Independence Blue Cross Targets Chronic Pain and Fall Prevention in Disease Management Program Expansion

Jun 03, 2010, 15:09 ET from Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross (IBC) today announces the addition of chronic pain management and fall prevention to its suite of award-winning disease management programs that serve over 1.5 million members. These programs expand the Connections(SM) Health Management Program, delivered in collaboration with Health Dialog.

The chronic pain program aims to help members identified with chronic pain manage their condition, and provides information regarding evidence-based pain management techniques. The fall prevention program targets members who have an increased risk of an injury from a future accidental fall. This effort helps members understand why they are at risk of falling, and what steps they can take to reduce this risk.

Chronic pain

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, pain is the No. 1 cause of adult disability in the United States. At least one out of every six people live with chronic pain from backaches, aching jaws, headaches, arthritis, or other joint ailments. Unlike acute pain, which alerts the body to injury-causing danger and then quickly subsides, chronic pain is a sign that the body's alert system has broken down and pain signals remain active.

"Chronic pain takes a tremendous toll on a person's physical, psychological, and social well-being," says Dr. Es Nash, senior medical director at Independence Blue Cross. "By taking advantage of the Connections program, our members have the tools and support they need to work with their doctors to better understand and successfully manage their condition to reduce their pain and live more active and comfortable lives."

IBC's Connections(SM) Chronic Pain Program is designed to help IBC's members learn the most effective ways to cope with their chronic pain so they can resume daily activities and improve their productivity and quality of life. A Health Coach will work with a member to identify and reduce pain triggers– psychological or physical factors like stress, lack of sleep, or musculoskeletal sources of pain. The Health Coach will also help the member understand specific tests, evaluations, and treatments for chronic pain.

Fall prevention

IBC's Connections(SM) Fall Prevention Program is designed to diminish preventable falls among seniors in hopes of reducing avoidable hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with these falls over time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report falls as a leading cause of unintentional injury and death in people aged 65 years and over, with hip fractures being the most serious fall-related injury. And, according to the American Geriatric Society 95 percent of hip fractures are due to falls. As many as two thirds of elders with hip fracture have continued difficulty with activities such as dressing, bathing, shopping, or housekeeping, and are at an increased risk for placement in assisted-living or nursing homes. To prevent this loss of mobility, or disability, a Health Coach will encourage the member to perform balance and gait exercises, make modifications to the home environment, and work with their physician and/or pharmacist to better manage their medications.

Dr. Nash adds that although chronic pain affects members in all age groups, both the pain program and the fall prevention effort respond predominantly to the health needs of a rapidly-growing, aging population. According to the U.S. Census state figures, Pennsylvania has the third highest population over 65, and by 2020, the elderly will comprise 25 percent of the state's population.

IBC's Connections Health Management Program is designed to help members become better informed health care consumers. Through the program, members with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung or breathing problems, or heart conditions can learn how to improve their health and overall quality of life. In addition, the program supports members who are facing a significant medical decision, as well as members who have everyday health concerns, by providing 24-hour access to Health Coaches. A Health Coach is a health professional averaging 10-15 years of clinical experience with specialized training in helping people manage chronic conditions by providing evidence-based information and support.

A recent survey measuring IBC members' satisfaction with the Connections program showed that 90 percent of IBC members with a chronic condition, and 90 percent of non-chronic members, report being "satisfied to very satisfied" with their Health Coach experience. Ninety seven percent of members with a chronic condition said they were able to follow their Health Coach's guidance and 94 percent felt their Health Coach was knowledgeable about their condition or situation.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Health Dialog

Health Dialog Services Corporation is a leading provider of healthcare analytics and decision support. The firm is a private, wholly-owned subsidiary of Bupa, a global provider of healthcare services. Health Dialog helps healthcare payors improve healthcare quality while reducing overall costs. Company offerings include health coaching for medical decisions, chronic conditions, and wellness; population analytic solutions; and consulting services. Health Dialog helps individuals participate in their own healthcare decisions, develop more effective relationships with their physicians, and live healthier, happier lives. For more information please visit

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross