Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) and SAS will soon release new analytics software aimed at improving health coverage for North Carolina customers.

This yet-to-be-named software aims to help create products and services that are better matched to the specific health needs of customers. The idea is to help health plans provide better, more personalized care and service to customers while also holding down costs for individuals and employers.

The announcement was to be made Thursday during the 9th annual SAS Health and Life Sciences Executive Conference in Cary.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

SAS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Graham Hughes said in an industry that has not used insights to their fullest potential, BCBSNC and SAS are blazing a path to the future of health care. This SAS software will provide health plans with predictive models similar to those in other consumer-focused industries, he explained.

“By better engaging customers, health plans can provide top-notch customer service and support. This will allow the health system to deliver consumer-focused patient care,” Hughes said. “Better care often means reduced costs – the health plan wins, the provider wins; most importantly, the customer wins.”

The BCBSNC and SAS collaboration will use SAS Analytics to enhance BCBSNC’s ability to identify customers who may benefit from programs to help improve health and to anticipate the most effective ways to engage those customers.

For example, these tools may help BCBSNC determine the best way to encourage a customer to get a doctor-recommended colonoscopy, or to receive a flu shot. This information also will enable BCBSNC to develop new products, services and programs (and better tailor existing ones) to provide more value for customers.

This could mean communicating with customers in the way they find most helpful or guiding them to better health outcomes – which saves customers and BCBSNC money. Additionally, BCBSNC will use these new insights to help guide prospective individual and group customers to the health plans and related services that will best meet their needs.

“Our work with SAS addresses an issue that’s at the crux of the health care challenges we face today: improving health in order to reduce costs for our customers,” said BCBSNC Chief Medical Officer Don Bradley. “Traditionally, we’ve based health plan designs and care management programs on conventional research. Now we can look through a new lens at readily available data to create health plans better targeted to consumers’ needs….”

This collaboration is sponsored by the SAS Center for Health Analytics and Insights (CHAI), a health industry think tank focused on identifying ways of applying advanced analytics to the challenges facing the health and life sciences industries today.