May 8, 2021

Healthcare Innovation/The Business Side

Healthcare Innovators

Amy Keller | 5/10/2011

» Telehealth

Humana and Intel are teaming up on a project to monitor patients with congestive heart failure.
With 75% of healthcare costs stemming from chronic illness, insurers are finding new ways to monitor high-cost patient populations. Humana recently launched an 18-month telehealth pilot program with Intel to monitor the weight, heart rate, blood pressure and other vitals of some 2,000 patients with congestive heart failure.

Each Humana member in the program is equipped with an Intel Health Guide, an electronic computer device that patients use daily to submit their weight, blood pressure and other health data. Nurses with Humana Cares track the information and interact with the patients through web video, phone and e-mail. "You get to insert yourself into the member conditions right at the time when it's happening — you're not trying to educate people about managing their condition when they're in the hospital," says Kate Marcus, telehealth pilot project manager for Humana Cares.


» On-Site Care

Florida cities, counties and school districts are increasingly relying on on-site medical clinics to provide less costly access to medical care for their employees. In January, the Pasco County School District opened the first of three employee and family Health and Wellness Centers in Pasco County. The school district hopes that the $4-million expense of the clinic — staffed by a doctor, an RN and an X-ray technician — will be offset by healthcare savings generated by employees using the on-site clinic rather than more costly outside providers. Crowne Consulting Group in Ocoee, an employee benefits consulting firm that collaborates with Tennessee-based CareHere to operate on-site clinics throughout Florida, including the ones in Pasco County, will open its 19th clinic in Florida this year. Ray Tomlinson, president of Crowne Consulting Group, says his clinics can provide treatment for both chronic and acute/urgent illnesses. Visits to the clinics are voluntary, but incentives for employees to use them include zero co-pays and no deductibles.

» Digital Docs

As doctors migrate from paper to electronic records, they're turning to companies like Sage Healthcare Division to help them digitize their operations and take advantage of federal stimulus dollars. The Tampa company has a product called Sage Intergy Meaningful Use Edition that allows doctors to track key medical conditions and exchange and report key clinical measures and public health information. Patients, meanwhile, have 24/7 access to the practice and their own health information and can go through the "practice portal" to set appointments, ask for referrals, make prescription requests, as well as view statements and pay bills online. Using Sage's software, Florida Medical Clinic, which employees 100 clinicians at six clinics in Zephyrhills, has reduced its annual transcription costs by nearly $1 million.

» Group Therapy

At Cleveland Clinic Florida, patients who don't mind seeing the doctor in a group setting for routine check-ins can cut waiting time for an appointment by weeks, says Dr. Jose Cabral. Cabral, who chairs the clinic's department of endocrinology, has been conducting "shared medical appointments" for patients since 2004 and says the group visits have not only improved access, but also have helped motivate his patients with type 2 diabetes to better manage their conditions. Cabral holds shared appointments once every two weeks. Approximately nine to 12 patients attend the 90- to 120-minute sessions, which are facilitated by Cabral and a dietitian, a nurse and a patient educator. The appointments are billed at the same rate as a 15-minute one-on-one appointment with the doctor, but Cabral says satisfaction levels are higher. "What's really fascinating to us is that once a patient attends one group session, approximately 85% will not want to be seen any other way."

Dr. Jose Cabral
Dr. Jose Cabral conducts "shared medical appointments" at Cleveland Clinic. The program improves access to doctors and motivates patients, Cabral says.

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