Erlanger receives $1 million award from BlueCross

Erlanger receives $1 million award from BlueCross

July 17th, 2014 by Staff Report in Local - Breaking News

Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel

Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has awarded the Erlanger Health System $1 million for "innovation initiatives" meant to bring down the number of high-risk patients who make repeat visits to the emergency room.

The award will help Erlanger fund a "Care Transition Team" to target high-risk patients 65 and older who have no primary care physician and who make repeated visits to Erlanger's ER within a six-month period, a joint press release said.

High risk conditions include congestive heart failure, COPD and pneumonia, among others.

Within one week of every ER visit to Erlanger, a designated navigator on the Care Transition Team will make a phone call to the patient to make sure the patient is taking medications, to encourage a primary care visit, and to see if further assistance is needed.

Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel said the funds will go towards "more coordinated, patient-centered care, and offer targeted treatment and aftercare services for the chronically ill or injured individuals.

BlueCross leaders said the "Innovation Award" payment is part of a five-year strategic partnership between Erlanger and BlueCross announced last April, which made Erlanger the only Chattanooga health system in the BlueCross' new narrow network, called Network E.

There are currently over 10,000 subscribers in the Erlanger-only Blue Network E - which has allowed Erlanger to increase its commercial business, Spiegel said.

"Our mutual goal in this collaborative effort was to develop innovative approaches - like Erlanger's Care Transition Team - to deliver high-quality, cost-effective health care," said BlueCross CEO Bill Gracey in the statement.