The health care industry continued to undergo rapid change throughout 2017. As we enter 2018, we expect this period of change and transformation to continue, at both the industry and individual company levels.
As North Dakota's oldest and most trusted health insurance provider, our experience in navigating through uncertain times served us well in 2017. We were able to end the year in a financially stable position, with increased reserves per member compared to 2016.
We were also able to begin implementing a fiscally responsible plan that embraces the need for transformation to continue providing the best service for our member owners. Through a partnership with HM Health Solutions (HMHS), BCBSND will modernize our internal systems and glean best practices from other insurers that also use this system. We spent most of 2017 evaluating the HMHS platform and its potential to enable us to better serve our customers through robust technologies while maintaining our independence as a North Dakota company, and reached an agreement to finalize the contract to move forward at the end of 2017.
While no transformation is ever simple, we believe partnering with HMHS will provide the best value for our members in the long term by allowing us to access the capabilities of a 10 million-member health plan while retaining our local ownership.
The ongoing theme of transformation continued through to our BlueAlliance program, which grew to include 39 provider participants in 2017. More than 180,000 members attributed to BlueAlliance primary care physicians (PCPs) in 2017. Primary care access, depression screenings and patient experience increased by nearly 30 percent from the end of 2016 to May 2017.
We've been a North Dakota company for more than 75 years and take great pride in being an active supporter of the communities where we live and work. In 2017, our employees volunteered 2,700 hours to community projects through Blue&You, our employee volunteer program. BCBSND Caring Foundation is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of North Dakotans through a series of impactful partnerships and grant programs. In 2017, 10 rural communities were awarded grants focused on a range of wellness programs, including community health fairs, employee wellness, youth recreation and more.
We continue to remain focused on delivering the best service and care for our members while making the transformations needed to help North Dakotans achieve and maintain good health. Thank you for continuing to inspire us to do our best.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota