Humana Introduces ‘Points of Caregiving’ Program, Providing Comprehensive Resource to Nation’s 52 Million Caregivers

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUMNews) today introduced Points of Caregiving, a comprehensive resource for the nation’s 52 million caregivers. Designed as a complete caregiver’s destination, the program includes an easy-to-use interactive website, telephonic support and customized reminders to help caregivers make decisions with confidence and to find support from peers.

Research reveals that one in five American adults, many of whom have children or other dependents, provide care to a relative, friend or neighbor. Caregivers often take on this role suddenly or unexpectedly, and frequently must make major health and financial decisions quickly for the person under their care. These new challenges and critical decisions can leave caregivers puzzled and hesitant. Humana developed the Points of Caregiving program to meet this need and to provide expert support and resources.

“Caregivers play a critical support role in the U.S. health care system and often are considered the backbone of our long-term care system,” said Gail Miller, vice president, senior product development, strategy and business planning for Humana. “With Points of Caregiving, we strive to provide a supportive, interactive community that will help informal and unpaid caregivers make the best decisions.”

Points of Caregiving is available to any caregiver, from those who perform “light” care – such as helping with shopping, transportation and cleaning – to “heavy” care, such as administering medication or injections and performing personal hygiene services like bathing. Program members receive access to a variety of tools that help support caregivers physically, emotionally and financially:

  • Tools and resources, such as worksheets and cost calculators to budget and plan for care-management, easing caregivers’ minds as they estimate income changes and caregiving expenses
  • Telephone consultation and support, including phone reminders members can personalize for medications, doctor’s appointments, or anything else a caregiver with a busy schedule must remember
  • Library of expert articles on health, insurance, legal matters and more
  • Interactive community forums where caregivers can connect with peers to receive support and advice from people in similar situations
  • Information about national, state and local community resources, such as clinics, doctors and public-service agencies that can act as advocates, support and assist with care planning, which is especially helpful to people caring from afar
  • Discounts on products and services that help caregivers save time and money as well as care for themselves and their dependents – such as discounted diet and exercise products, books, games, pill box with an alarm clock reminder, and more

Humana developed Points of Caregiving with its LifeSynch subsidiary; the program is available for Humana members and non-members for $20 a month with a one-year agreement ($240 a year), a cost quickly offset by the time and energy saved by the caregiver. Visit www.PointsofCaregiving.com to learn more about caregiving.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.4 million medical members and approximately 7.2 million specialty-benefit members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Selects Linkwell to Deliver Healthy Couponing Program

Linkwell Health announced today that it has been selected by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to offer its healthy food couponing program to the health plan’s members. By presenting valuable coupons on healthy food products, BlueCross hopes to encourage better eating behaviors among its members with chronic health conditions. The coupons will be made available via targeted mailings to the members’ homes.

“One of the key goals at BlueCross is to support our members’ ongoing efforts to improve their health. We understand that diet and exercise are important factors in health and wellness,” said Robert Mandel, Senior Vice President of Health Care Services for BlueCross. “This program, which presents healthier food choices bundled with product savings, provides an opportunity for us to offer value and help our members make choices that support their health goals.”

Through its Well + Wise(SM) and MVMT for Life(SM) programs, BlueCross has long focused on new ways to help Tennesseans and its members nation-wide lead healthier lifestyles through exercise and smart food choices. The Linkwell Health program is yet another approach to health and wellness that appeals to the member through valuable food coupons.

“BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has an unwavering dedication to addressing cost issues and injecting solutions into the health care system,” says Benjamin Gardner, President and CEO of Linkwell Health. “We are proud to be selected as one of the plan’s programs to address costs by encouraging better behaviors while also saving money for the member.”

Linkwell Health works with constituents across the health care and food industries to build healthy couponing programs that influence the buying decisions of members with chronic conditions.  Applying insights from purchase data, Linkwell Health designs customized couponing to incentivize healthier choices at the grocery store. The program analyzes purchase patterns both before and after implementation to enable plans and employers to assess impact.

About Linkwell Health

Linkwell Health applies market insights from food purchasing data to design customized food couponing programs for health plans, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and employers. Founded in 2007, Linkwell Health is a privately-owned company working with leaders in the health care industry. The company helps improve member health by offering incentives to influence daily food purchase decisions. Linkwell Health offers analytics, branded materials and performance reporting to track the impact of healthy couponing on member populations both short and long term. For more information, please visit www.linkwellhealth.com.

