Blue Care Network of Michigan to Launch Pharmacogenomic Personalized Medicine Program

Michigan’s largest health insurer believes its new precision medicine initiative will lower costs and improve patient care

“Our first priority with the Blue Cross Personalized Medicine program is to ensure that a physician is able to provide the right medication, at the right dose, as early in the process as possible,” said Scott Betzelos, MD (above), Blue Care Network chief medical officer and vice president of HMO strategy and affordability in the Blue Care Network news release. “This is a real opportunity to address healthcare on a person-by-person basis that is tailored to each member’s individual needs,” he added. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Blue Care Network of Michigan has announced it will launch a new personalized medicine initiative designed to bring the benefits of pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing and treatment to its members. This move may indicate that major healthcare insurers are beginning to recognize the value of precision medicine programs that improve patient outcomes and lower overall healthcare costs.

According to the Blue Care Network website, Blue Cross Personalized Medicine is “an end-to-end precision medicine program aimed to optimize the medical benefits of specific therapies for individuals based on their genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors.”

In an April 5th news release, Blue Care Network revealed the pharmacogenomic initiative will initially launch as a pilot program. The pilot program will run through the end of 2022, with a comprehensive launch planned for January 2023.

Blue Care Network serves over six million people throughout Michigan and other states. The network has the largest network of doctors and hospitals in Michigan. Adoption of a precision medicine program by such a large insurer is expected to significantly expand the availability of precision medicine options within the state.

Genetic Testing for Informed Personalized Treatment Options

The primary goal of the Blue Care Network pharmacogenomic program is to reduce medication reactions and improve patient-specific effectiveness of medications. However, while adopting a precision medicine program is beneficial to patients, insurers may also see improved bottom lines by adopting these programs.

Though pharmacogenomics comes with an upfront cost when genetic testing is initially performed, by identifying which medication will likely result in the best outcome for a particular patient, insurers could avoid costs associated with medication side effects or from paying for a medical treatment that is not effective.

“Working closely with our members and their physicians, we are now able to cut out the guesswork and make informed decisions that lead to sustainable treatment options and better patient outcomes,” said Scott Betzelos, MD, Blue Care Network chief medical officer and vice president of HMO strategy and affordability in the Blue Care Network news release.

Blue Care Network has partnered with Minneapolis, Minn.-based precision medicine company OneOme to provide the genetic testing service. OneOme specializes in pharmacogenetic testing and, according to Detroit news journal DBusiness, will be providing Blue Care Network with this testing through its evidence-based RightMed for Populations program. This program offers testing for 27 unique genes that offer insights into how patients are likely to respond to certain medications.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership with one of the more innovative and forward-thinking health plans in the country. We’re very confident that OneOme will help [Blue Care Network] achieve [its] precision medicine program goals and reduce total cost of care and improve patient health outcomes by reducing adverse drug reactions,” said Pat McIntyre, CEO of OneOme in a company statement.

Blue Cross Network’s new Blue Cross Personalized Medicine program is the latest example of a major insurer embracing precision medicine programs that improve healthcare outcomes and lower costs.

Healthcare leaders will also want to closely follow advances in pharmacogenomic testing to ensure their providers are ready to engage in personalized care as well.

—Caleb Williams

Related Information:

Blue Care Network to Launch Blue Cross Personalized Medicine, Michigan’s First End to End Pharmacogenomics Precision Medicine Program


Blue Care Network Launches Pilot Program for Genetically Precise Medication

Blue Care Network, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s HMO Business Unit to Advance Precision Medicine

Scott Betzelos, MD

Pat McIntyre

Interviews With Precision Medicine Movers