Insurance CEO Says Spending for Health Care ‘Unsustainable’

At its current level, health care spending is “unsustainable,” Highmark CEO and President Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr. told an assemblage of business leaders attending the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting at The Greenbrier Thursday morning.

His company, Winkenwerder said, is working on several fronts to stem the tide of health care spending through such programs as an in-house wellness and prevention initiative that lowers health insurance premiums for Highmark employees who take steps like quitting smoking, losing weight and adopting a regular exercise regimen.

Another Highmark initiative seeks to boost “cost/quality transparency,” a needed service, according to Winkenwerder, because nobody appears to know how much each item in health care costs.

See the full story at Register-Herald.com

Regence and MultiCare Health System Announce New Collaborative Care Initiatives

SEATTLE, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Regence BlueShield in Washington and MultiCare Health System today announced that they have taken an important step in advancing the Triple Aim goals of improving the health of patients and their care experience, and lowering costs, through a new payment model. Additionally, the two organizations are collaborating on innovative new networks and health insurance products to further enhance care and bend the medical cost curve for people in the south Puget Sound region.

The initiative will include a shared incentive reimbursement arrangement for services at MultiCare hospitals and clinics which will be aligned with increased focus on quality and patient care goals that are mutually agreed to by Regence and MultiCare.

Read the full story at PRNewsWire.com

 

New Health Insurance Cooperative Goes Live With Help from Care Management Firm

Tampa, FL – August 27, 2013 – Health Integrated, Inc., a recognized innovator in care management strategies for vulnerable, fragile and at-risk individuals, has partnered with Meritus (dba Meritus Mutual Health Partners (PPO) and Meritus Health Partners (HMO)), Arizona’s first and only consumer-operated and oriented (Co-Op) insurance plan, to deliver its full care management platform for the plan and its members. Meritus will begin enrolling new members in October 2013 for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

For Meritus, Health Integrated is providing a full suite of care management services on a state-of-the-art care management platform, including:

  • Health Risk Assessments
  • Chronic Condition Management
  • Case Management (Medical and Behavioral)
  • Utilization Management (Medical and Behavioral)
  • 24/7 Behavioral Health Crisis Line

Read the full story at HealthIntegrated.com

 

Highmark’s Pay-For-Performance Program Saved Lives and Health Care Dollars in 2010-2011

Nov. 3, 2011 | Pittsburgh, Pa. — Highmark’s latest data on its Quality BLUE pay-for-performance programs demonstrates that participating hospitals and physicians consistently take better care of Highmark members than health care providers that are not part of the program.

“Whether you look at infection rates, screening for various diseases or electronic prescribing rates, Highmark members are getting better care from providers that are part of the Quality BLUE program,” said Linda Weiland, vice president of provider network innovations and partnerships. “We see very clear patterns of improved patient safety and clinical care for our members.”

Highmark today released its annual Quality BLUE report which provides data from fiscal year 2011 on both the hospital and physicians pay-for-performance programs. Some of the major findings include the following:

  • Well-child visits in the first 15 months of life exceeded the national average by 15 percent and well-child visits for children, ages 3 -6, exceeded the national average by 13 percent.
  • Seventy-six percent of female members age 42 to 69 received mammography screening for breast cancer from Highmark providers in the past two years. This is a full nine percent higher than the national average.
  • Seventy-two percent of office-based physicians in Quality BLUE use electronic prescribing compared to only 36 percent nationally. Electronic prescribing improves patient safety and reduces errors. It also improves efficiency and cost savings.
  • An estimated 351 cases of MRSA with a care cost savings estimated between $9.5 million – $12.2 million were eliminated during the past four years. MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant organism, which can cause potentially life-threatening bloodstream and surgical site infections in hospitals and community settings. Through the Quality BLUE hospital program, hospitals provide MRSA education to patients and family members.
  • An estimated 1,535 central line associated bloodstream infections (CLAB) with care costs savings of $11.2 million to $44.8 million were eliminated in all nursing units, not just intensive care units, during the last five years, saving potentially 184-384 lives. A central line is a catheter inserted into a large vein close to the heart to monitor blood circulation, provide nourishment and administer fluids and medication. While these catheters are life sustaining, they put patients at risk for infection.

 

The Highmark Quality BLUE hospital pay-for-performance program began in fiscal year 2002 with six hospitals. By fiscal year 2011, program participation grew to 63 hospitals and today includes 81 hospitals.

