HHS Launches New Affordable Care Act Initiative to Strengthen Primary Care

September 28, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today launched a new initiative made possible by the Affordable Care Act to help primary care practices deliver higher quality, more coordinated and patient-centered care. Under the new initiative, Medicare will work with commercial and state health insurance plans to offer additional support to primary care doctors who better coordinate care for their patients. This collaboration, known as the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, is modeled after innovative practices developed by large employers and leading private health insurers in the private sector.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are helping primary care doctors better coordinate care with patients so they get better care and we use our health care dollars more wisely,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The voluntary initiative will begin as a demonstration project available in five to seven health care markets across the country. Public and private health care payers interested in applying to participate in the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative must submit a Letter of Intent by November 15, 2011. In the selected markets, Medicare and its partners will enroll interested primary care providers into the initiative.

Primary care practices that choose to participate in this initiative will be given support to better coordinate primary care for their Medicare patients.
This support will help doctors:

  • Help patients with serious or chronic diseases follow personalized care plans;
  • Give patients 24-hour access to care and health information;
  • Deliver preventive care;
  • Engage patients and their families in their own care;
  • Work together with other doctors, including specialists, to provide better coordinated care.

CMS will pay primary care practices a monthly fee for these activities in addition to the usual Medicare fees that these practices would receive for delivering Medicare covered services. This collaborative approach has the potential to strengthen the primary care system for all Americans and reduce health care costs by using resources more wisely and preventing disease before it happens.

Across the country, systems which are based on comprehensive, higher-functioning primary care, similar to the strategy that CMS seeks to test in this initiative, show that patients are healthier and avoid having to seek care in more complex and expensive settings when primary care practices have the resources to better coordinate care, engage patients in their care plan, and provide timely preventive care. Large businesses have been able to make independent investments to promote more comprehensive primary care – improving the health of their employees and lowering their health care costs, thus making it easier for them to hire more workers and invest in their workforce.

“We know that when doctors have time to spend time with their patients and can better coordinate care with specialists, people are healthier and we have lower costs in the health care system,” said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D.

The Comprehensive Primary Care initiative is just one part of a wide-ranging effort by the Obama Administration to promote coordinated care and lower costs for all Americans, using important new tools provided by the Affordable Care Act. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are another way that doctors, hospitals and other health care providers can work together to better coordinate care for patients, which can help improve health, improve the quality of care, and lower costs.  Under the Bundled Payment initiative, payments for multiple services patients receive during an episode of care will be linked to help improve and coordinate care for patients while they are in the hospital and after they are discharged.  The Partnership for Patients is bringing together hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, employers, unions, and state and federal government to keep patients from getting injured or sicker in the health care system and to improve transitions between care settings.

For more information, please see the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative web site at:http://innovations.cms.gov/areas-of-focus/seamless-and-coordinated-care-models/cpci/

For an overview fact sheet about the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, visit:http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/09/primary-care09282011a.html

Source: HHS

Healthper Launches Health Engagement Platform

JERSEY CITY, N.J. & SAN FRANCISCO, Sep 27, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Healthper, Inc., a social game-based health engagement and achievement platform, launched today at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Healthper helps people accomplish simple daily actions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, create stories about their achievements, share those stories and get rewarded.

“We have been working for almost two years to develop a platform that would engage individuals in making changes to benefit their health in partnership with a social network of their choice,” said John Hammitt, President of Healthper. “Everyone needs help staying healthy. That help can come from our doctors, our family, our co-workers and our friends, but asking for help is hard and often not very rewarding. With Healthper, we’re trying to change that.”

Developed by the former team from CareGain that helped create Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Healthper is not only a game, it is an extensive and flexible health engagement platform designed to create real value for individuals and their health plans. Healthper`s game- and social network-based engagement drives timely health screenings, preventive care, use of alternative and cost-effective care options, and appropriate follow-up.

“There is general consensus that, as a nation, we need to be healthier and find a way to reduce healthcare costs,” said Hammitt. “Rewarding good behavior is a start, but connecting behavior with the payers and providers is a recipe for real change.”