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee offers its clients peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross is developing patient-centric products and services that positively impact affordability, patient safety and quality. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.bcbst.com.

Medica Partners with HealthInsight to Deliver Value-Based Benefit Programs for its Commercial Business

Medica, a leading health care insurance provider headquartered in Minneapolis, and HealthInsight, provider of the leading value-based healthcare incentive platform announced that they have partnered to deliver a next generation value-based benefit program to Medica’s commercial customers.

Under the agreement, Medica will deploy HealthInsight’s proprietary value-based technology, including personalized scorecards, to its commercial customers with a program that delivers better quality of care and experience for members while reducing medical costs.

The new program allows members to follow the status of their health in a simplified manner by creating personalized scorecards with personalized health actions. The scorecard will also:

  • Provide information for required preventive services based on age and gender
  • Proactively identify individuals at risk for chronic conditions and those with existing chronic conditions
  • Track individual compliance with their personalized set of health actions

Members in compliance with their personalized health actions will be eligible for financial rewards.

Simeon Schindelman, SVP Commercial Markets said, “It is critical to address the challenge of rising health costs which, if left unchecked, cannot be sustained. Our exclusive partnership with HealthInsight allows us to be the only health plan in our market to offer customers an innovative program in which individuals can stay on the path of wellness via a set of personalized health actions focused on preventive care and chronic condition management. Our goal is to decrease healthcare costs and improve employee health.”

“We firmly believe that preventive care is the foundation for staying healthy, and our value-based programs provide the tools and technologies to reduce costs and improve employee health,” said HealthInsight CEO Martin Watson. “In teaming with Medica, we will help empower their customers to make meaningful choices toward leading a healthier life. Medica and HealthInsight share the common goals of delivering improved quality of care and reducing health care costs.”

Today, as much as 70 percent of total medical expenses are a direct result of lifestyle choices. In many cases, individuals allow chronic conditions to go untreated until treatment options become limited, quality of life suffers and the financial burden of addressing the disease increases. Using HealthInsight’s preventive care approach, members enrolled in Medica’s new program will be able to take a proactive stance toward health management, make smart choices, and manage their overall health as well as reduce the cost of healthcare.

About Medica
Medica is a health insurance company headquartered in Minneapolis and active in the Upper Midwest. With nearly 1.6 million members, the non-profit company provides health care coverage in the employer, individual, Medicaid, Medicare and Medicare Part D markets in Minnesota and a growing number of counties in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Medica also offers national network coverage to employers who also have employees outside the Medica regional network.

About HealthInsight
HealthInsight provides a private-labeled health incentive platform to employers and health care payers. The administrative platform creates and tracks personalized health actions that are tied to incentives allowing employers and health plans to reward individuals who proactively manage their health. Individuals who complete their personalized health actions are rewarded with enhanced benefits, health care premium reductions, monetary deposits
into a Health Savings Account or Health Incentive Account and merchandise. A partnership with HealthInsight gives benefit administrators the ability to offer innovative value-based benefit solutions. Through personalized scorecards, online health coaching, and a personal health record, individuals are encouraged to play an active role in managing their health. By promoting early detection and rewarding proactive health management, in conjunction with leveraging extensive data analytics and a sophisticated team of medical professionals, HealthInsight is able to provide a solution to health care that is proven to reduce health care costs and improve employee health. For more information, please visit us at www.healthinsight.com.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Launches Health Care Reform Website

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today launched a new website, www.bcbsm.com/healthreform, designed to help everyone in Michigan understand how national health care reform will affect them. As Michigan’s leading health plan, BCBSM is committed to serving as a trusted source for information on reform and all issues related to health across the state.

“The Michigan Blues are committed to helping people understand reform requirements and impacts,” said Daniel J. Loepp, BCBSM president and CEO. “As we work to implement reform requirements over the coming months and years, this website will be a source of timely information — and a way for people to get their questions answered.”

Individuals, seniors, business owners and health care professionals all have questions – the website looks to clarify, educate and inform. Features include recent news about reform implementation, an interactive timeline, a place to submit questions and get answers and much more.

