HAP Recognized for Improving the Health of African American Men, Patients with Chronic Pain and Diabetes
DETROIT – September 23, 2010 – At the Michigan Association of Health Plans 2010 Pinnacle Awards for Best Practices reception in Lansing on Sept. 21, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) was recognized for:
- ensuring that African American men receive preventive services;
- patients with complex chronic pain management issues receive effective medical treatment; and
- members with diabetes obtain important health screenings.
"The impressive outcomes of these three programs present tangible evidence of the contributions that HAP employees are making to enhance the health and well-being of the lives we touch," said William Alvin, HAP president and CEO.
African American Initiative for Male Health Improvement
Racial and ethnic minorities are less likely than whites to receive preventive services, even if they're covered by health insurance. To close this gap among insured African American men, HAP and Henry Ford Health System hosted a culturally-tailored event. Participants received health screenings, a presentation on African American men's health, and consultations with dieticians. Incentives included a gift card for attending and completing a follow-up appointment.
As a result of this program, 200 African American men are more up-to-date on preventive health screenings. Potential health problems like abnormal glucose and cholesterol levels and hypertension were detected. Participants now understand the importance of preventive care, and a staggering 75 percent of them followed up with their physicians.
Effective Pain Management Initiative
HAP identified safety concerns and improved the coordination of care for members suffering from chronic pain. Pain management is challenging for primary care physicians because pain is subjective and difficult to assess, and inadequate pain management often leads patients to desperately seek help in the incorrect setting. HAP's integrated approach utilized pharmacy claims data, and input from coordinated behavioral health and clinical care experts to identify "red flags" and help physicians select the best intervention for their patients based on patient need.
After two years, 70 percent of pain management safety concerns were resolved; 80 percent of the target population showed improvement in the coordination of their care; emergency room visits decreased by 50 percent, opioid prescriptions decreased by 49 percent and opioid prescription costs decreased by 46 percent.
Changing Behavior in Diabetes Self-Management
Proper management of diabetes requires adherence to screening guidelines by both medical staff and patients. However, real behavioral change is difficult to achieve – especially when patients are poorly informed, under motivated and resistant to making necessary lifestyle changes.
Specially trained nurse health coaches in HAP's HealthTrack program helped members who were ambivalent or resistant to change. These nurse health coaching techniques help members bridge the gap between wanting to be healthy and making viable choices to live that way. Mailings and incentives kept members informed and actively participating in their health. A partnership with the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) program formed a solid support network for members with diabetes.
These interventions not only improved blood sugar and cholesterol testing and control, they reduced the need for diabetes-related hospital admissions, emergency room visits and ancillary services as members became healthier.
"Michigan health plans are nationally recognized as leaders in quality and efficiency. Displaying these outstanding programs to all of our members ensures that Michigan residents get the best possible care at the lowest possible cost," said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans.