Pilot Program Shows Re-engineered Health Benefit Reduces Cost

October 21, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A just-completed pilot project sponsored by the Boeing Company shows that re-engineering primary health care, especially for the chronically ill, can dramatically improve the quality of care and reduce cost, according to an article in the policy journal Health Affairs.

A Mercer news release says that among the outcomes in the Boeing pilot project, patient-reported work days missed were 56.5% lower among participants than among a baseline control group. Cost per participating patient was reduced by 20% compared to a control group.

In addition, the physical functioning score of patients was 14.8% higher than the control group, the mental functioning score was 16.1% better, and the number of patients who said they received care “as soon as needed” was 17.6% higher among those participating in the program compared with the baseline control group, according to the news release.

The Boeing pilot program, Intensive Outpatient Care Program (IOCP), was built on an ambulatory intensive caring unit (A-ICU) design funded by the California Health Care Foundation and designed by Mercer’s chief physician, Arnold Milstein, MD, and a Mercer-selected panel of national experts in primary care design. Patients who enrolled were connected to a care team that included a dedicated RN care manager and an IOCP-participating MD, who worked with the patient to develop a care plan.

The plan was executed through intensive in-person, telephonic and e-mail contacts, including frequent proactive outreach by an RN, and education in self-management of chronic conditions. The program included rapid access to care coordinated by the IOCP team, daily team planning huddles to plan patient interactions, and direct involvement of specialists in primary care contacts, including behavioral health when feasible.

The case history description may be viewed at www.healthaffairs.org .