Changing our health care system as called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is just beginning. As the health care landscape as we know it changes, the Blues will continue to lead Michigan to a healthier future by working in our local communities and by helping our members become healthier. BCBSM will also continue working with Michigan businesses to develop health care solutions that fit their needs and budgets. And, we will continue to strengthen our partnerships with doctors and hospitals to improve quality and lower the cost of health care delivered in Michigan.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Designates More than 1,800 Physicians in Nation’s Largest Patient-Centered Medical Home Program

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has designated more than 1,800 physicians in roughly 500 practices across the state as patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), securing the initiative’s position as the largest PCMH effort in the nation.  The number of designated physicians grew by roughly 50% over the 1,200 designated PCMH physicians in 2009.

In the patient-centered medical home, primary care physicians (pediatricians, internists and family practice doctors) lead care teams that bring intensive focus to their patients’ individual health goals and needs.  The care teams work with patients to keep them healthy and monitor their care on an ongoing basis.  PCMH teams coordinate patients’ health care using registries to track patients’ conditions and assure they receive the care they need.  They offer extended access to the care team, coordinate complementary care – such as nutrition counseling – and help patients learn to self manage conditions such as asthma and diabetes.  They make sure that a patient doesn’t get lost in the system.

“Blue Cross is working in partnership with some of Michigan’s leading health care professionals to improve access for patients, improve quality and lower costs,” said Thomas L. Simmer, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSM.  “People want closer relationships with their doctors, not only when they are sick, but when they need advice and guidance to keep them healthy.  This program builds the type of primary care system the people of Michigan want for their families.”

Preliminary data shows that PCMH-designated doctors are succeeding in managing their patients’ care to keep them healthy and prevent complications that require expensive medical services to treat.   For example, a review of data shows that PCMH practices have a 2 percent lower rate of adult radiology usage than non-PCMH practices, and PCMH practices have a 2.6 percent lower rate of adult inpatient admissions than non-PCMH practices.

About 5,000 primary care doctors in Michigan are working toward designation as PCMH practices by transforming how their practices deliver health care services to patients.

“Physicians recognize the value that patient-centered medical home provides to their patients, and thousands are working hard to gain designation by Blue Cross,” Simmer said.  “Our designations have grown from 1,200 to 1,800 in just one year, and I’m anticipating they will continue to increase as more physician practices bring new capabilities online in the coming months and years.”

Simmer notes that while 1,800 of the 5,000 doctors attempting designation actually achieved it for 2010, the efforts of those other 3,200 physicians should be commended for their work in supporting the PCMH model of care.

“All of these physicians are partnering with Blue Cross through this initiative to improve the primary care environment throughout the state,” Simmer said.

The benefits of PCMH reach to all the practices’ patients, because not all patients walking through the doors of a PCMH practice are insured by Blue Cross.  The Blue Cross patient-centered medical home initiative is reaching close to two million Michigan residents through designated physician offices today.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan patient-centered medical home program uses a model that considers both process of care and performance to designate physicians.  One-half of the designation score was based on the amount of PCMH capabilities the physician practices have in place – such as 24-hour telephone access, use of disease registries, and active care management.  The other one-half of the designation score was based on quality and utilization measurements, such as emergency room visits, radiology and evidence-based care measures among their patients.

Blue Cross has posted a list of PCMH designated physicians on its Web site at bcbsm.com. People interested in locating a PCMH physician in their community can go to bcbsm.com and click on “Find Doctor” at the top of the page.

The PCMH initiative is part of Value Partnerships, a collection of collaborative initiatives among physicians, hospitals and the Michigan Blues, all aimed at improving quality in medical care. To learn more about this comprehensive effort, go to www.valuepartnerships.com.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

CIGNA Teams With CareCentrix to Reduce Hospital Readmissions

According to a recent study, one in five hospital discharges is complicated by an adverse event within 30 days, often leading to emergency care or re-hospitalization.1 To combat this problem, CIGNA (NYSE:CI) and CareCentrix, Inc., have teamed up to offer the Care Transitions Program to people enrolled in a CIGNA health plan after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. CareCentrix will provide specialized home nursing services that will help these individuals transition from hospital care to home recovery.

The Care Transitions Program will be offered initially in Texas over the next 12 months to people enrolled in a CIGNA health plan who are identified as at-risk for hospital readmissions. The program will be extended to more people in additional locations in 2011.