Highmark’s Quality BLUE physician program is offered in 49 counties in Western and Central Pennsylvania, with approximately 6,300 PCPs in more than 1,600 practices, providing services to more than 1.7 million Highmark members. Sixty-six percent of all primary care practices participate in the Quality BLUE program.

“During the past decade we know this program has greatly improved patient safety and saved millions of dollars,” said Weiland. “At Highmark we continue to push for paying for quality in health care and not just paying for services.”

About Highmark
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.8 million members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the company’s health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 19,500 employees across the country. For more than 70 years, Highmark’s commitment to the community has consistently been among the company’s highest priorities as it strives to positively impact the places where members call home. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

 

Health Insurance Provider Florida Health Care Plans Launches One of a Kind Wellness Solution

Daytona Beach, FL (PRWEB) July 19, 2011 –  Florida Health Care Plans (FHCP) has announced the launch of its new wellness rider.

“We are a local company with the goal of improving the health of our members and our community by promoting an employee/employer culture of wellness education, focusing on healthy habits, preventive care, easier access to wellness programs and educational resources,” says Dr. Wendy Myers, CEO of Florida Health Care Plans.

This new approach is a collaborative effort between employers, employees and FHCP, to team together and work with health data to assist employees in addressing unhealthy habits with the goal of a healthier lifestyle. This employee/employer collaboration can also help control the zooming costs of healthcare, and create a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.

The rider has an attractive price tag, costing only 1%-2% of the group plan premium, for increased focus on employees’ health habits that could see a healthy return on investment (ROI). According to the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit industry advisory group, “Employers can realize as much as $3.27 in financial benefits for every $1.00 invested in workplace wellness programs.”

Another study, done by Sarasota County says, “A review of 32 studies of corporate wellness programs found claims costs were reduced by 27.8%,” and there were also significant declines shown in the number of physician visits, hospital admissions and incidence of injury.

Top of the line technology makes FHCP’s wellness plansaccessible and user friendly. The company provides a 24 hour nurse advice line, a self-paced program for those who want to quit smoking, a weight management program and many other educational programs to encourage preventive healthy habits in addition to regular preventive care. Members also have access to an exclusive member portal, providing an easy way to make appointments with FHCP staff physicians, refill prescriptions at FHCP pharmacies and access “Welcome to Wellness” a state of the art health risk assessment with access to articles and multimedia content personalized for each member. There are also programs for members who have heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure and COPD for no extra charge. All of these programs focus on preventive treatment that helps to ward off serious health problems before they happen.

Dr. Mikelle Streicher PhD, RN Chief Marketing and Sales Officer says, “Workplace Wellness programs are not a passing trend. It is about investing in people and in good health so that good business and a healthy bottom line are all the more possible to obtain.”

For more information about FHCP’s health and wellness plans please visit http://www.fhcp.com.

About Florida Health Care Plans:
FHCP is a health maintenance organization in East Central Florida. Being an HMO, the company brings a strong emphasis on preventive care and health and wellness resources and education. As a local organization, they have been living among their clients for thirty years, working to bring better health care to the residents of Florida. Approximately 2,000 employers have trusted FHCP to take care of their employees with a wide selection of services and health solution products. In January 2009, they joined Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida as an independent licensee, which provides FHCP members with nationwide and global access to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s highly regarded and accessible Blue Card network. Their latest response to the needs of the community was in 2011, with the development of an Individual Health Plan product.

 

