Philadelphia – To support high-quality patient care, Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross (IBC) is providing physicians with enhanced data about members with chronic conditions.

This is one of the latest moves in electronic data within the health insurance industry. Many carriers, such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield—which owns IBC--have created their own networks (see "Slow on the Uptake").

IBC’s reports, called the SMART Registry, provide physicians more information than when they were introduced in 2004 and are available in several formats. Previously the reports included patient information about key clinical tests and treatments that are prescribed for patients with certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, coronary artery disease and asthma. Now, the reports indicate whether or not the test was completed, and available results are also included.

The SMART Registry is sent to primary care physicians twice a year for all of IBC's members with chronic conditions, including those in Medicare plans. The reports include color-coded charts that note whether the member may be in need of a recommended test, procedure or treatment and
information about recent hospitalizations, specialist and ER visits.

Dr. Timothy Rodgers, who operates an internal medicine practice in Bryn Mawr, says the enhanced SMART Registry offers him practical, relevant information about his patients so he can more easily monitor their care.

The SMART Registry is an integrated piece of IBC's Connections program, which allows members 24/7 access to Health Coaches who answer questions by phone, work with the member's physician, and help the member better manage his or her care. In addition to providing physicians access to useful information about their patients, the SMART Registry gives them a convenient way to refer members to Connections, which is a comprehensive disease management program offering decision support and educational resources.

Doctors can opt to receive the SMART Registry in hard copy or in electronic form, or both. Each practice can sort the data however is most meaningful or convenient for them.

Rodgers notes there are many applications on the market for which doctors are paying significant money, which require hours of data entry, and don't offer as much relevant information. "The SMART Registry feeds the information to me directly and allows me to generate the reports I need," says Rodgers.

"Another feature of SMART Registry that I like is the pre-drafted letters that my staff uses to remind patients of tests they need to schedule or lab work that still needs to be done," says Rodgers. "It is easy and convenient since the letters are already written, and the reminders help ensure the tests get completed."

Using the SMART Registry, doctors have the ability to compare against practices across the network, through information on key quality indicators, such as HbA1c testing for diabetics, and LDL-C levels for patients with coronary artery disease. This helps physicians compare their practices' performance to other in-network peers and view trends in care management.

The SMART Registry complies with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), according to IBC. Such information is shared only with members' primary care physicians and sent under a secure seal.

Source: PR Newswire and INN archives

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