Although several state Medicaid programmes and a dozen hospitals have already deployed Baby CareLink, Great-West is the first commercial insurer to use Baby CareLink to improve neonatal care management. Dr. Lawrence Gottlieb, CST's senior vice president and chief medical officer, noted that Great-West's decision to implement Baby CareLink further proves that the health insurance industry is beginning to see the clinical and business benefit of Baby CareLink as an effective alternative to more traditional care management approaches for this high-risk, high-cost population.
"We are delighted to work with Great-West. CST's technology and the Baby CareLink product will enable their care managers to provide better parental education and support on behalf of thousands of premature and medically complex infants", Dr. Gottlieb stated. "We are confident that Baby CareLink will help Great-West reduce neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) use and hospital re-admissions, while improving member satisfaction and care manager productivity."
"By helping care managers educate and support the parents of NICU babies both during the NICU stay and after discharge, Baby CareLink builds parents' self-confidence as caregivers and enables them to take their babies home sooner. This results in real and immediate financial benefits to the payer, benefits that are sustainable because better-trained parents can avoid many of the emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions which occur during the first year of a fragile newborn's life", Dr. Gottlieb stated.
Great-West, along with its subsidiary organisation One Health Plan, has trained its care managers who specialise in child/maternity nursing to use Baby CareLink as a key component of their care management efforts. The care managers will enroll each member who gives birth to a premature or medically complex baby, and then follow the baby's progress in the hospital and after discharge.
Through a secure section of the One Health Plan Web site, the care manager will use Baby CareLink to communicate with parents and direct them to educational materials that will help them understand their baby's unique conditions. Members without Web access can also benefit from the neonatal programme, as Great-West will send the interventions by mail. The member care manager will also focus on teaching the parents how to care for their baby, so they will feel more comfortable leaving the hospital.
"Clinician Support Technology is providing the additional clinical expertise we need to give the highest level of service possible to our members", stated Dr. Steve Gorshow, Great-West's vice president and medical director. "In addition, they are helping us provide these services in an efficient, Web-based environment, which will make things that much quicker and more effective for everyone involved."
Studies have shown that using Baby CareLink improves the clinical outcomes for premature and medically complex babies, since parents can keep close contact with medical staff and learn more about the challenges they face with their infant. That extra knowledge also translates into reduced re-admission rates during the first year of life, and so lowers the overall cost of care.
"First-year of life medical costs for low-birth-weight babies are high, ranging from $15.000 to as much as $32.000. It is no wonder, considering low-birth-weight babies have a 40 percent hospital re-admission rate and a high rate of emergency room usage. We are confident we can address statistics like these with the right programme", Dr. Gorshow stated.
Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co., headquartered in Denver, serves its customers through a full range of health care, life and disability insurance, annuities, and retirement savings plans and services. It is an indirect subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc. and a member of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies.
CST Baby CareLink is the first suite of products incorporating the innovative CST CareLink technology to support parents and clinicians in improving neonatal care and care management. Both CST Baby CareLink CM, a suite of modules for care managers, and CST Baby CareLink HS, a suite of modules for hospitals and health care systems, provide clinicians and parents with innovative Internet-supported tools that foster an environment where parents become more active participants in their baby's care. Providing parents with timely information empowers them to play a more active part in their child's care, establishes a common framework for understanding milestones to be achieved, and reinforces clinicians teaching and planning for the infant's family.
These programmes have been used successfully for both commercially insured and Medicaid populations. The improved connectivity between clinicians, care managers, and parents of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit has been demonstrated in a randomised clinical trial to reduce overall length of hospital stay while dramatically improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided. Improved parent satisfaction and decreased hospital re-admissions are also achieved.
Clinician Support Technology Inc. develops Collaborative Healthware to empower patients, families, and clinicians. With a seasoned management team from the health care and insurance industries, as well as funding from the National Institutes of Health and other private investors, CST has created several innovative products to improve patient care and reduce medical expenses at the same time. More news about CST's Baby Carelink is available in the VMW August 2002 article Clinician Support Technology introduces Baby CareLink for electronic neonatal care in Colorado.