Healthper’s patent-pending “game-steps” are embedded with simple health actions and daily challenges. Members choose their games, each designed to help them achieve their personal goals, thus paving a distinctive path toward a healthier life. Member progress is tracked and displayed as a unique “Healthper Score,” based on points accumulated from successfully completing chosen game-steps. This highly personalized score provides a measure of progress as well as a measure of status. As members rise in social rank within Healthper’s broad community, they may also join more exclusive, focused communities, or organize one or more communities on their own.

About Healthper

Healthper is an innovative health engagement platform. Founded in 2010, Healthper is a privately held company based in Jersey City, NJ. For more information, please visit: www.healthper.com .

SOURCE: Healthper, Inc.

 

Aetna Launches New Sales, Enrollment and Billing Platform with Benefitfocus Technology

Charleston, S.C. – September 27, 2011 – Benefitfocus today announced that Aetna has selected theBENEFITFOCUS® Platform to integrate online sales, enrollment and benefits management for Aetna customers. By providing Benefitfocus technology across all market segments and lines of business, Aetna delivers a consistent, unified experience to its brokers, plan sponsors and members, who will be able to manage all of their Aetna benefits in one place.

“Aetna is dedicated to helping lower the overall cost of health care by developing innovative online capabilities that make the health care system work more effectively,” said Frank McCauley, Senior Vice President and Head of Aetna’s Local Employers and Consumers business. “We are pleased to work with Benefitfocus – a leader in providing technology that works for individual consumers, small employers and large complex employers – to help achieve these objectives.”

Once the end-to-end solution is completed, Aetna’s individual and employer customers of all sizes will be able to use the Platform to:

  • Shop for benefits and evaluate options with advanced plan comparison tools;
  • Learn with integrated video and decision support tools;
  • Manage eligibility and enrollment for all types of benefits;
  • View and pay invoices, making real-time adjustments as needed; and
  • Communicate with live chat, personalized messages and the latest social media tools.

Aetna’s Employers
Prospective employers will be able to shop online, complete applications, and review and accept quotes. Once they become Aetna customers, benefit administrators can manage enrollment and billing activities year round. When it is time for Open Enrollment, they will be able to leverage industry-leading technology for employee self-service, as well as a suite of sophisticated management tools that includes benefit mapping, work flow and reporting.

Aetna’s Consumers
Consumers will be able to shop and apply for health and voluntary benefits online, while comparing all Aetna products and rates. Once approved, individuals can accept coverage and pay online. Consumers will also be able to manage their benefits on an ongoing basis, make recurring payments and manage health care finances.

Aetna’s Broker Community
Brokers will be able to manage prospects, provide quotes and complete the sales process for consumers, small employers and large employers. After the sale, brokers will be able to use the technology to analyze their client base, provide ongoing support and manage the renewal process. Having all of this information in one place will help brokers provide better service to their clients.

“Today’s health care consumers want to shop, apply and pay online for their benefits in the same way that they make other purchases,” said Shawn Jenkins, President and CEO of Benefitfocus. “Aetna is making a big leap forward by providing technology that engages consumers and enables them to do all of their benefits shopping on one website. What is even more exciting is that Aetna is extending the capabilities to employers and brokers as well, staying in front of customer expectations while preparing for the many layers of health care reform. We are proud to be selected by Aetna and to partner with them to respond to the new market dynamics.”

Aetna has been a member of the Benefitfocus network of data exchange partners for many years. They have also deployed Benefitfocus software to meet specific market needs. For example, Aetna previously launched the Platform’s electronic enrollment software for its Small Group business and also uses online enrollment and billing capabilities for its dental, supplemental life and disability products. The expanded capabilities across other business areas will be introduced to the market starting in the fall of 2011 and continuing through 2012.

“This is currently being incorporated and built into our Voluntary business, and we feel that the Platform will provide a differentiated sales and service experience for our members, plan sponsors and brokers,” said James Reid, Head of Aetna Voluntary Plans. “We look forward to our continued work with Benefitfocus and leveraging their technology across our entire customer base.”

