthcare system – purchasers, providers, and payers – come together.”

Dr. Raymond Tsai, vice president of advanced primary care within PBGH, also expressed his excitement about the program. “By aligning with pioneering health plans and companies, we facilitate access to advanced primary care practices that adopt a holistic approach to care delivery in their localities, and ensure they’re referring patients to the right specialists, ultimately leading to better clinical outcomes and patient experience.”


About Purchaser Business Group on Health

PBGH is a nonprofit coalition representing nearly 40 private employers and public entities across the U.S. that collectively spend $350 billion annually purchasing health care services for more than 21 million Americans and their families. In partnership with its members, PBGH initiatives are designed to test innovative operational programs and scale successful approaches that lower health care costs and increase quality across the U.S.

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.8 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $24 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $97 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last three years to have an impact on California communities. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit Or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook.