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Patient-Centered Medical Homes Can Improve Care, Reduce Costs; Independence Blue Cross Medical Executive Discusses Innovative PA Program With Nation's Health Care Policy Makers

Talk at National Governors Association Center meeting highlights IBC's participation in Governor Rendell's Chronic Care Initiative in southeastern PA

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross senior vice president of Health Services Richard Snyder, MD, yesterday showcased Pennsylvania's first Chronic Care Initiative to approximately 100 national health policy advisors at the National Governors Association Center meeting for Best Practices in New Orleans. Launched last May in southeastern Pennsylvania, the initiative seeks to enhance and personalize the way primary care physicians practice medicine, and improve not only their patients' experiences, but also their health.

The program combines features of the "chronic-care model" and also the "patient-centered medical home". Both build upon basic health care management techniques such as:

  • ensuring that patients are seen when they need to be seen;
  • educating patients more carefully and completely about their conditions;
  • helping patients better care for their illness;
  • facilitating more open and frequent communications between patient and physician using secure emails and telephone calls.

The medical home model goes a step further with the use of electronic medical records, high-tech patient scheduling systems, electronic prescribing, and a coordinated team approach at the primary care doctor's office -- all in the interest of improving patient care. The model is also dependant upon the use of nationally recognized quality measures as the key to better quality health outcomes.

Dr. Snyder and others gathered to address the challenges facing the U.S. health care system, particularly among primary care physicians, and to share the benefits of the medical home as a major part of the solution. Dr. Snyder explained how different stakeholders -- patients, physicians, insurers, and others -- can work together to improve the way physicians give and patients receive care.

"We must emphasize quality and value in health care -- giving people the tools they need to better understand their own health care needs, live healthier lives, and navigate the system to seek out the best value for every dollar they spend," says Dr. Snyder. "With the medical home model, doctors can better engage with their patients, helping them become more accountable for their own health, and ultimately feel healthier."

Dr. Snyder highlighted the progress of Southeastern Pennsylvania's Collaborative as part of the state's Chronic Care Initiative. The Collaborative, which includes 32 primary care practices, is the first of its kind in the nation where competing health plans -- commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid -- work with health care providers and regional health care leaders to create a unified way to pay physicians that more closely aligns incentives with how they deliver care and improve patient experiences and health outcomes.

According to Dr. Snyder, the Collaborative is now among the largest of its type in the country, with more than 220,000 patients enrolled in the first of four scheduled rollouts across the Commonwealth. Physician interest has been very high and a number of practices are successfully implementing patient report systems in their offices to help identify patient needs to better manage conditions like diabetes or asthma. To complement this effort, IBC is launching a Clinical Alert program -- available to participating network providers -- that electronically notifies physicians at the time of an appointment when a patient has missed an important health screening test or hasn't been taking his or her medications as prescribed, based on IBC's medical, lab, and pharmacy data.

Also, with the help of health coaches trained in quality and process improvement, physicians and their staff receive personalized training that can help them make changes needed to provide the highest quality service and care.

"We believe this collaborative will fundamentally improve the delivery of health care in Pennsylvania, improving satisfaction of patients and providers while improving health outcomes and, ultimately, reducing costs," says Dr. Snyder. "By demonstrating the effectiveness of the medical home model in caring for chronic conditions while providing equitable compensation that supports this approach, it is also our hope that this collaborative will serve as a national model to help transform and reform our country's health care system."

A compilation of PCMH pilot and demonstration projects, like PA Governor Ed Rendell's Southeastern Pennsylvania Rollout as part of the Chronic Care Initiative, is available by clicking the link, or copying and pasting the link into your browser:

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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