Disease Management Update
Volume III, No. 48
March 22, 2007

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Table of Contents

  1. Broad Health Strategies Enable Cost Control
  2. Disease Management Q&A: Managing the Behavior of Patients with Chronic Illness
  3. HealthSounds Podcast / Diabetes Disease Management: Practical Strategies for Identifying At-Risk Populations and Avoiding Complications
  4. Average Investment for Disease Management and Patient Adherence Programs
  5. Survey of the Month: Healthcare Retail Clinics
  6. Health Literacy: Learning the Language of Healthcare in America


1. Broad Health Strategies Enable Cost Control

The number of employers offering consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) continues to grow. However, those companies that are most effective at controlling healthcare costs are combining these plans with other health-related tactics, according to the results of an annual survey conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health.

In the survey of 573 large companies, the portion of companies offering a CDHP increased from 33 percent to 38 percent in the last year. However, employee enrollment in CDHPs remains low at 8 percent, an increase of only one percentage point from 2006. Broader participation in CDHPs is nonetheless linked to lower healthcare cost increases. Employers with 10 percent or more of their covered population in a CDHP are holding healthcare cost increases to a lower level – 6.5 percent average – than other employers.

"The experience of companies successfully implementing CDHPs offers hope for improving our healthcare system," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "Focusing on prevention, early intervention, disease management and quality outcomes not only can help employers control healthcare costs, it can make employees healthier and more productive. It is truly a win-win situation."

For more of this survey's results, please visit:
http://www.watsonwyatt.com/news/press.asp?ID=17172

2. Disease Management Q&A: Managing the Behavior of Patients with Chronic Illness

Each week, a healthcare professional responds to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's expert is Richard Citrin, vice president of EAP solutions at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan.

Question: What are some cost-effective strategies for different types of patients, with special emphasis on chronic illnesses?

Response: We look at healthcare behaviors – the behavioral elements of a person's chronic illness. We look at how well a person manages their chronic illness; not so much from a medication compliance perspective, but whether they are able to speak to their doctor effectively, understand the nature of their chronic illness and interact more effectively with their healthcare system and healthcare provider.

We devise specific strategies for members to help them address issues around their chronic illness. Disease management companies address the member's compliance with the evidence-based guidelines associated with that particular disease. We're interested in how the member's behaviors impact their ability to manage their particular diseases. A theme of the Disease Management Association is behavior change – helping members make effective behavior changes for themselves to better manage their diseases.

For details on a stepped approach to behavior change, with strategies that get through to resistant patients, engage them and sustain participation, please visit:
http://store.hin.com/product.asp?itemid=3550

We want to hear from you! Submit your question for Disease Management Q&A to info@hin.com.

3. HealthSounds Podcast / Diabetes Disease Management: Practical Strategies for Identifying At-Risk Populations and Avoiding Complications

In this week's disease management podcast, David Larsen, director of quality improvement at SelectHealth, explains how technology and data collection are driving performance improvement and HEDIS results at SelectHealth. He also describes the various ways they educate physicians in the use of the clinical tools that are impacting the performance results.

To listen to this complimentary HIN podcast, please visit:
http://www.hin.com/podcasts/podcast.htm#10

4. Average Investment for Disease Management and Patient Adherence Programs

The average amount spent for developing and launching a disease management and patient adherence program from concept to implementation exceeds $700,000, according to a recent report by Cutting Edge Information.

The spending may be justified, however, when 38 percent of sales are foregone to adherence issues, which the organization also found.

The report warns that the results show a great variance in spending levels. This is explained by a large range in individual programs – some programs use numerous media channels such as phone, Internet and direct mail, while other programs may utilize only one of these methods.

For the companies profiled in the report, the average development and launch costs were $778,356. The average annual cost of maintaining these programs was $633,889.

Patient population can also be a determining factor of program spending. Larger patient populations require more personnel support, whereas a program catering to a small patient population can spend significantly less by maintaining fewer staff.

To read a summary of this report, please visit:
http://www.cuttingedgeinfo.com/pharmapatientadherence/PH90_Patient_Adherence_summary.pdf

5. Survey of the Month: Healthcare Retail Clinics

What impact has the proliferation of retail or convenience clinics had on patient care or business practices at your organization? Will these clinics fill perceived gaps in primary care? Complete our survey and you'll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results. Complete our survey and you'll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results.

To participate in this survey and receive its results, please visit:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=37163347107

6. Health Literacy: Learning the Language of Healthcare in America

The universal application of healthcare makes it ever more important for system users to learn its language. To make patients more conversant in this language, recent healthcare reform is striving to empower them through education and access to information while enhancing physicians' abilities to convey the message. Health literacy programs are on the forefront of this development – helping patients learn how to better help themselves.

In a recent online survey conducted by the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), healthcare organizations and outsourcing firms discussed programs they have developed to improve health literacy. Outlining initiatives from audiences to outcomes, participants describe their strategies for promoting health literacy in this free executive summary.

To download this complimentary white paper, please visit:
http://www.hin.com/library/registerhll.html
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Contact HIN: For more information on the products and services available through the Healthcare Intelligence Network, contact us at (888) 446-3530 / (732) 528-4468, fax (732) 292-3073 or email us at info@hin.com.
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