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Press Release

IBC Launches Personal Health Record, Empowering Members To Strive For Optimal Health

New electronic features track medical history and offer the member a snapshot view of their health

Philadelphia, PA - July 8, 2010 - Independence Blue Cross (IBC) now offers its members more personalized online information about their health as the amazon.com experience is to the savvy shopper, the ibxpress.com experience is to the smart health care consumer. Personal health information began to flow into members' electronic health records this month-available through ibxpress.com, the company's member website.

Using the Personal Health Record (PHR), members can now combine their own information about their health history, with IBC's claims data, building a more complete picture of their health to make informed decisions with their doctors about their care.

The passage of health care reform further emphasizes the importance of individuals taking accountability for their health and being proactive in their care and treatments. As more emphasis is placed on preventing illness and disease to help manage health care costs, now, more than ever, the critical role of consumers and the connection between their behavior and staying well is pivotal.

"We are proud to further empower our members with the next step in health technology, to better equip them as health care consumers, and to help them stay organized and active in their medical care," said Daniel Hilferty, president of health markets for Independence Blue Cross. "The new Personal Health Record is free of charge and puts all our members' health info in one place, broadening IBC's electronic tools, while helping members strive for optimal health, which results in better quality of life and medical cost savings for everyone."

"Members can now combine their health information with data that we store about their past care, treatments, lab tests, medications, and any hospital or emergency room visits," said Linda Taylor, chief marketing executive of Independence Blue Cross. "Since, for many of us, busy lives and hectic schedules make it hard to remember when we last had important preventive care like a mammogram or a flu shot, IBC now provides members with a PHR, an easy-to-access, secure place to keep their personal health data."

IBC's PHR combines available data from the member's medical history with data the member reports to provide a more comprehensive health story. Our members play a key part in creating their very own PHR, since they have additional health information about their medications, allergies, past surgeries, or treatments, to complement the medical claims, test results and prescription drug information that IBC will add to the members' PHR, resulting in a robust tool that members can share with their current doctors and keep handy for their reference.

"Data-loaded PHRs, further enhanced when members add more information, are expected to improve the quality of care that our members receive and increase patient safety overall," said Richard Snyder, M.D., chief medical officer at IBC. "When doctors have a more complete picture of the patient's medical history, they have a broader base of information from which to make treatment recommendations, helping the member get the best possible care."

Snyder explains that sometimes the member may not think to mention every medication she is taking or every doctor she is seeing, when in fact, this could be critical information that helps her doctor offer higher quality care. This is especially true during a health emergency when the urgency of the situation can be distracting. In a similar way, a PHR print-out can also help doctors identify possibly harmful drug interactions.

The PHR is the latest addition to IBC's online consumer tools that integrate health and prescription drug information to help members become well-informed about their health. PHRs can't be ruined by a coffee spill. They can't be lost to fire or flood as with hard copy printed records. Having health data available on file electronically through IBC's secure member website means members have access to their medical history, simply by logging in, wherever they happen to be on vacation, at work, at home. This can be particularly helpful if the member visits various doctors or needs to change his primary care physician.

"Now, whenever members need to visit a new doctor," Taylor added, "they can show their medical record in one consolidated print-out a health history at their fingertips, and just one more way IBC is leveraging technology to help our members improve their health."

As part of the newer features offered through ibxpress.com, IBC now targets consumer messaging and education specifically delivered to improve health conditions. For example, members can be sent secure messages regarding important gaps in care (e.g., mammography screening, tests for members with diabetes). This electronic communication is supported by IBC's Clinical Alerts, which are a similar type of notification, but sent to the doctor's office so that before the member arrives for an appointment, the doctor can be alerted to which tests or treatments may be due for the member.

Late last year, IBC launched the enhanced ibxpress.com, in collaboration with WebMD, one of the most recognized brands of health information, to offer a new portfolio of electronic health tools to help members become more actively engaged in their health care process:

  • health trackers to help members stay on top of their blood pressure, fitness and exercise, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight levels;
  • WebMD's symptom checker, which helps a member assess their symptoms and make an informed decision regarding treatment options;
  • interactive lifestyle improvement programs on nutrition, smoking cessation, exercise, weight management, and stress management;
  • a treatment cost estimator that helps members estimate costs for hundreds of common conditions, procedures, tests, and health care visits;
  • a comprehensive Health Encyclopedia, which explains terms in a consumer-friendly manner;
  • physician and hospital finder tools enable members to find participating providers and compare hospitals by location and quality.

Protecting personal health information is always a top priority with the secure web portal. Members can be confident that their privacy is safeguarded. To begin building their PHRs, members can simply login to ibxpress.com and click on the link near the center of the screen to access the Personal Health Record.

WebMD is an independent company offering online health information and wellness education to Independence Blue Cross members.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.