Is the Black Bag Really Back?

Thursday, December 15th, 2005
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

A regional health insurance company in the New Jersey tri-state area has recently been promoting its products and services through the slogan, “The Bag Is Back.”

Is it? We’ve found several instances where yes, indeed the black bag is coming back.

Take for instance, Care Level Management, which, along with six other organizations received a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services contract to operate a three-year demonstration project to help Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions improve outcomes, while reducing costs by preventing complications.

Care Level Management will provide an-around-the clock physician home visiting program in select counties in California, Texas and Florida.

In a pilot study, Care Level’s Personal Visiting Physician Delivery System has reduced acute hospital admission by an average of 60 percent, resulting in an average net savings of 30 percent in institutional costs alone to managed care payers. Additional savings are realized in hospital specialist consultation fees, ambulance, diagnostic tests during admissions, pharmacy and ER costs.

Group visits and e-visits are just some of the other ways that physicians are providing more personalized, more convenient access to healthcare services.

At Kaiser Permanente, group doctor visits were developed to offer pregnant women an alternative to traditional prenatal visits. They are done in a group setting, where between seven and 10 pregnant women attend in a group and are joined by a nurse and physician. A study on the group doctor visits showed healthcare costs were reduced by 7 percent, hospitalizations were reduced by 12 percent, and fewer calls were made to nurses.

With this type of group visit, I can also imagine the therapeutic effect of sharing experiences with fellow expectant Moms.

These out-of-the-box approaches might just be a way to bring that black bag back into healthcare.

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