Blue Shield of California Members Share Personal Health Stories Online

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 30, 2011) — Building on an ongoing effort to engage its members about health, Blue Shield of California announced the launch of Member Stories, an online forum that lets members share personal stories that will hopefully inspire others to take control of their own health challenges.
Blue Shield members can submit text, photos and video to show how they are managing their health. Members can also read others’ stories, post comments, tag stories as “inspiring,” and share stories via Facebook. From now until July 31, Blue Shield will donate $5 for every story that’s shared on Member Stories. When members share their stories, they can choose to benefit one of three charities: California Partnership to End Domestic ViolenceThe Children’s Partnership, and California Primary Care Association.
“Tackling personal health issues can often be a solitary experience. Through Member Stories, our members are publicly sharing stories in a rich, deeply moving way that empowers other members who face similar challenges,” said Sue DeLeeuw, director for brand marketing, Blue Shield of California. “This is our way of harnessing the wisdom and bravery of our member community for better health.”
Member Stories is Blue Shield’s latest online initiative aimed at empowering members to share knowledge and experiences around health.
  • Ratings and Reviews, a first-of-its-kind feature in the healthcare industry, lets members give candid, public feedback about their experiences with Blue Shield health plans. It has collected nearly 2,000 member reviews averaging 4.0 out of 5 stars.
  • Ask & Answer, which enables members to ask questions and share knowledge about health topics, has generated more than 1,500 questions and answers from members and Blue Shield customer representatives and healthcare professionals.
Examples of inspiring member stories
Dozens of Blue Shield members have already shared stories about their challenges and triumphs with health issues ranging from stress and sleeplessness to cancer and high cholesterol. Dorothy Judy and Jo D’Anna are two examples.
  • Dorothy and Scott Judy of Newhall, Calif. had been fighting the battle of the bulge for years, but the couple recently took control of their weight and has lost a combined 77 pounds since last January. Initially hesitant to be “out there” with their experience, Dorothy, 56, and Scott, 60, shared their weight loss success online for the first time with Blue Shield’s Member Stories, and they’re proud they did it. Their story shows the power that a support system – in this case, a spouse – can have in overcoming health challenges.Writes Dorothy:”Having his support made a huge difference in my success. Eating right, exercising 4 or more days a week has changed my outlook on life and the way I look and feel. Taking control of this aspect of my life has made a big contribution to my health and well being.”

    Dorothy thinks that seeing other people willing to talk about their health struggles and/or successes through Member Stories can make the journey to better health less lonely.

  • Jo D’Anna of Forest Knolls, Calif. had heard horror stories from friends about colonoscopies and put off getting her own for more than 10 years. The lack of reliable transportation from friends and family only made it easier for the singer-songwriter to continue postponing it, but her family history of colon disease finally compelled her to get it done. Last May, just after turning 61, Jo got her first colonoscopy, calling it “a piece of cake, and actually fun.” She has provided a detailed account of it on Facebook and Blue Shield’s Member Stories. Her story shows that colonoscopies are not as embarrassing, uncomfortable or invasive as most people think.Writes Jo:”The procedure itself was a piece of cake, and actually fun. The nurses were delightful and funny, and made you feel completely at ease, like it was no big deal. They keep you comfy and warm. They talk about funny things. Then, suddenly you’re wheeled into the procedure room and before you know it, you’re totally unconscious. I woke up in the sunlit recovery room, having felt no time pass, and absolutely no pain.”

    Jo hopes the story of her colonoscopy will encourage those considering it not to procrastinate.

The full version of these and other stories are available at www.blueshieldca.com/memberstories.

Background on Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.5 million members, 4,800 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in California. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California offers a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state.

Highmark Partners with Navigenics for a New Generation of Personalized Wellness Powered by Genetic Knowledge

April 14, 2011 | Foster City, Calif., and Pittsburgh, Pa. — A new generation of personalized wellness powered by genetic knowledge will be offered to Highmark members and individuals through a partnership between Highmark and Navigenics, the two companies announced today. The first partnership of its kind in the nation between Highmark, one of the country’s largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, and Navigenics, a pioneer in the application of genetic knowledge to improve individual health, aims to apply an integrated approach to health and wellness that is personalized for individuals based upon their genetic risks.

“If we can help our members understand their specific, individual genetic risk factors together with personal health factors such as family history and lifestyle, then we can help them take the right steps to stay healthy and well,” said Steven Nelson, senior vice president of health services strategy, product and marketing at Highmark. “Our hope is that individuals use this program as a preventive, proactive health planning tool to understand their risks and then change their lifestyle or take the necessary medical steps with their doctor to prevent long-term disease.”

Better health lies in delaying or preventing conditions before they develop. The Navigenics program identifies the genetic risk factors of an individual — through DNA analysis using a saliva sample — for health conditions such as cancers, cardiac diseases and Type 2 diabetes. The service also includes a panel on pharmaceutical responses, which reviews 12 medications for potential side effects or dosing considerations. Examples include Plavix, Warfarin and statin medications.

Navigenics selects only health conditions where genetic insight can guide an individual to an informed plan of action. Results are coupled with access to a board-certified genetic counselor, the ability to coordinate with personal physicians and the tools and resources to understand steps to address the identified health risks in conjunction with an individual’s overall health profile.

Highmark will offer the personalized wellness program through its group customer relationships in order for employers to provide a personalized option of health and wellness to their employees.

“The Navigenics personalized approach is particularly meaningful to employers who strive to infuse a ‘culture of health’ across their employee population,” said Vance Vanier, M.D., president and CEO of Navigenics. “Our goal is to heighten the impact of employer-sponsored wellness and prevention programs by giving individuals unprecedented access to knowledge about their unique health risks. We know that this information can be a catalyst for healthier decisions leading to higher quality, longer lives that are free of preventable disease.”

