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CPBJ Extra Blog

Catching up on the small news

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Health care has lots of big news these days, but the smaller stuff matters, too -- and today I have a lot of that for you, from across our coverage area.



United Way of York County and the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership say together they have saved local residents $246,215 on mental health prescription medications they might not have been able to afford otherwise, with total savings on all prescription medication at $661,559.

FamilyWize says it brings together millions of uninsured and underinsured individuals and families into one umbrella-buying group to negotiate discounts averaging 40 percent and sometimes as much as 75 percent or more “similar to what pharmacies give the largest insurance companies and employers.”

“Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped nearly 7 million people get medicine they otherwise could not afford, which accounts for close to $700 million in direct savings on prescriptions,” it says.

The FamilyWize cards may be used by anyone in need and are provided free through United Way of York County.

“Prescription medicine is crucial for maintaining mental health, but the high costs often act as a barrier,” Robert Woods, executive director of United Way of York County, said in a news release. “This assistance is especially important to York County, where there is only one mental health provider for every 1,612 residents. This is almost double the amount of people per provider compared to the Pennsylvania average of one provider for every 865 residents. The FamilyWize prescription savings program can make the difference in whether or not a patient obtains the proper medicine and follows proper treatment.”


Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Centers have announced that they recently became part of the Penn State Hershey TeleStroke program LionNet, “thus widely expanding our physician expertise base without the patient having to travel long distances to another hospital for stoke expertise.”


Pennsylvania legislators have voted to establish a state task force on Lyme disease. Knowing people who have the terrible disease, I’m generally in favor of efforts to stop it. But I can’t help thinking that bringing back the Lyme vaccine would probably be a lot more helpful.


Monday’s story on Holy Spirit Health System moving ahead on becoming a Geisinger Health System affiliate had a partial list of organizations that have joined the Geisinger family in recent years or are in the process of doing so. Here’s the complete list.

* Jan. 1, 2012 -- Shamokin Area Community Hospital merges into Geisinger Medical Center.

* Feb. 1, 2012 – Community Medical Center merges into Geisinger Health System.

* July 1, 2012 – Bloomsburg Hospital merges into Geisinger Health System.

* Oct. 28, 2013 – Full merger and integration of Lewistown Hospital into Geisinger Health System approved.

* April 16, 2014 – Geisinger Community Health Services and SUN Home Health & Hospice announced today the signing of a comprehensive integration agreement by which SUN Home Health & Hospice will become part of the Geisinger Health System.

* May 27, 2014 -- AtlantiCare health system, Atlantic City, N.J., and Geisinger Health System announce the signing of a definitive agreement for AtlantiCare to become a member of Geisinger Health System.

* June 23, 2014 – Geisinger Health System and Holy Spirit Health System, Camp Hill, announced the signing of a definitive agreement for Holy Spirit to become an affiliate of Geisinger Health System.


Family First Health and TrueNorth Wellness Services are collaborating on Collaborative Care: Integrating Mind and Body for Better Health, which they say is the first behavioral health partnership in the region.

It works this way: Collaborative Care employs a behavioral health consultant with TrueNorth Wellness Services to work on site at Family First Health. The consultant follows up on behavioral health issues identified through a patient health questionnaire administered at each visit.

The partners say integrating the services provides low-cost, efficient care that reduces the stigma of behavioral health issues. The program is based on the IMPACT model tested at the University of Washington.


Heard of SilverSneakers?

I have -- because a sibling of mine once worked at a gym -- so I was interested to see that Highmark Inc. has extended its long-term partnership with Healthways Inc. to offer the program to eligible members through 2017. According to the news release, the partnership began in 2004 and SilverSneakers is available to nearly 400,000 eligible Highmark Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and group retiree members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Even more interesting (to me, at least) is what comes next: 60 percent of Highmark’s SilverSneakers enrollees reported their health as excellent or very good, twice the national average of 30 percent of the general population for older adults. Seventy-two percent of Highmark respondents stated their health did not limit them in daily activities, compared to the national average of 40 percent for older adults. And 51 percent of Highmark members engaged in 30 minutes or more of moderately intense physical activity at least four days each week, with 60 percent participating in classes with a friend.


Lancaster General Health has chosen Explorys’ Enterprise Performance Management Application Suite to assist with its population health management strategies.

“We have seen the power of the Explorys Platform and are excited to take full advantage of the company’s big data analytics solutions,” said Gary Davidson, Lancaster’s CIO. “As we expand our efforts to transform our care models, we see Explorys as a tool that will help us in a value-based compensation environment, and are confident that Explorys’ solutions will deliver metrics and analytics to help us better manage our populations.”

Explorys says its cloud-based platform serves 19 integrated health care systems, 310 hospitals and more than 220,000 providers to identify patterns in diseases and improve treatments and outcomes. The company was founded in 2009 as an innovation spinoff from Cleveland Clinic.


Finally, two things for your reading pleasure.

This is because I know that talk of premiums positively entrances you: “Premiums Rise at Big Insurers, Fall at Small Rivals Under Health Law: Many Consumers Face Choice of Paying More for Old Plan or Saving Money by Switching.”

And who wouldn’t want to learn about this? “How our experiment decreased time to appt for @PennMedicine patients.”


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