SOURCE: Health Hero Network

July 07, 2005 09:00 ET

Health Hero Network Awarded Medicare Demonstration Project That Will Use Innovative Technology Based Preventive Care for Patients

Health Hero Network and Medical Groups Will Deploy Health Buddy® System, Enabling Doctors to Coach and Monitor Patients at Home

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 7, 2005 -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) selected a Health Hero Network-led consortium to demonstrate how doctors can use home health monitoring technology to help Medicare patients struggling with chronic illness lead happier, healthier, longer lives.

Health Hero Network's Health Buddy® system will support doctors at medical groups in Oregon and Washington in coaching and monitoring high-cost Medicare patients to help them stay healthy and out of the hospital.

Most Medicare costs are associated with patients with severe, complex chronic illness.(1) The CMS Care Management for High-Cost Beneficiaries Demonstration is designed to show how doctors and hospitals can focus on prevention, rather than the current, crisis-driven approach to care. Health Hero Network has shown, through work with the Veterans Health Administration, that doctors and nurses using the Health Buddy-based program reduced hospital admissions by 63 percent, which substantially improved patients' lives.(2)

Health Hero Network and partners have named its effort the ACCENT Project -- Advancing Chronic Care through E*Health Networks and Technologies. Other ACCENT Project team members are the American Medical Group Association, Bend Memorial Clinic in Bend, Oregon, and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center in Wenatchee, Washington.

"Doctors and patients, supported by technology, will work together to transform how we care for people with complex chronic illness," said Steve Brown, Health Hero Network's President and CEO. "We've helped improve the quality of life for thousands of veterans through our work with the VA. We're excited about having a similar impact on the lives of thousands of other American seniors in Medicare."

ACCENT has developed a consistent, technology-based care management process. The medical groups will enroll up to 2,000 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The goals are to demonstrate improvements in quality of life and care for enrolled patients, and at least a 5 percent net savings in Medicare costs of caring for those patients. The three-year demonstration program is scheduled to begin in January 2006.

Patients will be given a Health Buddy appliance, which doctors and nurses use to coach patients on preventive behaviors. Doctors and nurses at the two medical groups will track patients using the Health Buddy system's iCare Desktop, a secure Web-based software application. This application gives doctors and nurses immediate data to spot problems early, preventing crises that would lead to emergency room visits and hospital stays.

Beneficiary participation in the Care Management for High-Cost Beneficiaries programs will be voluntary and will not change the amount, duration or scope of participants' fee-for-service Medicare benefits. Fee-for-service Medicare benefits will continue to be covered, administered and paid under the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program. Programs will be offered at no additional cost beyond patients' traditional fee-for-service Medicare benefits. Organizations chosen for the demonstration will not be able to restrict beneficiary access to care or restrict beneficiaries to a limited number of physicians in a network.

About Health Hero Network

Health Hero Network develops and markets the Health Buddy® system for health improvement. The Health Buddy system serves as the interface between patients at home and care providers, facilitating patient education and monitoring of chronic conditions. The system includes monitoring technologies, clinical information databases, Internet-enabled decision support tools, health management programs and content development tools. Through increased communication, behavior modification, and prevention, the Health Buddy system improves the quality of care. Based in Mountain View, California, Health Hero Network's systems are protected by over 55 issued US patents. http://www.healthhero.com

Health Hero Network is also participating as a subcontractor in two Medicare Health Support projects. Up to 180,000 Medicare patients around the country will be enrolled in those programs beginning in summer 2005. Those patients will receive chronic care improvement services through disease management organizations and health plans.

(1) "High-Cost Medicare Beneficiaries," Congressional Budget Office, May 2005, http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=6332&sequence=0

(2) Virtually Healthy: Chronic Disease Management in the Home. In Disease Management, 5(2): 87-94 (2002).

Contact Information

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