One Highmark employer group, Pittsburgh Technical Institute, has already become a participant in the new program.

“We see this as an exciting opportunity to improve health engagement,” said Nancy Sheppard, director of human resources at the educational institution. “Our organization has a long history of supporting our employees with innovative wellness programs, and we believe that through the introduction of genetic information and a session with a genetic counselor, our employees will not only have the option to gain greater insight into their health, but will be empowered to be more engaged in prevention.”

To help support testing participants who are also Highmark members, Navigenics genetic counselors may refer participants to Highmark-specific resources such as health coaching or online lifestyle improvement programs.

“Highmark offers our members a variety of programs to help them better manage their health,” said Nelson. “From health coaches to comprehensive lifestyle improvement programs to preventive screenings, Highmark understands the value of health prevention and maintenance. Having one more piece of valuable information — your personal genetic makeup — through a personalized health program powered by genomics gives individuals even more information and power to make the right lifestyle and health choices.”

Highmark will not have access to any results of any test purchased through Navigenics. Genetic testing results are also protected under federal law. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 protects Americans from being treated unfairly because of differences in DNA that may affect health. The law prevents DNA information from being used against individuals in health insurance or the workplace.

Also starting today, the program will be offered to individuals through an educational conversation with a trained specialist at six Highmark Direct locations in Pennsylvania.

About Navigenics
Navigenics, Inc. develops and commercializes genetics-based products and services to improve individual health and wellness. Navigenics educates and empowers individuals and their physicians by providing clinically actionable, personalized genetic insights about disease risk and medication response to catalyze behavior change and inform clinical decision-making. The company was founded by leading scientists and clinicians, and continues to advance genomic knowledge and adoption of molecular medicine through studies with leading academic centers. Navigenics’ services are available through employer wellness programs and health plans, as well as through physicians and medical centers. Among Navigenics’ investors are Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, Mohr Davidow Ventures and The Procter & Gamble Company. For more information, visit www.navigenics.com.

About Highmark Inc.
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.8 million members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the company’s health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 19,500 employees across the country. For more than 70 years, Highmark’s commitment to the community has consistently been among the company’s highest priorities as it strives to positively impact the communities where we do business. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Congestive Heart Failure Patients Receive Care Without Leaving Their Homes

(Newark, NJ, January 12, 2011) – What happens when high-quality medical care meets state-of-the art communications technology? Patients – even those with a serious chronic disease – can get the clinical attention they need right from their homes, when they need it, resulting in healthier outcomes and fewer visits to the hospital.

That’s what Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is seeking to achieve through a new pilot program for Congestive Heart Failure patients.  Using telemonitoring technology, medical professionals carefully observe and evaluate Horizon BCBSNJ patients remotely so they do not have to leave their homes.  

“Although congestive heart failure is a serious, chronic disease, its symptoms – such as shortness of breath and sudden weight gain – can be managed effectively, and often without a patient’s abrupt visit or re-admission to the hospital,” said Patricia Orchard, RN,  Director of Clinical Operations, Health Affairs, Horizon BCBSNJ.  “Under our pilot program, telemonitoring equipment, set up right in a patient’s home, detects warning signs to heart failure conditions, then sends an alert to the patient’s primary physician when warranted and a registered nurse from Horizon BCBSNJ.  With this early detection system in place, medical professionals can take immediate steps to intervene and prescribe the best setting and course of care for that patient,” Orchard said.

Telemonitoring is gaining wide acceptance among patients as an effective means of managing chronic diseases. A 2007 study by the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association found that home telemonitoring of chronic diseases “empowers patients, influences their attitudes and behaviors, and potentially improves their medical conditions.”

Facilitated by the Horizon BCBSNJ Clinical Operations Teams, the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Pilot targets 100 members who were determined to meet clinical criteria.  The three-month pilot began November 2010 and will be evaluated in February.

The primary diagnostic device used in the pilot is a scale, provided through Dayton, Ohio-based Valued Relationships, Inc. (VRI), which is tied to the in-home monitoring system and detects the weight gains symptomatic of congestive heart failure.

“This technology will promote better communication between patients and their physicians, reduce patients’ discomfort and anxiety by caring for them in their homes, and allow physicians and Horizon to assist patients better manage their own health,” Orchard added.

About Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, is a not-for-profit health services corporation.  Horizon BCBSNJ serves approximately 3.6 million members and is headquartered in Newark with offices in Wall, Mt. Laurel, and West Trenton.

Norton Healthcare and Humana Launch Accountable Care Organization in Louisville, Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUMNews) and Norton Healthcare, both based in Louisville, Ky., have been working together to launch the region’s first commercial Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The Norton-Humana partnership began in early 2010. An ACO model establishes incentives for health systems to increase quality and efficiency, better coordinate patient care, eliminate waste, and reduce the overuse and misuse of care.

The Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice selected Humana and Norton Healthcare to partner in one of only five national pilot sites, the only one in Kentucky, to implement the ACO model through the Brookings-Dartmouth ACO Pilot Project. The other pilot sites include Carilion Clinic, Roanoke, Va.; Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, Ariz.; HealthCare Partners Medical Group, Torrance, Calif.; and Monarch HealthCare, Irvine, Calif. Humana has worked with Brookings-Dartmouth since 2008 on exploring the ACO concept and other innovative payment models.

“Norton Healthcare’s work in developing an integrated health care delivery system and Humana’s commitment to continuous improvement in quality provide a strong foundation from which to pilot the payment reforms central to ACOs,” said Dr. Elliott Fisher, director of the Center for Population Health at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

“Norton Healthcare is proud to be a participant in the Brookings-Dartmouth ACO Pilot Project and we feel this is a tremendous opportunity to participate in an alternative model for health reform,” said Dr. Steve Hester, Norton Healthcare senior vice president and chief medical officer. “Considering our health care system’s industry-leading commitment to measuring and openly reporting on the quality of our care; our progress toward a system-wide integrated electronic medical record; and our large base of employed primary- and specialty-care physicians, Norton Healthcare was the logical choice in our region to be an ACO pilot participant.”

Humana is a leading health-benefits provider in its corporate hometown of Louisville, Ky., with a broad network of hospitals and health systems in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Humana has had extensive experience in partnerships aimed at improving health care delivery and reimbursement models for many years. Norton Healthcare is the Louisville area’s leading health care system, caring for nearly one of every two patients at more than 100 locations throughout Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana.

“Humana is committed to innovative local and national models that improve clinical outcomes, reduce costs and improve efficiencies,” said Bruce Perkins, senior vice president of Humana’s healthcare delivery systems and clinical processes organization. “Humana plans to continue to develop more ACO models by partnering with providers in multiple regions. Our focus in exploring additional ACO relationships is to help drive innovation in the marketplace.”

Rewarding effective care, not quantity

The ACO model has gained national recognition as a meaningful way to create new financial incentives in our current health care system by holding health care providers accountable for the overall effectiveness, efficiency and cost of the care they provide. In contrast, the current fee-for-service payment system rewards volume and intensity rather than efficiency and effectiveness of care, often penalizing those systems that attempt to improve care. ACOs have been specifically addressed in the recent federal health care reform legislation through a new Medicare shared-savings program. And ACOs have been applauded for their intent to support patient engagement and the promotion of evidence-based medicine.

“Accountable Care Organizations are a model for delivery reform that can be part of a solution to help transform our nation’s health care system from one that promotes excessive costs to one that explicitly supports providers when they take steps to achieve high-quality care at lower costs,” said Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution. “We look forward to working with Norton Healthcare and Humana to test this promising new model.”

The Brookings-Dartmouth team, led by Drs. Fisher and McClellan, is working closely with Humana and Norton Healthcare to offer technical and strategic support in the implementation of the ACO model. Each ACO site defines the patient population it serves and establishes a spending target that reflects the predicted costs for their patients. The goals of ACOs are to improve efficiency and effectiveness of care and slow spending growth. ACO providers who can demonstrate that they meet these goals will receive in return a portion of the savings achieved.

“The ACO model really gets at bending the cost curve, which is so vital to achieving a sustainable system,” said Dr. Fisher. “Only health systems that can slow their spending growth, compared to previous years, will have the opportunity to receive shared savings.”

Although the Norton-Humana ACO is still in its early stages of implementation, the pilot has identified several initial areas of emphasis, such as improvements in the use of preventive screenings and tests (such as mammograms) and vaccinations, better coordination in the management of chronic illnesses (such as heart failure), more effective treatment of common problems (such as back pain), appropriate utilization of generic drugs to lower costs, and improved access to the appropriate level of care (such as primary care rather than emergency department treatment).