About Aetna Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.5 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.

About Benefitfocus Benefitfocus is the largest health care and voluntary benefits software provider in the U.S. with 14,099,528 consumers, 308,583 employers, 61,022 agents and 3,519 carrier representatives live on the Benefitfocus Platform. Benefitfocus offers a single Web-based platform for benefit shopping, enrollment, management and industry-standard data exchange. Benefitfocus – All Your Benefits. One Place. www.benefitfocus.com.

 

Cigna Mobile Learning Lab Takes to the Streets

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., September 20, 2011 – Is life stressing you out and making you sick? Are you super-sizing your meals without even knowing it? The brand new Cigna Mobile Learning Lab, which kicks off its fall tour at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) conference taking place now, lets consumers learn first hand how stress, portion control (or lack thereof) and other lifestyles choices can impact health. The 18-wheeler interactive healthy mobile center is a living breathing example of Cigna’s new brand “GO YOU” and is armed with new tools that will touch individuals and help them take control of their health.

The Mobile Learning Lab offers an array of new information and helpful lessons to help “you”—the consumer—harness your power to change your health, such as:

  • stress IQ test featuring a fun quiz, offering interesting stress-related facts and tips to help manage stress and improve health.
  • Real-life examples of portion distortion, proper plate distribution and how to engage in healthier eating.
  • weight vest (weighing 20 pounds!) for you to try on and feel how the extra weight impacts day-to-day activity like taking the stairs or dancing!

In addition to the Mobile Learning Lab, Cigna is taking its new brand and personalized health approach to the leaders of cities and counties throughout the nation through its sponsorship and appearance at ICMA’s national conference in Milwaukee.

“With the challenges facing our economy today, it’s even more critical to ensure that our nation’s city and county leaders are focused on controlling health care costs through the prevention of disease and staying healthy,” states Bert Scott, President, U.S. Commercial Markets, Cigna. “That’s why we are kicking off our fall tour at the ICMA conference – to help educate our nation’s civic leaders and give them hands-on learning of Cigna’s new brand promise, “GO YOU.”

After its launch at ICMA, the Cigna Mobile Learning Lab will travel to a variety of community, client and employee locations. Upcoming public stops include:

  • Phoenix – October 2: University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals game)
  • Wilmington, N.C. – October 8-9: Riverfest

For news on where the Mobile Learning Lab is stopping, resources for health and wellness statistics, Cigna’s Mix Six for Healthy Balance Toolkit, inquiries about booking the Mobile Learning Lab at your next event and more, please visithttp://newsroom.cigna.com/MobileLearningLab.

About Cigna

Cigna (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Cigna Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world.

 

Health Care Service Corporation, WellPoint and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Collaborate in National Private Exchange and Defined Contribution Solution For Employers

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) announced today a joint effort to offer a nationwide private exchange and defined contribution solution for employers to use in managing their health benefit offerings.

The three independent health insurers have invested equal stakes in Minneapolis-based Bloom Health, giving them majority ownership of the company. This is the first investment in Bloom by HCSC and WellPoint, while BCBSM is increasing its existing stake in the company. Each insurer will serve on Bloom Health’s Board of Directors, with Bloom remaining a separate company.

Bloom Health, established in 2009, provides employers and employees greater flexibility, access and choice of health care services by simplifying how they select and pay for health insurance. Through its platform, Bloom Health helps employers define and better manage their health benefits spending through a defined contribution model. The employer contributes a defined amount per employee toward the cost of employee health care benefits. Employees and individuals are presented with a wide selection of benefit plans through an online “marketplace” to best fit their individual needs.

“Currently, rising health care costs are top of mind for organizations of all sizes,” said Abir Sen, chief executive officer, Bloom Health. “Bloom Health is an important option that assists companies in responsibly managing the rising costs of health care, while at the same time making it simple, engaging and valuable to its employees.”

