Health Care Service Corporation and American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest's "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma" Project Results Show Decreases in Hospitalizations, Emergency Room Visits

Community-based initiative to help improve pediatric asthma care will be extended for two additional years to include at least 50 new primary care clinics across five states

Feb 25, 2016, 08:00 ET from Health Care Service Corporation

CHICAGO, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest today announced the extension of the "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma" project for an additional two years. Initial results from 28 clinic locations in Illinois and New Mexico that participated in the first two years of the program show decreases in hospitalizations and emergency room visits, which can help lower cost of care. For Illinois and New Mexico combined, there was a 62 percent decrease in hospitalizations for children diagnosed with asthma who received care at a participating clinic. In addition, for the same population, there was a 54 percent decrease in emergency department visits1.

Launched in September 2012 as a three-year program in collaboration with HCSC's Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative, "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma" aims to help improve pediatric asthma care for high-risk patients through community-based interventions at primary health centers, including physician offices, federally qualified community health centers and school-based clinics. Through 2015, the project is estimated to have reached more than 350,000 children through nearly 90 clinic locations across Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma affects an estimated 22.6 million Americans, including more than 6.1 million children2. By leveraging its proprietary claims data from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans it operates in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, HCSC identifies areas with the highest rate of hospitalizations and emergency-related claims for patients with asthma. HCSC then teams up with American Lung Associations in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas to recruit primary care clinics to participate in year-long training cohorts based on National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute guidelines to enhance asthma treatment for children. Participating clinics receive monthly training and mentoring, which directly impacts children with asthma, their caregivers, community leaders and educators.

"Our collaboration with American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is part of our longstanding commitment to work with community organizations to identify innovative ways to address the most pressing health care needs in the communities where we live, work and play, which in this case, is helping to improve outcomes for children with asthma," said Dr. Stephen Ondra, senior vice president and chief medical officer, HCSC. "The strong results we have seen in just a short time demonstrate the power of a focused effort among payers, providers, patients and organizations like the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, who bring proven programs and dedicated resources to the table. Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma exemplifies what Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiatives at HCSC are all about – sustainable, measurable programs that make a difference."

"Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions children face in our country, significantly impacting quality of life and resulting in high cost of care if not properly diagnosed and managed," said Lew Bartfield, chief executive officer, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. "We are encouraged by the positive impact we made in the first three years of our work with HCSC, and look forward to expanding our efforts over the next two years. Not only are we empowering children with asthma and their caretakers to be active and engaged in their treatment, which is imperative, we are also empowering providers with the additional tools, knowledge and education they need to address asthma head-on in our communities."

Two-year Expansion will Build on Positive Momentum
Based on the positive initial results, with additional outcomes from Texas and Oklahoma expected in the coming months, HCSC and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest will extend the program for an additional two years with components including:

  • Continuation of the initiative in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and expansion into Montana with a goal to partner with at least 50 new primary care clinics over the next two years – with at least five new clinics in each state per year.
  • Implementation of the proven Environmental Improvements for Children's Asthma (EICA) program to remove the allergens and irritants in the home environment of an estimated 750 children with poorly controlled asthma across all five states. HCSC and the American Lung Association will identify children who continue to have hospitalizations and emergency visits, and the American Lung Association will conduct home visits to determine whether there are environmental triggers in the home preventing them from responding to improved quality of care.

The Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma program was developed as part of HCSC's Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative, a community investment program committed to the health and well-being of children and families across Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Since the initiative began in 2011, HCSC has granted more than $37 million to more than 300 community partners across the five states it serves. To date, more than 19 million health and wellness services have been provided to children and their families as a result of investments in nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments. The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is a core group within the initiative's disease management pillar. 

About Health Care Service Corporation
Health Care Service Corporation is the country's largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall, with nearly 16 million members in its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. A Mutual Legal Reserve Company, HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, please visit www.HCSC.com, visit our Facebook page or follow us at www.twitter.com/HCSC.

HCSC's Community Investments
Health Care Service Corporation is committed to helping improve the health and well-being of the communities that we serve. For nearly 80 years, that commitment has been reflected through social responsibility efforts that include corporate giving, local community relations, volunteerism, diversity and inclusion, ethics and compliance, wellness and sustainability initiatives. As of 2015, our signature program, Healthy Kids, Healthy Families has provided more than 19 million health and wellness services to children and their families through support in areas of nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments. To learn more about HCSC's social responsibility efforts please visit www.hcsc2014srr.com.

About The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest
The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest is comprised of Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our staff, leadership boards and volunteers are dedicated to "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy, which we're able to fund through special event fundraising, grants and the generosity of our donors. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.Lung.org .

1 Based on assessment of claims data from Blue Cross and Blue Shield members receiving asthma care at least once from 28 participating Illinois and New Mexico clinic locations and who were continuously enrolled from one year before the project to 12 months post intervention (3 years of continuous enrollment).
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "National Current Asthma Prevalence (2013)." Most Recent Asthma Data.http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/most_recent_data.htm.

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SOURCE Health Care Service Corporation



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