Health Management Congress Update: September 14, 2006

Friday, September 15th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

What’s in a Name:

Welcoming attendees of the 2007 Health Management Congress, congress co-chairman Dr. Thomas J. Foels, associate medical director, Independent Health Association, reflected on the organization’s name change from Disease Management to Health Management Congress: “We are moving beyond managing illness to managing the entire continuum of care,” he said, and the new congress name reflects this direction.

Disease Management Industry Update: 2006 and Beyond

Four panelists shared their views on the challenges facing the disease management industry. One trend is a move toward a “patient-centered medical home,” a concept being refined by the American College of Physicians, represented on the panel by Michael S. Barr, M.D. Dr. Barr said his organization is focusing on improved quality of care, and in particular, improved quality of primary care medicine.

Dr. Alan Spiro, vice president and chief medical officer of Anthem National Accounts, a Wellpoint company, fears that the industry has become so focused on metrics “that it is missing the people.” “We’re falling down on engagement,” he told the congress. “Our goal should be to create simplicity in the system — provide a single phone number and point of contact for members and patients.” He said his organization is utilizing the concept of “primary nurse” who is the single telephonic contact for a patient. To hear a follow-up interview that HIN conducted with Dr. Spiro, click here.

Heard Around the Health Management Congress…

Reaching Out and Improving Diabetes Outcomes: After implementing an interactive voice response (IVR) system from the Eliza Corporation that makes contact with participants in its diabetes disease management program, MVP Healthcare has nearly doubled member engagement and increased member satisfaction with the automated outreach calls. (The company was formerly using live callers to reach out to members.) The effort identified 20 percent of members who experienced depression in conjunction with their diabetes. Also, of the 80 percent of members who felt that they were in control of their diabetes, the outreach identified significant numbers who had not had required tests (Microalbumin, LDL, HbA1c) in the last year. The diabetes outreach program provided physicians with actionable information about the member, which has been positively received by the providers. The system has the ability to “remember” past interactions to create ongoing dialogues with patients. (From Jerry Salkowe, M.D., vice president of clinical quality improvement, MVP Healthcare.)

Addressing Pharma Non-Compliance: In response to rising pharma costs in the early nineties, Pitney-Bowes put all generic and brand name drugs for asthma, diabetes and heart conditions in Tier I of its pharma coverage. By lowering the costs for drug therapies addressing chronic conditions, Pitney-Bowes improved pharma compliance among its 35,000 employees worldwide, according to J. Brent Pawlecki, M.D., the company’s associate medical director. He shared this strategy during a pre-congress workshop, “Harnessing the Power of Value-Based Healthcare – Managing Employee Health Throughout the Care Continuum.”

Addressing Cultural Considerations in Program Development: In the same session, Jenn Archure, senior director and team leader of Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceutical’s Healthy Directions program, described how her team customized the program for various locations. For example, when Pfizer launched the effort in Puerto Rico, families of employees were invited to share a nutritionally correct meal on company premises.

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