“HCSC is committed to making health care more accessible and affordable to all consumers. Adding a private exchange to our strong portfolio of health benefit options is essential to providing a broad array of solutions to meet consumer needs in this evolving marketplace,” said Marty Foster, executive vice president and president of plan operations, HCSC.

“We believe private exchanges will be an important solution as the rising costs of health care leave employers searching for more predictability in their health care spend,” said Ken Goulet, executive vice president, and president and CEO of WellPoint’s Commercial Business Unit. “The combined leadership, technological capabilities, brand reputation and market presence make this a natural strategic fit to providing our customer base with the best value and their employees with convenience and choice.”

“By leveraging Bloom Health’s consumer expertise and leading-edge technology, we can offer employers a way to better manage risk all while preserving choice for their employees,” said Ken Dallafior, senior vice president of Group Business and Corporate Marketing, BCBSM. The company was the first to work with Bloom Health earlier this year to pilot a defined contribution health benefit solution to some Michigan employers during 2011, with an expanded rollout in 2012.

The Bloom solution will begin offering limited enrollment for groups renewing in 2012 and will be fully operational for all markets by 2013. For more information, visit http://www.gobloomhealth.com/.

About Bloom Health

Bloom Health is a leader in the defined contribution health benefits marketplace, committed to assisting employers of all sizes move toward an employer-sponsored system that has effective cost predictability for employers and increased choice and personalization for employees. Bloom Health was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, visit http://www.gobloomhealth.com/.

About Health Care Service Corporation

Health Care Service Corporation is the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall, with more than 13 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahomaand Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. HCSC has a rating of AA- (Very Strong) from Standard and Poor’s, A1 (Good) from Moody’s and A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best Company. For more information, please visit http://www.hcsc.com/ or follow us at www.twitter.com/HCSC.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.3 million members residing in Michigan, in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 69 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint’s plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New Yorkservice areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com/.

 

Cigna Enhances Business Model to Meet Changing Customer Needs

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., September 19, 2011 –Cigna (NYSE: CI) today announced anational brand campaign that reflects an innovative approach to meeting the evolving health and well-being needs of consumers. With the theme “GO YOU,” Cigna launches its largest advertising campaign, supporting the company’s focus on delivering easy-to-use programs and providing distinctive customer service.

A scene from a new Cigna television commercial recognizing and celebrating individuality. The commer ...

A scene from a new Cigna television commercial recognizing and celebrating individuality. The commercial is part of a new brand campaign for the health service company. (Photo: Business Wire)

The customer-centric business model and associated “GO YOU” campaign encourages customers to embrace and nurture what it is that makes each of us one-of-a-kind; it’s time to celebrate your true self. National advertising debuts today on major television and cable networks including USA, CNN, Discovery and A&E.Print ads will appear in publications such as Time, Marie Claire, Family Circle andRunners World as well as online on Monster.com, SheKnows.com and iVillage.com. The company also has updated its logo to more directly reflect its focus on individual customers.

“Because personalization is so important to today’s consumers, we offer tailored solutions to meet their evolving health and well-being needs. We seek to provide peace of mind every step of the way,” said David Cordani, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Health and wellness is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Connecting people to better health is the value we deliver as a global health services company.”

Cigna already has put into place 24/7/365worldwide customer service, mobile applications that locate the nearest pharmacies and emergency rooms and decision-support tools that compare quality and medical costs. Customers have broad access to health coaches for chronic conditions like diabetes as well as programs to support healthy lifestyles. The company will engage customers through a new www.cigna.com website as well as social media channels. As part of the range of options for consumers, Cigna is accelerating the expansion of its provenaccountable care organizations and other partnership models with physicians and hospitals, all seeking to achieve quality, choice and affordability.

About Cigna

Cigna (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. Cigna Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. Outside the U.S., Cigna serves expatriates in virtually every country in the world and provides employers, affinity groups and individuals access to quality local and global health care and related financial protection programs. Cigna offers products and services in 30 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 66 million customer relationships throughout the world.