“Nobody wants to return to the hospital after they’ve been discharged, but without access to proper care and support at home, many people develop complications that can send them back within just a few weeks,” said Dr. Scott Josephs, national medical officer for CIGNA. “Through the Care Transitions Program we’re offering with CareCentrix we hope to decrease hospital readmissions and help people have a safe recovery at home.”

The Care Transitions Program was developed in conjunction with physicians and researchers who specialize in hospital discharge and transition planning. It will provide people with clinical education, resources and guidance from nurses who will monitor and support their hospital discharge, transition and recovery at home. The program will provide support in five key areas including:

  • Identifying a caregiver and involving that person in the individual’s care
  • Educating individuals and their caregivers about the individual’s hospital discharge plan
  • Building awareness of the individual’s condition, signs/symptoms of the condition and what to do if the individual’s condition worsens
  • Helping individuals manage their prescriptions and other medications
  • Facilitating follow-up medical appointments

“We are excited to expand our relationship with CIGNA to bring the Care Transitions Program to the people CIGNA serves,” said Eric Reimer, chief executive officer, CareCentrix. “We are leveraging our home health care expertise and extensive home care provider network to provide people with proven and timely support to ensure they successfully transition from the hospital to recovering in the comfort of their home. In addition to reducing the number of hospital readmissions, our goal is to support people enrolled in a CIGNA health plan achieve better health outcomes over the long-term.”

About CIGNA

CIGNA (NYSE:CI), a global health service company, is dedicated to helping people improve their health, well being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation’s operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance, to approximately 46 million people throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more about CIGNA, visit www.cigna.com. To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to http://newsroom.cigna.com/rss/. Also, follow us on Twitter: @cigna and visit CIGNA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/cignatv.

About CareCentrix

Founded in 1996, CareCentrix manages home nursing, infusion and medical equipment services for more than 10 million people across the country through a network of 5,000 credentialed home care providers. The company provides health care plans and providers with a one-stop solution that coordinates care for patients in the home including skilled nursing services, durable medical equipment and home infusion drug therapies. CareCentrix has developed a new program that will help payers and providers reduce the rising rate of hospital readmissions. CareCentrix is headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut, and has operations in Melville, New York; Phoenix, Arizona; Tampa, Florida; and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and a new regional care center recently opened in Overland Park, Kansas. For more information about CareCentrix visit www.carecentrix.com.

Humana Introduces Mobile Games for Health

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUMNews) announced today that its Games for Health team is launching the first of several iPhone applications that feature a fun approach to helping people get healthier and achieve lifelong well-being.

Colorfall, a puzzle game promoting cognitive health and physical activity, is now available in the iPhone store and offers customers an amusing way to exercise their brains and bodies as they interact with the game. Humana’s Games for Health website – www.HumanaGames.com – offers visitors a chance to preview the game before buying it.

“We’re excited to be the first health insurance company to offer people fun, healthy mobile games that challenge their minds and bodies while encouraging healthy behaviors,” said Paul Puopolo, director of consumer innovation at Humana.

Inspired by the nostalgia of learning the colors of the rainbow, Colorfall is available in the iPhone App Store for $2.99. Fast thinking is a skill that earns top scores as players must arrange cascading colored tokens in the order of the colors of the rainbow. A player may achieve higher scores by taking pictures using the iPhone’s camera and incorporating the pictures into the game. Players are rewarded through high scores for their fast thinking and fast picture-snapping abilities. A demonstration of the game is posted on YouTube.

Humana’s release of Colorfall forges new ground in mobile health entertainment and further demonstrates Humana’s consumer-focused approach to lifelong well-being. Tapping into ubiquitous devices like cell phones promotes health in a way that fits the lifestyle of today’s consumers.

Colorfall was produced in partnership with Persuasive Games, a leader in influential game design, including games for social change, instruction and persuasion. Visit www.HumanaGames.com to learn more about Colorfall and to discover other games developed by Humana’s Games for Health team.

Humana’s Recently Released Mobile Applications

In addition to the company’s release of healthy games for the iPhone, Humana also offers a series of free mobile services (such as mobile web and text messaging) and smart phone applications for its health-plan members. Earlier in 2010, Humana launched an iPhone and Android application that enhances a person’s ability to make health care decisions at the point of service and maximize access to Humana’s most effective tools and resources. These applications help people find urgent-care centers, learn their health care spending-account balances, and get instant access to information found on their member identification cards.

