EmblemHealth Partners With United Hospital Fund on Next Step In Care to Reduce Hospital Readmissions Through Better Communication

Jul 20, 2010, 08:00 ET from EmblemHealth

NEW YORK, July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- EmblemHealth, Inc. has partnered with the United Hospital Fund to promote its Next Step In Care (NSIC) initiative, a set of online tools developed to ease transitions of seriously or chronically ill patients when moving between health care settings.  EmblemHealth, which provides health insurance through its companies GHI and HIP, has entered this partnership to better serve its members, physicians and other health care providers.

United Hospital Fund will train EmblemHealth's care management team and customer-service representatives to employ, promote and facilitate the use of NSIC as a means of fostering better communication among health care organizations, practitioners, and family caregivers and reducing preventable hospital readmissions by improving medication management and promoting better outcomes.

"EmblemHealth has had a long commitment to working with practitioners, improving patient care and meeting members' needs," says William A. Gillespie, MD, SVP and Chief Medical Officer of EmblemHealth.  "NSIC fosters better communication among heath care professionals and patients in order to improve quality-of-care. This partnership with the United Hospital Fund will help EmblemHealth in our efforts to achieve smoother hospital discharges and other important care transition hand-offs for our members."

Since chronically ill patients move frequently between hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, and home, NSIC was created to help health care professionals and family caregivers work together to improve care as patients move from one setting to another.  NSIC offers practical advice and easy-to-use guides — available in English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese — to create a framework for a patient- and family-centered care transition process; easy-to-use materials that help health care professionals forge better working partnerships with family caregivers; more effective tools for critical tasks, such as medication management; and more collaboration across health care sectors to benefit patients.

"Shorter hospital stays place new responsibilities on both health care providers and family caregivers," says Jim Tallon, President of the United Hospital Fund.  "Across the country, the message from health care systems is the same: Coordinating care during transitions is challenging, and reducing avoidable hospital readmissions is a critically important goal.  NSIC should make this goal more attainable."

Hospital readmissions represent a major challenge to the health care system. According to a study published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, one in five Medicare patients returns to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. The problem is an expensive one: in 2004, these readmissions cost Medicare $17.4 billion, the researchers also found.

An estimated 34 million Americans — one in five adults — are family caregivers, defined as relatives, partners, friends, or neighbors, who provide or manage full- or part-time care for a chronically ill or disabled person.  Family caregivers have become an essential part of the heath care workforce, providing 80 percent of chronic and long-term care in the United States.  

"For too long, family caregivers have been invisible," says Carol Levine, Director for the Fund's Families and Health Care Project and a pioneer in the movement for family caregivers.  "NSIC gives family caregivers and health care providers the tools they need to become true partners in care."

For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com/nextstep.

About EmblemHealth:

EmblemHealth, Inc., through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP) provides affordable, quality health care coverage and administrative services to approximately 3.3 million people.  Groups and individuals can choose from a variety of PPO, EPO and HMO programs, as well as prescription drug, dental and vision plans.  Plans offer a choice of networks, including access to over 106,000 quality doctors and other health care professionals and most of the leading hospitals across the tristate region. For more information, visit www.emblemhealth.com.

About the United Hospital Fund:

The United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York.

SOURCE EmblemHealth