 

 

UMB Healthcare Services Launches Innovative Toolkits to Help Employers Implement and Communicate Benefit Plans

KANSAS CITY, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–UMB Healthcare Services, a division of UMB Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: UMBF), announced today the launch of three comprehensive toolkits to help employers successfully implement and communicate high-deductible health plans (HDHP) with health savings accounts (HSAs). Developed in partnership with Benz Communications, a leading HR and benefits communication strategy boutique, the UMB Toolkits provide implementation, launch and ongoing communication tools to better enable clients to educate employees, while meeting their goals for HDHP with HSA adoption and use, and empowering employees to become smart health care consumers.

“Realizing the benefits of these plans means effectively educating employees to overcome the hurdles to participant adoption. The UMB Toolkits will set a new industry standard for giving employers and individual account holders the information they need to manage their well-being.”

UMB Healthcare Services developed these toolkits to help overcome the two major hurdles to successful adoption: a lack of adequate understanding of the administrative mechanics of establishing HSA-compatible plans and a lack of effective employee communication to garner adequate participation rates. In a recent Aetna-sponsored poll of human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), more than half of respondents were not comfortable with their level of knowledge about these types of plans. Additionally, 77 percent of respondents reported that they found it challenging to engage employees in getting the best value from their plans, and to encourage them to focus on their health and wellness.

With open enrollment now underway and HSA enrollment on the rise, the need for communication support is particularly evident. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) revealed that as of January 2011 more than 11.4 million Americans are now covered by HSAs in conjunction with high-deductible health plans, a 14 percent increase from 2010.

“High-deductible health plans with HSAs provide employers with the much-needed ability to better engage employees in their health, wellness and financial preparedness to meet current and future needs,” said Dennis Triplett, CEO of UMB Healthcare Services. “Realizing the benefits of these plans means effectively educating employees to overcome the hurdles to participant adoption. The UMB Toolkits will set a new industry standard for giving employers and individual account holders the information they need to manage their well-being.”

The UMB Toolkits were developed to support and enhance communication throughout the open enrollment process and beyond:

  • Implementation Toolkit – Tools and resources to help employers understand exactly what to expect and provide support in designing their HDHP with HSA.
  • Launch Communication Toolkit – Comprehensive tools needed to successfully launch and garner high enrollment in a HDHP partnered with an HSA, including best practices, planning guides, timelines and a variety of communication templates.
  • Ongoing Communication Toolkit –Helps employers continue to educate employees and families, and promote benefit programs year round, to ensure satisfaction with benefits.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to partner with UMB Healthcare Services in creating these innovative education and communication tools for companies focused on introducing HSA-compatible health care plans,” said Jennifer Benz, Founder and Chief Strategist of Benz Communications. “Our signature employee-focused approach is built into the UMB Toolkits, providing employers with everything they need to successfully implement, launch and propel ongoing engagement in a high-deductible health plan with an HSA.”

About UMB:

UMB Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, asset management, health spending solutions and related financial services to commercial, institutional and personal customers nationwide. Its banking subsidiaries own and operate banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. Subsidiaries of the holding company and the lead bank, UMB Bank, n.a., include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company’s proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers. For more information, visit umb.com or follow us on Twitter at @UMBFinancial.

About Benz Communications:

Benz Communications is a benefits communications strategy boutique creating integrated employee benefits campaigns for employers committed to nurturing high-performing and satisfied employees. Benz Communications’ clients include Fortune 500 companies, Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, and small- to mid-size companies. Additional information about Benz Communications may be found at www.benzcommunications.com.

 

Cake Health Debuts Free Service to Help Consumers Manage Healthcare Expenses

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Cake Health, Inc., a free online service to manage health insurance and medical payments, debuted today at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. The service, found at www.cakehealth.com , helps consumers pilot through the complexities of insurance benefits, deductibles, network and out-of-network coverage, claims, medical bills, health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and much more.