New mobile applications – in addition to the games mentioned above – are coming from Humana’s Mobile team this summer.

About Humana Games for Health

Video games can be more than just fun and entertaining – they can serve as a catalyst to healthier lifestyles. The Humana Games for Health (HG4H) team – part of Humana’s Innovation Center – creates ways for people of all ages to reach new levels of health and well-being through the use of game technology. The games can be used to combat obesity, provide entertaining physical therapy and battle age-related physical and mental decline.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.4 million medical members and approximately 7.2 million specialty-benefit members. Humana is a full-service benefits-solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 49-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio.

S.C. BlueCross, Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center Launch Health Care Reform Project

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center/University of South Carolina School of Medicine Department of Family and Preventive Medicine will begin a project on July 1 that features a new payment model to reward improved health outcomes and coordinated care within the complexities of our health care system.

The payment arrangement goes beyond the traditional model in which doctors are paid for each service they perform.

The project is a year-long pilot referred to as a patient-centered “medical home,” in which BlueCross and BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina patients with diabetes or congestive heart failure who are seen in the Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center will automatically be enrolled.

BlueCross will support the additional care coordinator resources Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center will add to improve patient care, and BlueCross will pay incentives to the physicians if the center can show improved health results on the patients after a year.

BlueCross expects to have approximately 400 members in the program, to be located at the Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center facilities in Columbia, S.C. The Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center recently was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Level-III Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) — the highest possible designation.

This is BlueCross’ second patient-centered medical home project in South Carolina, following one launched last year with Palmetto Primary Care Physicians at its locations in three counties in and around Charleston, S.C.

Patient-centered medical homes involve the primary care doctor as a leader of a team that can include social workers, pharmacists, wellness coordinators, nurses, disease managers, clinical diabetic educators, specialists and emergency room staff, all working together to develop and implement an individual treatment plan for each patient.

The addition of case managers, who usually are nurses, is key to helping the patient negotiate the complex medical system and reduce gaps in care such as missed appointments, lack of transportation and medication non-compliance. They also will reach out, usually by phone, with each patient before and after his or her appointments and in between as needed to ensure that the patient is managing his or her disease.

Electronic medical records also are a key component, as they integrate information received from the patient’s insurance, the case manager and local emergency rooms.

There is no copayment or extra charge to the patients to participate.

“The recent health care reform legislation is a step in the right direction for enabling everyone to access care, but it left the industry to continue to grapple with the drivers of health care costs,” said BlueCross Vice President Dr. Laura Long. “We’re not waiting for legislation to resolve this. We hope that by paying for quality in our health care delivery system for our members, we’ll see better results. We’re pleased to have a pilot now in the Midlands of South Carolina.”

“The goal is to reduce the disconnects in health care and improve the quality of life and disease outcomes for the patient, in an efficiently and effectively run practice setting,” said Elizabeth “Libby” Baxley, M.D., chair of the department of Family and Preventive Medicine. “Getting recognized as a patient-centered medical home took a lot of effort and rethinking of our processes, but we’re excited to have the chance to team with BlueCross and its members in what we think will demonstrate excellent outcomes.”

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., Palmetto Health is the region’s most integrated health system in which a progressive environment and the latest technology, including research and treatment protocols, go hand-in-hand with quality patient care. Palmetto Health is composed of four outstanding hospitals — Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland — and serves as the primary teaching hospital for the University of South Carolina. Palmetto Health’s hospitals are highly respected, long-time community members. Each year, they treat nearly a half million patients, welcome more than 6,000 babies into the world, treat more than 80,000 pediatric patients and 3,000 cancer patients, accommodate 160,000 Emergency department visits, and make nearly 50,000 home care visits. Employing more than 8,000, Palmetto Health is one of the state’s largest non-governmental employers.

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine (www.med.sc.edu) is a community-based medical school with a well-respected reputation for training physicians for practice in primary care as well as providing health care programs that serve the South Carolina community. The school has developed a number of programs and services that reach a multitude of South Carolina’s most health-depressed populations.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina comprises more than 30 companies involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, other insurance and employee benefits services, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians.