|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
May 7, 2012
HHC Diabetic Patient Health Outcomes Continue to Improve
Telemedicine Program Helps Reduce Hospitalizations
Electronic Patient Registry, Education Classes and Patient Support Groups Also Part Of Comprehensive Approach To Manage Care For More Than 55,000 New Yorkers With Diabetes
New York, NY – The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced that the diabetic patient population served by the public hospitals system continues to achieve better health outcomes by controlling blood sugar levels. Approximately 48.1% of HHC’s diabetic patients monitored in the past 6 months achieved healthy A1c blood sugar levels of 7 or less in 2011, up nearly six percentage points from 2007. HHC credits the improvements to a comprehensive chronic disease management program that includes innovative interventions like the House Calls telemedicine program which helped reduce hospitalizations for a high risk group of diabetics, the diabetes patient electronic registry which allows doctors to better monitor patients, and education classes and support groups that are available across the HHC public hospitals system.
“Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in New York City, and HHC facilities are battling the disease on many fronts,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “Our comprehensive approach to diabetic care, which includes free screenings, increased attention to early diabetes detection in clinical visits, and innovative patient-centered interventions, have helped more and more of our patients to reach healthy controls. We know these interventions can not only improve health outcomes, but also help reduce the long term costs associated with diabetes complications.”
HHC’s House Calls Telehealth program has helped nearly 1,200 New Yorkers with severe diabetes to significantly lower their blood sugar levels, avoiding hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room. Over seventy percent of the patients enrolled in House Calls for at least six months have significantly decreased their A1c levels, or blood sugar, and of those, nearly 40% have reached the recommended goal of an A1c of 7, a healthy level according to healthcare providers. When patients first start the House calls program A1c levels can range from more than 9 to as high as 16. Patients enrolled in House Calls have also seen an 8% decrease in hospitalizations and a 6% reduction in ER visits. The program, which is available to patients enrolled in the MetroPlus health plan, costs about $3,600 a year per patient, less than the cost of a single hospitalization which is approximately $7,200.
“These results encourage us to continue offering this great alternative to our MetroPlus members as part of our case management services,” said Dr. Arnold Saperstein, MetroPlus CEO. “Our main goal as a public health plan is to offer the best comprehensive services available to improve the health and quality of life for all of our members. We are proud to be at the forefront of this battle, helping diabetic members to gain control over their health and live healthy lives.”
House Calls Telehealth Program
The HHC House Calls program teaches people with diabetes to manage their own treatment by electronically transmitting via modem, the daily blood sugar readings taken by patients in their homes, to a team of nurse case managers. Patients are provided with the equipment that connects to a telephone modem the size of a flip phone that is easily plugged in at home. The equipment is then used to measure blood sugar and sometimes weight, and blood pressure. These readings are then transmitted to the House Calls nurses with the push of a button via the program's toll free phone line. Readings that are outside acceptable levels trigger automatic alerts and clinicians then work to guide the patient back to controlled levels before a health crisis occurs. House Calls also helps patients design weekly meal plans and develop strategies to control their weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. The program is available at no cost to diabetic patients enrolled in MetroPlus, HHC's insurance plan, if their blood tests indicate poor self management of their disease and are referred by their doctor.
Since 2006, HHC has been monitoring its 58,000 diabetic patients with its diabetic e-registry, a web-based tool that uses information from HHC's advanced electronic medical records data and provides a real-time "snapshot" of ongoing patient care—blood sugar levels, medications prescribed, even data about necessary eye tests and foot exams. The information enables doctors to give more targeted, evidence-based treatment and makes possible better-controlled blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This works to reduce the risk of such severe complications as heart trouble, blindness and kidney failure.
Education Classes and Support Groups
Diabetes educational courses and support groups are offered to all HHC patients with diabetes, their families and care partners. Patients who attend the classes receive instruction from certified diabetes educators on healthy behaviors using the American Association of Diabetes Educators Self-Care Behaviors Framework. Patients in the courses develop the skills to take control of their diabetes and learn things like healthy eating habits, exercise routines, proper monitoring, medication compliance and healthy coping. HHC facilities also offer WeCOACH, a six-week exercise and wellness program that helps patients who are over 60 years old and who have uncontrolled diabetes participate in easy, accessible, senior-focused exercise and wellness programs in their own community. Peer Coaches are assigned to help guide patients in their diabetes management. WeCOACH is offered at Jacobi, North Central Bronx and Lincoln Hospitals.
Online Diabetes Wellness Center
HHC’s online Diabetes Wellness Center has been a one stop shop for diabetic patients, providing them with general information, nutritional and exercise tips and information on other HHC diabetes programs. Patients can learn more about what causes diabetes, what can be done to treat its effects, read stories of how other HHC diabetic patients have adopted healthier lifestyles, and learn from HHC experts about the most important things to focus on to successfully manage diabetes.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlus, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission's John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.
MetroPlus Health Plan, Inc. is a health services plan certified under Section 4403-a of the New York Public Health Law and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country, MetroPlus provides managed care to over 420,000 eligible people living in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. In addition to Medicaid Managed Care, MetroPlus offers Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and several Medicare Advantage Plans and a Special Needs Plan (SNP) for people with HIV and their families. In operation for more than 25 years, MetroPlus offers a vast network of primary care doctors and specialists, including many independent community providers. Plan staff is drawn from the communities that MetroPlus serves and speaks more than seventy languages.