“Eight out of every 10 medical bills have mistakes,” said Rebecca Woodcock, co-founder and CEO of Cake Health. “We don’t think managing your healthcare dollar should be difficult. We developed Cake Health to help subscribers regain control of their health by helping them get the most out of their healthcare spending.”

According to Woodcock, key Cake Health innovations include the first ever plan recommendation engine that “uses subscribers’ actual usage history and costs to match them with health insurance plans that would be the best fit.” In addition, the new service features a free iPhone application to allow subscribers to enter medical bills by simply taking a photo.

“We designed Cake Health to help consumers better manage their healthcare expenses effortlessly–adding the insurance company’s explanation of benefits with the actual medical bills and out-of-pocket spending,” said Woodcock. “For the first time, our subscribers will be able to see their complete healthcare financial picture.”

Once a consumer signs up with Cake Health, getting started is easy. The new subscriber adds their insurance login information into their account and Cake Health does the rest. The service will monitor and analyze claims, dynamically update the policy information to reflect claims, insurance payments and deductible payments and search for potential billing mistakes like mismatched medications, double entries and other common errors.

Three key features to Cake Health include:

Cake Health Money Manager: A service that pulls together insurance benefit information as well as billing information from medical providers. Subscribers will see, in an easy-to-understand method, what coverage they have, where their healthcare dollar is spent and, in many cases, identifying benefits they didn’t realize they had.

Cake Health Plan Matcher(TM): A unique recommendation engine that identifies healthcare plans based on a subscriber’s actual healthcare spending, individual requirements and history.

Cake Health Mobile(TM): A bill capture feature for the iPhone and available through iTunes. With Cake Health Mobile, subscribers simply take a picture of their medical bills, and Cake Health Mobile reads the image and automatically populates their account. In addition, subscribers can scan documents and forward them to Cake Health via email at docs@cakehealth.com.

“The healthcare system we have today has done a disservice to consumers – their patients,” said Woodcock. “A wall has been set up between the healthcare system and consumers with respect to communicating cost, coverage, and procedures. Most of us are not experts in medical language or codes, yet we’re expected to make complex medical decisions with little or no real information. Ultimately, it translates that we have very little influence. With Cake Health, we are putting the decision power back in the hands for the consumer.”

About Cake Health

Founded in 2010, Cake Health, Inc. makes it easy to manage and understand healthcare expenses. Subscribers for the service can use it as a central place for their healthcare financial information. The service updates the plans dynamically, identifies what is covered, categorizes claims, tracks out-of-pocket expenses and sends alerts for possible overcharges and billing errors. The Cake Health site, fully encrypted, ensures security and privacy. In addition, the company will never sell or share subscriber data. For more information or to sign up for Cake Health Money Manager, visit www.cakehealth.com .

About TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt ( http://disrupt.techcrunch.com ), Sept 12-14 2011, at San Francisco Design Center Concourse, 635 8th Street (at Brannan), is TechCrunch’s marquee conference in San Francisco attracting over 2,000 leading technology innovators and investors and over 150 new startups. TechCrunch ( www.techcrunch.com ) is a leading technology media network, dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies. Founded in 2005, TechCrunch and its network of websites reach over 8 million unique visitors and more than 25 million page views per month.

Cake Health, Cake Health Money Manager, Cake Health Plan Matcher and Cake Health Mobile are trademarks of Cake Health, Inc.

SOURCE Cake Health, Inc.

 

WellPoint and IBM Announce Agreement to Put Watson to Work in Health Care

INDIANAPOLIS and ARMONK, N.Y., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), and IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced an agreement today to create the first commercial applications of the IBM Watson technology. Under the agreement, WellPoint will develop and launch Watson-based solutions to help improve patient care through the delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based health care for millions of Americans. IBM will develop the base Watson healthcare technology on which WellPoint’s solution will run.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a computing system built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge – build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. Earlier this year, Watson competed and won against two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on Jeopardy!. This historic match is being rebroadcast over three days, beginning today.

Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process vast amounts of information to suggest options targeted to a patient’s circumstances, can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, in identifying the most likely diagnosis and treatment options for their patients.

