URAC to accredit first six disease management services companies and another 15 health Web sites

Washington D.C. 06 August 2002URAC, the Washington D.C.-based health accreditation organisation, has named six companies which have been accredited under its new Disease Management Standards, a programme designed to empower patients by giving them an expanded role in managing their own chronic diseases. URAC also announced that 15 more health Web sites have achieved accreditation under URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation programme. The newly accredited sites include some of the largest and busiest health plan Web sites, providing services to 14,5 million members.

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The accredited companies are American Healthways Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee; Cost Care Inc. dba UNICARE/Cost Care of Huntington Beach, California; First Health Group Corp. of Downers Grove, Illinois; FutureHealth Corporation of Timonium, Maryland; National Health Services of Louisville, Kentucky; and SHPS Healthcare Services of Scottsdale, Arizona. An additional seven companies have begun the accreditation process.

"URAC's Disease Management Accreditation programme promotes shared decision-making between patients and providers, and encourages health care organisations to be more pro-active in managing chronic diseases", stated Garry Carneal, URAC president and CEO. "The result for patients should be better health outcomes, earlier intervention, and overall better patient satisfaction. Disease management is an important growing trend in today's health care environment and in the workplace. In addition to the obvious benefits of improving quality and patient health, disease management will help employers and providers to more effectively manage health care resources."

URAC reviewed the six companies at thirteen separate sites providing disease management services. The companies that have received this prestigious new accreditation have lauded the programme as an additional sign of credibility and trust for their own programmes.

The URAC programme includes 22 disease management specific standards plus 43 core standards addressing company operations. The programme involves a detailed description of what companies must do to achieve accreditation. The standards were developed through a process which encouraged broad-based input from a committee of disease management experts. Members included representatives of stakeholder groups, including providers, payers, and health care delivery organisations.

The organisations who have begun the accreditation process include American Chiropractic Network of Minnetonka, Minnesota; CorSolutions Inc. of Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Healthtronix Lymphedema Management Inc. of Plano, Texas; Hines and Associates Inc. of Elgin, Illinois; and Wausau Benefits Inc. of Wausau, Wisconsin. "We are confident the number of companies going through this process will rise because we believe a quality benchmark for disease management will build consumer trust and help to distinguish the excellent programmes", Mr. Carneal stated.

In turn, URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation programme is the first of its kind, and promotes quality and accountability in on-line health information and services. In total, 32 million health plan members can now obtain health information and services through their health plan's URAC-accredited Web site. URAC expects that number to approach 55 million, about one-fifth of the United States population, by the end of the year.

"The 15 new accreditations underscore the value of URAC Health Web Site Accreditation to organisations trying to build trust in their on-line health resources", stated Garry Carneal, URAC president and CEO. "As more and more consumers are accessing their health plans on-line, trust is crucial to the delivery of health information and services."

The Web sites to achieve URAC accreditation are:

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nevada
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio
  • The Principal Financial Group
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon Inc.
  • Consumer Health Interactive

The newly accredited Web sites are powered by Consumer Health Interactive (CHI), an AdvancePCS company, and a developer of consumer-focused customised Web sites on behalf of its health plan clients. These sites feature consumer content, disease management tools, personalisation, and links to relevant health plan services and programmes.

"The URAC seal gives consumers the added assurance that CHI's sites are a credible and trustworthy resource for the information and tools they need to better manage their own health and care", stated Daniel A. Segedin, CHI president and CEO. "Our customers have always looked to CHI to demonstrate leadership in quality and best practices. The URAC seal is one more example of our commitment to meeting high industry standards."

The URAC Health Web Site Accreditation standards, released July 30, 2001, cover a number of important issues including health content editorial process, disclosure of financial relationships, linking to other Web sites, privacy and security, and mechanisms for consumer complaints. The standards also contain requirements to assure organisations have adequate internal processes and structure to monitor and maintain Web site quality over time.

URAC announced 13 of the nation's first accredited Web sites in December 2001. These include some of the nations largest and busiest health Web sites including WebMD, Aetna's InteliHealth, and Group Health Inc. In April 2002, URAC announced that MEDLINEplus was the first government sponsored site to achieve accreditation.

URAC is a leader in the accreditation of health and managed care organisations. Founded in 1990, URAC currently offers 14 accreditation programmes that span a broad spectrum of health care services. URAC has issued over 2300 accreditation certificates to more than 500 health care programmes. URAC-accredited organisations do business in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada and provide services to more than 120 million people. More URAC news is available in the VMW August 2002 article HealthAtoZ.com portal seventeenth health site to receive URAC accreditation.


Leslie Versweyveld

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