“Integration” is a frequently used buzzword in healthcare. I come across it everywhere, from casual talks with colleagues to major research studies.
Many agree that integration is a path to improve consumer experience. But it’s the definition and implementation of integration that often leaves us in ambiguity.
At HealthPartners, integration means we provide healthcare financing through our health plan and healthcare delivery through our hospitals and clinics. Our vast engagement and data analytics provide a better understanding of our consumer’s values and preferences, and allow us to deliver a more seamless and consumer-centric experience.
Here are three ways HealthPartners has leveraged integration to develop consumer-centric solutions:
1. A new approach to orthopedics
Orthopedics is one of the highest contributors to employer’s healthcare costs. To address this, our health plan and care delivery system created a different model of care. This Spine Care Model pairs up patients and health plan members considering surgery with a medical spine care specialist. They discuss surgery and other less invasive, yet effective, treatment, like physician directed physical therapy. The model also provides chiropractic care embedded in primary care and walk-in acute injury clinics. This integrated model is saving our patients and plan members time and money.
2. Managing medication
Being on an incorrect medication dose or an unhealthy mix of medications is harmful and costly to our members and patients and is costly to our healthcare system.
Our Medication Therapy Management program identifies health plan members and care delivery patients at risk of having a problem with their medicines. We offer these members and patients free counseling at one of our 150 HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics or pharmacies, or by phone. By helping health plan members manage their medications using our care delivery system, we’ve seen an annual savings of about $1,100 per member. That number jumps to $4,500 for a member with a chronic illness.
3. Improving children’s health
Our Healthy Beginnings program is another example of our health plan and care system working together to solve complex issues. Alcohol, tobacco and other drug use during pregnancy is the leading cause of premature birth and mental and physical problems in children. It causes costly NICU stays and lifelong health problems.
The program screens every woman who sees us at our HealthPartners or Park Nicollet clinics for pregnancy care. Patients at risk work with a social worker or nurse to set and achieve realistic goals to avoid drugs and alcohol. Most care delivery systems don’t provide these services due their non-billable nature. Most plans don’t have the clinical resources to execute it. We’re fortunate to have grant support and health plan funding to power this program. We operate it through a strong partnership between our health plan’s Healthy Pregnancy case managers, and the clinic Healthy Beginnings teams. This program helps avoid costly NICU stays, and more importantly, gives babies a healthy and bright start.
Integration as the future
These programs highlight a few ways HealthPartners health plan and care delivery system work together to put our consumers at the center. Our results show our members and patients are saving time and money while having a better customer experience.
We have more to do. As our customers come to expect and value this integration, affordability will be their number one demand. We’ll need to think differently about our existing care models, and offer more convenient options. Above all, we’ll need to earn our consumers’ trust by showing the true value of integrated models of care.
Kevin Ronneberg, MD, is vice president Health Initiatives and associate medical director, at HealthPartners.