An online program aimed at helping consumers manage chronic conditions can save the entire health care system significant amounts of health care dollars, according to Donald Fischer, Highmark  SVP and chief medical officer. His statement stems from a recent study from HealthMedia Inc. and Highmark Inc., published in the November/December edition of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The companies say an online program offers a return on investment and enhances a patient’s ability to self manage chronic health conditions. Outcomes from the 5-year-long study showed that 93% of Highmark members reported to be better able to manage their conditions by participating in HealthMedia CARE for Your Health, an online digital health coaching program designed to teach participants the skills they need to help manage any chronic condition. Health care costs per person per year were $757 less than predicted for participants relative to the matched nonparticipants. This cost savings yielded a return on investment of $9.89 for every dollar spent on the program, after one year of participation.

“This study demonstrates the ability members have to make positive and appropriate changes in managing a chronic condition if they are simply provided the tools,” Fischer says.

Additional outcomes included a 35% increase in participants receiving flu shots, 16% increase in Pap tests, 34% increase in fecal occult blood testing and a 12% increase in mammogram appointments.

Self-reported outcomes, a comparison on health risk assessment data and a claims analysis that compared health care costs to a matched group of nonparticipants were taken into consideration when analyzing the data.

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