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Health Organizations Join Forces Around Quit-Smoking Help

Call it Quits collaborative launches new Minnesota Clinic Fax Referral

Program Oct. 1

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Call it Quits -- a newly named collaboration among Minnesota's major health plans and ClearWay Minnesota(SM) -- is launching a new program that makes it easier for physicians and other healthcare providers to help their patients who want to stop smoking. The Minnesota Clinic Fax Referral Program begins October 1, just in time for the start of the statewide smoke-free law which also takes effect that day. This new program will allow clinics across the state to more easily refer a patient to stop-smoking phone coaching support, regardless of the patient's health care coverage.

Call it Quits includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), ClearWay Minnesota(SM), HealthPartners, Medica, Metropolitan Health Plan, MMSI, Preferred One, and UCare. The group represents all the tobacco quitlines in the state that offer phone coaching to smokers who are trying to quit.

The Minnesota Clinic Fax Referral Program allows medical staff to fax a single form to a central triage number without having to look up a patient's insurance which was required in order to get patients directed to the particular program from their plan. The patient's information is forwarded to the correct health plan (individuals without health care coverage are referred to QUITPLAN(R) Services). The patient then receives a telephone call from the appropriate stop-smoking support line to explain the program and invite the patient to enroll. In the past, for each referral, a physician had to determine the patient's health plan coverage, identify the corresponding quitline phone number, and give it to the patient. The patient then had to call to initiate the coaching.

"This program streamlines the process for everyone involved," said William Nersesian, M.D., chief medical officer for Fairview Physician Associates (FPA). "We're always working to help people keep themselves healthy and we're hopeful more people will be reached through this program."

Results from a 22-month pilot program -- funded by Blue Cross and involving all the Call it Quits collaboration participants -- demonstrated both the feasibility and the positive impact of this referral method. Fifty FPA clinics participated in the pilot program. FPA includes independent and Fairview-owned primary and specialty care clinics across the metro. Those clinics generated more than 3,000 referrals to stop-smoking coaching and resulted in a 27 percent enrollment rate.

"The pilot program showed that this is a very successful strategy to proactively connect members with the services they need to stop smoking," said Marc Manley, M.D., vice president and medical director for population health at Blue Cross. "Anytime you can remove barriers and improve the process, it's a win-win situation for the patient."

"We're thrilled to be a part of this collaboration and delighted that groups like the Minnesota Medical Association are supporting the effort by helping us get the word out to physicians," said David Willoughby, chief executive officer, ClearWay Minnesota(SM). "When physicians encourage their patients to stop smoking and offer assistance, people pay attention. We believe making it easier for them to make referrals to quit-programs will help many more smokers quit successfully."

To learn more about Call it Quits, the Minnesota Clinic Fax Referral Program or about how to stop smoking, call 651.662.4054 or visit and click on the Call It Quits icon on the home page.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
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