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Health Insurers to Make Major Investment in Primary Care, Patients and Physicians to Benefit
Date:3/16/2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- MVP Health Care/Preferred Care and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will start working with primary care physicians who treat adults to improve the way patients receive care in the six-county Rochester area.

The health insurers are inviting up to 20 internal medicine and family physicians to participate in a three-year medical home initiative. The goal of the initiative is to enhance patient care, help maintain or reduce health care costs and to improve physicians' job satisfaction.

The initiative will cover the cost of hiring a care manager to work with the physician to make sure patients are properly managing their chronic conditions and don't have gaps in care. Physicians will be able to schedule fewer patient visits per day, having more time to spend with each patient they see.

"Primary care physicians have told us that they don't have enough time and resources to adequately coordinate care for all their patients," said Robert J. Holzhauer, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer, Excellus BCBS. "Our investment in primary care in Rochester should help physicians spend more time coordinating the right care for their patients, benefiting both patients and physicians."

"Preferred Care is pleased to participate in a community initiative to support primary care physicians and their patients," said Stephen H. Cohen, M.D., vice president of medical affairs for MVP Health Care/Preferred Care. "Improvements in the quality of care and patient and physician satisfaction will lead to better outcomes and help lower the spiraling costs of health care."

As a group, Rochester's primary care physicians who treat adults are aging and fewer medical residents are entering the field. Rochester -- along with the rest of the country -- faces a potential shortage of primary care physicians if action is not taken. The initiative hopes to increase the job satisfaction of primary care physicians and to make their incomes more competitive with other physician specialists. The goal is to encourage more medical residents to go into primary care, better serving the needs of Rochester-area patients.

What is a Medical Home?

This is the first medical home initiative to be started in Rochester, but medical homes have been growing in popularity nationally. In a medical home, physicians acquire new resources, such as the help of a new care manager, to coordinate all of their patients' health care needs as a way to maximize patients' health care throughout their lifetime.

Studies have shown that medical homes can help patients have better health and reduced mortality. Patients with chronic health conditions taken care of in medical home programs are more likely to comply with physician orders and have fewer preventable hospital admissions.

"What excites me the most about the medical home initiative is the promise of physicians returning to the joy of practicing medicine," said Joseph DiPoala Jr., M.D., of Ridgeview Internal Medicine in Irondequoit, who serves on the initiative's advisory board. "Physicians will be able to focus more on the cognitive aspects of patient care, delegating some of the nonclinical work to their staff. There is good evidence that patients' quality of life will be significantly improved as a result."

Creating a Medical Home in Rochester

Up to 20 physicians who already use electronic medical records will be accepted into the initiative. They will receive a grant to cover their startup costs and funds to cover the cost of a care manager. Physicians will also be eligible to receive enhanced reimbursements.

Eligible physicians should also have a minimum of 800 adult Excellus BCBS patients and a minimum of 400 adult MVP Health Care/Preferred Care patients, among other numerous criteria. An independent consultant will work with the physicians to help turn their practices into medical homes.

Rochester-area primary care physicians will receive invitation letters by mail, and can attend an information session or contact Excellus BCBS or MVP Health Care/Preferred Care for an application. Applications are due by April 30.

Throughout the three-year initiative, officials will review those interventions that drive improved patient and physician satisfaction, improved quality of care and decreased overall cost of care. The goal is to share successful attributes of the medical home initiative with all primary care physicians.

For more information, physicians should call Excellus BCBS at (585) 339-7705 or MVP Health Care/Preferred Care at (585) 327-2329.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit http://www.excellusbcbs.com.

Preferred Care (an MVP Health Care company) is a not-for-profit health insurer. MVP is based in Schenectady, N.Y. Through its operating subsidiaries, it provides fully-insured and self-funded employer health benefits plans, dental insurance and ancillary products, such as flexible spending accounts to 740,000 subscribers in New York State, Vermont, and New Hampshire, including 320,000 Preferred Care members in the Greater Rochester area. For more information visit www.mvphealthcare.com/press.


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SOURCE MVP Health Care
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