In recent years, few areas have advanced as rapidly as health care. For physicians, incorporating hundreds of thousands of articles into practice and applying them to patient care is a significant challenge. Watson can sift through an equivalent of about 1 million books or roughly 200 million pages of data, and analyze this information and provide precise responses in less than three seconds. Using this extraordinary capability WellPoint is expected to enable Watson to allow physicians to easily coordinate medical data programmed into Watson with specified patient factors, to help identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options in complex cases. Watson is expected to serve as a powerful tool in the physician’s decision making process.

Medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, chronic heart or kidney disease are incredibly intricate. New solutions incorporating Watson are being developed to have the ability to look at massive amounts of medical literature, population health data, and even a patient’s health record, in compliance with applicable privacy and security laws, to answer profoundly complex questions. For example, we envision that new applications will allow physicians to use Watson to consult patient medical histories, recent test results, recommended treatment protocols and the latest research findings loaded into Watson to discuss the best and most effective courses of treatment with their patients.

“There are breathtaking advances in medical science and clinical knowledge, however; this clinical information is not always used in the care of patients. Imagine having the ability to take in all the information around a patient’s medical care — symptoms, findings, patient interviews and diagnostic studies. Then, imagine using Watson analytic capabilities to consider all of the prior cases, the state-of-the-art clinical knowledge in the medical literature and clinical best practices to help a physician advance a diagnosis and guide a course of treatment,” said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., WellPoint’s Chief Medical Officer. “We believe this will be an invaluable resource for our partnering physicians and will dramatically enhance the quality and effectiveness of medical care they deliver to our members.”

Watson may help physicians identify treatment options that balance the interactions of various drugs and narrow among a large group of treatment choices, enabling physicians to quickly select the more effective treatment plans for their patients. It is also expected to streamline communication between a patient’s physician and their health plan, helping to improve efficiency in clinical review of complex cases. It could even be used to direct patients to the physician in their area with the best success in treating a particular illness.

“With medical information doubling every five years and health care costs increasing, Watson has tremendous potential for applications that improve the efficiency of care and reduce wait times for diagnosis and treatment by enabling clinicians with access to the best clinical data the moment they need it,” said Manoj Saxena, general manager, Watson Solutions, IBM Software Group. “WellPoint’s commitment to innovation and their work to improve how care is delivered and benefits administered make them an ideal partner for IBM’s software and services to pioneer new efficiencies in health care.”

Depending on the progress of the development efforts, WellPoint anticipates employing Watson technology in early 2012, working with select physician groups in clinical pilots.

“The implications for health care are extraordinary,” said Lori Beer, WellPoint’s executive vice president of Enterprise Business Services. “As one of the nation’s largest health insurers, we have an important role to play in helping to improve health care quality. We believe new solutions built on the IBM Watson technology will be valuable for our provider partners, and more importantly, give us new tools to help ensure our members are receiving the best possible care.”

About WellPoint

WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 70 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint does business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com/.

About IBM

For more information, please visit http://www.ibmwatson.com./
To join the social discussion about Watson, www.ibm.com/social/watson, include the hashtag #ibmwatson in a tweet.
Follow Watson on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ibmwatson.

SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995

This press release contains forward-looking information that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for “forward-looking statements” provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “expect(s)”, “feel(s)”, “believe(s)”, “will”, “may”, “anticipate(s)”, “intend”, “estimate”, “project” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, which generally are not historical in nature. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding plans, objectives and expectations with respect to future operations, products and services. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties include technical, business, financial, regulatory and/or legal issues that may arise in the development and/or implementation of the proposed WellPoint Watson solution. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof. Except to the extent otherwise required by federal securities law, we do not undertake any obligation to republish revised forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Readers are also urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures in WellPoint’s and IBM’s SEC reports.

SOURCE: WellPoint, Inc.