Going Forward

As the Louisville area’s largest hospital and health care system, Norton Healthcare is committed to providing quality health care. Norton has a sophisticated infrastructure for measurement of quality and data management in place. Looking ahead, Norton plans to move from process metrics to outcomes metrics, further develop innovative delivery models of care, and assume broader responsibility for health care delivery.

“Humana recognizes the need for change in health care delivery across the country. We are excited to participate in the development of new processes that encourage continuous improvement in quality while finding greater efficiencies in the delivery of care,” said Dr. Tom James, Humana corporate medical director.

In addition to providing technical support in the implementation of ACOs, the Brookings-Dartmouth team will evaluate the pilots to see how ACOs can impact the future of payment reform. The goal is to develop a model that can be replicated across the nation, building on health reform legislation which will likely make ACOs a voluntary option with Medicare participation in 2012.

“We are excited about the launch in Louisville and look forward to expanding the ACO model to other patient populations, including other commercially insured, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Dr. Fisher. “We are hoping that the hard work of Norton Healthcare and Humana will lead the way for other health systems and will be the start of a successful national roll-out.”

About Norton Healthcare

For more than a century, Norton Healthcare’s faith heritage has guided its mission to provide quality health care to all those it serves. Today, Norton Healthcare is the Louisville area’s leading hospital and health care system (44 percent market share) and third largest private employer, providing care at more than 100 locations throughout Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana.

The not-for-profit system includes five Louisville hospitals; 12 Norton Immediate Care Centers; 10,900 employees; more than 400 employed medical providers; and nearly 2,300 total physicians on its medical staff. For five consecutive years, Norton Healthcare has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Kentucky.

The health care system serves patients in the Greater Louisville area, including Southern Indiana, and throughout Kentucky. For more information, visit www.NortonHealthcare.com.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.1 million medical members and 7.0 million specialty members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health, pharmacy and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

OptumHealth Debuts OptumizeMe Fitness App to Help Microsoft® Windows Phone 7 Users Connect and Compete for Better Health

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– OptumHealth, one of the nation’s largest health and wellness companies, today announced the release of the OptumizeMe mobile application. Designed exclusively for the many new Windows® Phone 7 devices, OptumizeMe helps people pursue their health goals through their own online social networks, where they can track their progress and issue fun fitness challenges to their friends, family and coworkers.

OptumizeMe, selected by Microsoft as a Premier Launch App, is designed to maximize the features of the Windows Phone 7 platform. It is available now, free of charge, at the Windows® Phone Marketplace. The app is part of the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 showcase.

With OptumizeMe, people can create and challenge each other to fitness competitions, and trade both encouragement and “digs” along the way. Users can network with friends using the app, or link to their existing social networks to create new fitness challenges. The application tracks their progress on challenges, and rewards them with virtual badges as they achieve their goals. OptumizeMe also uses the Windows Phone 7’s location capabilities to help fitness enthusiasts locate and join open challenges happening near them.

“If you’re the kind of person who lives life on the go, wants to increase your fitness and can’t resist a good challenge, OptumizeMe is the app for you,” said Rob Webb, CEO of OptumHealth Care Solutions. “It makes living a healthy lifestyle easier and more fun for people with Windows Phone 7 mobile devices by creating connections with friends who share similar fitness goals. Most of us already use our social networks to stay in touch with each other, so why not use them to share the experience of getting healthier together?”

According to a recent New England Journal of Medicine report, healthy behavior actually spreads through social connections. OptumizeMe links with online social networks like Facebook to make healthy activity a social activity. For example, OptumizeMe can post updates to a user’s Facebook wall to allow friends to monitor the person’s progress and post messages of support.

“Windows Phone 7 is backed by a rich developer ecosystem that is creating a variety of quality apps and games designed to help people get the most out of their phone,” said Todd Brix, senior director, Windows Phone Marketplace, Microsoft Corp. “OptumizeMe is a great example of the innovative apps available on Windows Phone Marketplace that take advantage of Windows Phone 7’s unique features and design.”

Sixty mobile operators in 30 countries will offer Windows Phone 7 mobile devices, available in the United States Nov. 8.

About OptumHealth

OptumHealth helps individuals navigate the health care system, finance their health care needs and achieve their health and well-being goals. The company’s personalized health advocacy and engagement programs tap a unique combination of capabilities that encompass public sector solutions, care solutions, behavioral solutions, specialty benefits and financial services. Serving nearly 60 million people, OptumHealth is one of the nation’s largest health and wellness businesses, and is a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNHNews) company. More information about OptumHealth can be found at www.optumhealth.com.