Health coaches provide support for people with chronic illness; reduce unnecessary hospitalizations
Philadelphia, PA – Independence Blue Cross (IBC) today announced that it is collaborating with Health Dialog, a leading provider of health care analytics and decision support, on a new pilot program that will offer health coaching to people with chronic illnesses to help them stay well and out of the hospital.
Through the pilot, four primary care practices serving 10,000 patients in the Philadelphia region will work with a dedicated health coach who will communicate with patients who are at increased risk for acute health problems, such as diabetics with high blood pressure or severe asthmatics. The four practices are patient-centered medical homes, a new model of care that brings a personalized team approach to primary care. Medical homes are different from other primary care practices in that chronically ill patients can be seen more quickly, often have direct communication with their doctors through secure email, and are cared for by a team of health educators and medical staff who help them stay well.
“We are excited to launch this pilot to provide health coaches who can help primary care practices better care for their chronically ill patients and improve their health,” said Dr. Richard Snyder, IBC senior vice president and chief medical officer. “Most practices are so busy that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to proactively contact chronically ill patients to check whether they’re having problems, remind them to take their medication, or ask if they got the tests that were ordered and kept appointments with other doctors. Health Dialog coaches become an extension of the practice providing extra support.”
The health coaches, provided through Health Dialog, are trained nurses, dietitians, and/or respiratory therapists who can offer patients a variety of support, including health education, reminders about filling prescriptions and scheduling follow-up care, and guidance about when a condition warrants further or immediate treatment. Health coaches also help build self-reliance skills and confidence in managing chronic illnesses.
“We recognize that medical practices are going to need innovative tools and solutions to improve the quality of patient care as health care reform continues to evolve,” said Peter Goldbach, MD, chief medical officer at Health Dialog. “This pilot is an important step in providing better primary care and we are pleased to be working with IBC on this unique and timely initiative.”
IBC was an early supporter of Pennsylvania’s Chronic Care Initiative, which launched in 2008, and set out to transform primary care by allowing doctors to focus on what patients most want and need: more personal, coordinated, and immediate care. Since then, IBC has worked closely with primary care doctors to promote adoption of the medical home model. IBC’s network now includes nearly 200 medical homes, serving approximately 500,000 IBC members. IBC has collaborated with Health Dialog to offer members industry-leading health care management support since 2003.
The four primary care practices that are participating in the pilot program have received the highest level of recognition as medical homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), which sets the criteria by which medical practices are credentialed and measured. To meet NCQA’s medical home standard, practices must meet certain requirements that include access to care, patient education, and coordination of care with other health care providers.
About Health Dialog
Health Dialog Services Corporation is a leading provider of healthcare analytics and decision support. The firm is a private, wholly-owned subsidiary of Bupa, a global provider of healthcare services. Health Dialog helps healthcare payors improve healthcare quality while reducing overall costs. Company offerings include health coaching for medical decisions, chronic conditions, and wellness; population analytic solutions; and consulting services. Health Dialog helps individuals participate in their own healthcare decisions, develop more effective relationships with their physicians, and live healthier, happier lives. For more information, visit www.healthdialog.com.