PITTSBURGH, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Is it actually possible to predict good days and bad days for people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) and thereby help them improve their quality of life? That is what a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield pilot is trying to determine.
Nearly 100 participants in a recently completed four-week pilot program provided meaningful data by completing a daily journal and wearing a body sensor patch. The goal of the pilot program is to help determine if factors such as weather, activity levels and sleep can help predict the onset of fatigue. Nearly 500,000 Americans live with MS and the varied, seemingly unpredictable fatigue that is caused by the disease.
"We want to see if those symptoms are actually not as unpredictable as once thought," said Highmark vice president Paul Puopolo, who oversees the company's Business Innovation and Development department that launched the pilot. "Highmark is the only organization approaching fatigue from a lifestyle-based process. This is a program that could change lives. It would be a forecast, not a cure, and it wouldn't be a 100 percent sure thing. But if it works, it could give those with MS just a little more control of their lives and their disease."
Fatigue is a common complaint of those with MS. People with MS often experience a sudden onset of feeling overwhelmingly tired and/or having severe muscle fatigue. This can be debilitating, making it difficult for those with MS to manage everyday life in terms of work, family and social activities.
"Any indicators or predictors that emerge from the pilot could help people with MS forecast when they could be affected by their symptoms," said Puopolo. "It would give them the chance to proactively plan around potential fatigue spells, have a higher degree of control and plan their most important activities for what would be anticipated to be successful days."
Data from the study is being analyzed, and Highmark expects to know the results within the next few months.
About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves approximately 3.2 million members through the company's health care benefits business and employs more than 4,000 people in western Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
SOURCE Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield