(LHP Graphic/Allison Bell)

BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners L.P. is investing millions of dollars that could supply the systems and services doctors and hospitals need to work more closely together.

BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, a fund managed by Sandbox Industries, Chicago, is putting the money in Essence Group Holdings Corp., St. Louis.

Essence is the parent of Lumeris Corp., the accountable care organization (ACO) software and services company that sells the Maestro health care management system.

An ACO is supposed to be a vehicle for helping doctors and hospitals work together to share the risks and rewards for caring for a patient as a whole patient, rather than getting paid one service at a home.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) gave the ACO movement a boost by requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to try the ACO approach. CMS is now setting up two ACO test programs.

BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners is a $116 million corporate venture fund sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago.

Essence already has raised $61 million in capital from investors other than BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners.

One of the other investors is Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Menlo Park, Calif., a venture capital firm that helped finance the startup of companies such as America Online, Amazon.com and Google.

Essence is not saying how much BlueCross and BlueShield Venture Partners has invested in the Lumeris project, but it says it now has a total of $70 million in capital for Lumeris.

Lumeris was one of the top 10 U.S. recipients of venture capital in the third quarter, Essence says.