 

Over 65% of Physicians Have Used Social Media to Support their Professional Practice

WALTHAM, Mass., Sep 08, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Physicians are highly engaged with social media for both personal and professional use, according to a 4,033-clinician study authored and conducted by QuantiaMD, the largest mobile and online physician community, and Care Continuum Alliance, an international association for wellness, prevention and care management.

Nearly 90% of physicians use at least one social media site for personal use, while over 65% have used at least one to support their professional practice. A burgeoning group of “Connected Clinicians” are using multiple sites for both personal and professional purposes. Physicians see promise in online physician and patient communities for improving patient care, but are struggling with the associated challenges.

Various physician communities, along with consumer sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are the online networks most used for professional purposes, and top uses for sites such as these are for education and communicating with colleagues. Over 20% of respondents are “Connected Clinicians” who use two or more social media sites for both personal and professional use. This new breed of “Connected Clinicians” is the most enthusiastic about the broadest range of professional applications of social media. They tend to use electronic communications with colleagues and patients more frequently and are more aware of online patient communities.

Only 11% of study participants were familiar with online patient communities, but of those with a familiarity, an impressive two-thirds believe these communities have a positive effect on patients. Almost 40% of these physicians say they already recommend these communities to their patients and another 40% would consider recommending them, suggesting a growing acceptance by the medical community. Physicians believe online patient communities are especially beneficial for:

— Rare diseases

— Cancer

— Chronic illness

— Maternal and infant care

— Wellness and prevention

— Weight management

— Depression

“Patient communities clearly have a role to play in managing health across the continuum and we’ve seen tremendous interest in communities supporting wellness, chronic disease and rare conditions,” said Tracey Moorhead, Care Continuum Alliance President and CEO. “With our organization’s focus on wellness and population health management, we are excited to work with QuantiaMD and their physician network to communicate the role of patient communities as a tool for health plans and employers seeking to improve the healthcare of individuals.”

Nearly 30% of clinicians access online physician communities. A notable 92% of physicians are interested in interacting with colleagues in online professional networks to learn from experts and peers, discuss clinical issues and share practice management challenges. However, more than 70% of physicians say patient privacy issues would hold them back from using these networks, and two-thirds are worried about liability issues. Lack of time and issues with compensation are also areas of concern.

“We were pleased to see such a high rate of physicians’ professional use of social media, and, though we suspected there would be low clinician awareness for patient communities, we didn’t realize just how low this awareness would be,” said Mary Modahl, Chief Communications Officer, QuantiaMD. “However, we were encouraged by the favorable views of those clinicians who knew about patient communities, as well as by their high rate of recommendation to patients. Our study suggests that patient communities that generate greater awareness among treating physicians could gain significantly from doctors recommending patients to their sites. This in turn would help patient communities fulfill their promise of improving healthcare.”

Over half of the respondents believe there is potential for a wide range of physician-patient online interactions. Chief among these are sharing educational materials and monitoring patients’ health, behavior and drug adherence. Top challenges holding clinicians back from interacting with patients online include concerns about liability (73%), privacy (71%) and lack of compensation (41%).Only 20% of physicians see online communication with patients as inappropriate, underlining the potential of this medium if the challenges can be overcome.

About QuantiaMD

As the largest mobile and online physician community, QuantiaMD exists to help physicians reshape medical practice for modern times. QuantiaMD members share expert thinking, test their understanding, and stay ahead of rapid scientific advances. More than 125,000 members access QuantiaMD for free through any smartphone, tablet or computer. QuantiaMD(R) is a registered trademark of Quantia Communications, Inc, a privately held corporation headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA. All other product names and references contained herein remain the service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. For more information, visit http://www.quantiamd.com .

About the Care Continuum Alliance

The Care Continuum Alliance represents more than 200 organizations and individuals and aligns all stakeholders along the continuum of care toward improving the health of populations. Through advocacy, research and education, The Care Continuum Alliance advances population-based strategies to improve care quality and value and to reduce preventable costs and improve quality of life for individuals with and at risk of chronic conditions. Learn more at http://www.carecontinuum.org .

SOURCE: QuantiaMD