December 8, 2000
By Michael Perrault
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
Providing health care to patients with rare diseases can be an expensive proposition.
But Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has teamed with a North Carolina e-health company to set up a "tele-Web" program designed to cut yearly medical costs from 20 percent to 70 percent.
The program allows patients to tap into live cyber forums and patient chat rooms, as well as maintain electronic personal medical records. Anthem has teamed with Greensboro, N.C.-based Accordant Health Services to manage patients with 14 rare diseases.
Accordant focuses on managing complex, chronic diseases by relying on a tele-Web system that integrates the Internet and call centers to link health plans, providers and patients.
"We in a plan our size may only have a few patients with these unusual or rare diseases, so we or even the community may not have the expertise to manage these patients optimally," said Dr. Lisa Latts, Anthem's medical director.
But Accordant has set up "technology-based disease management programs" to treat about 10,000 chronic patients from 7 million health plans, said Dr. Ed Dasso, Accordant medical director of clinical operations and informatics. The program is geared for diseases like cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis.
Broomfield resident Jenny Worek, 37, who has multiple sclerosis, often receives calls from a nurse who specializes in caring for patients with her disease. She recently got on the Internet, pulled up a personalized link and signed on to a DNA study that she hopes may help researchers find a cure for MS.
Accordant is experimenting with a wireless, pulmonary-function-testing device that can be used at home and feeds information directly into patient records.
December 8, 2000