Milestone reached: IBC physician network now has 100 'medical homes'
IBC steps up efforts to provide more support for doctors to improve primary care medicine
Philadelphia, PA - June 9, 2011 - Independence Blue Cross (IBC) has reached a significant milestone with 100 primary care practices with more than 1,000 physicians now qualified as "patient-centered medical homes," and announced today that it is stepping up its efforts to support this transformation of primary care.
Despite the fact that the term "medical home" has quickly worked its way into our health care lexicon, many people remain confused about what these medical homes are and why they matter. In fact, the name itself may be part of the problem.
"Forget the terminology and simply think primary care at its best," advises Dr. Don Liss, vice president, Clinical Programs and Policy, Independence Blue Cross. "While there are criteria that define a medical home, the essential goal is to provide more organized and coordinated primary care."
IBC's message is simple: by transforming the practices of primary care physicians into medical homes, these doctors can deliver more efficient, more coordinated, and better care, resulting in healthier, happier patients and ultimately lower health care costs. IBC's efforts include:
- increasing HMO payments to medical home practices;
- partnering with hospital residency programs to educate the next generation of physicians about the importance of primary care;
- providing tools that help primary care practices make the transformation to medical homes.
"We're pleased that more and more primary care practitioners in our network see the value of investing their time, energy, and resources to improve how they deliver care," adds Dr. Liss.
"Organized primary care is the foundation for all good health care, but sadly, more and more physicians who provide primary care are frustrated because they are unable to practice medicine the way they want to. They don't spend as much time with patients as they'd like, and they spend more time dealing with acute conditions."
There's no place like home … especially when you're sick
Medical homes use a team approach and support the primary care physician with health educators, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals, such as behavioral health specialists and nutritionists. Patients who are cared for in a medical home have better access to their physicians and are evaluated as soon as a problem develops. In addition, the practices are organized so that care managers and health educators help make sure chronically ill patients receive key tests, take medication as directed, and maintain their optimal health status.
Improving how primary care is delivered not only improves patients' overall satisfaction, but also leads patients to take better care of themselves and become more actively involved in their health care. The early results of a southeastern Pennsylvania medical home initiative showed that patients took more responsibility for their care and showed marked improvement in important health outcomes. IBC was the lead participating health plan in that initiative.
For example, diabetic patients participating in IBC's medical homes showed significant increases in controlling their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, getting preventive eye and foot exams, and taking medications proven to delay and prevent kidney disease; all of these are important factors in lessening the chances of complications. Of the patients in the program, 50 percent more diabetics had well controlled diabetes, 70 percent more diabetics had well controlled cholesterol, and 38 percent more diabetics had well controlled blood pressure.
"The bottom line is this: primary care is good, but it's even better when it's delivered in an organized, more efficient way," says Liss.
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 3.1 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. More information about Independence Blue Cross is available at www.ibx.com.