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The MedEncentive Information Therapy Program

Easy to implement and maintain, our Information Therapy Program has been proving its cost containment capabilities since 2004. The term “information therapy” and its symbol “Ix®” were coined by Healthwise to mean: “providing patients with the right information at the right time, in understandable terms, so patients can make an informed decision about their health.”

So why did we select Information Therapy as our initial program? Studies show that people who are medically illiterate will consume more healthcare resources. In fact, these studies estimate that as much as 12% of total healthcare costs are associated with medical illiteracy. Worse yet, a medically illiterate person is twice as likely to experience premature death.

A problem closely associated with medical illiteracy is poor doctor-patient communications. Studies have found that:

  • doctors on average interrupt patients in the first 23 seconds of an encounter,
  • patients understand only 15% of what their doctors tell them, and
  • patients comply with their doctors’ recommendations only 50% of the time.

Another well-known study determined that doctors practice recommended care only 55% of the time. Furthermore, the practice of defensive medicine to protect providers against malpractice lawsuits adds 5%-9% to the total cost of healthcare.

All tolled, medical illiteracy, poor doctor-patient communications, non-recommended care and defensive medicine costs employers and insurers 25% or more in healthcare expenditures. These costs are avoidable and that is exactly what the MedEncentive Information Therapy Program does.

So how does this program work?

As with all our products, the MedEncentive Information Therapy Program is designed to engage both patients (beneficiaries) and their doctors. Health plan beneficiaries are introduced to this program by their employer or insurer with the help of MedEncentive’s Employee/Member Kit. Doctors are introduced to the Information Therapy Program in a variety of ways to include direct mailings, emails, fax notices, professional and practice manager meetings, and telephone calls. But perhaps the most common means of physician introduction is through their covered patients at the time of service.

Physicians can practice the Information Therapy Program either at the time of the in-person patient visit or after a patient visit during the normal claim-filing process or even later by responding to a MedEncentive email notification. Doctors may choose to access the MedEncentive Web site themselves or delegate this function to their staff. The point is that the program has been designed to be fast, easy and flexible for physicians to use.

Once a doctor accesses the MedEncentive website, the program presents an evidence-based treatment guideline and patient educational content specific to the patient’s diagnosis. The doctor is asked two simple, but direct questions:

  1. Are you following this guideline in the treatment of this patient?
  2. Which information therapy article do you wish to prescribe to this patient?

That’s it. Fast and easy. In fact, once doctors become familiar with the guidelines and their favorite articles for the diagnoses they treat most frequently, it takes less than a minute to practice the Information Therapy Program. And doctors get paid as much as 20% ($15) more for that office visit.

The doctor’s responses to these questions generate an “information therapy prescription” to the patient at the time of service or via mail or e-mail. If the doctor fails to practice the program, the patient still receives a prescription generated from the insurance claim submitted by the doctor.

The information therapy prescription directs the patient to the MedEncentive Web site where the patient is asked to read the material and answer questions that accomplish five goals:

  1. Establish the patient’s understanding of his or her condition and the recommended treatments (i.e. medical literacy)
  2. Report the patient’s current health status
  3. Record the patient’s declaration of adherence to the recommended treatments
  4. Obtain the patient’s authorization to share the patient’s understanding, health status and adherence declaration with his or her doctor
  5. Rate the doctor’s care compared to the recommended care the patient just read and demonstrated he or she understood (Since the patient was the only other person present at the time of service, we believe this is the most objective and efficient way of rating doctor performance, especially compared to insurance companies or the government rating doctors based on claims data or physician reported data.)

As the patient answers the questions, he or she scores points toward a financial reward. If the patient accomplishes these five goals, then he or she will earn a financial reward such as a rebate of an office co-payment or a reduction in insurance costs or a credit to a health savings account.

What makes our program unique is that the financial rewards require both doctors and patients to declare or demonstrate compliance against recommended care and healthy behaviors, and then confirm or acknowledge the other party’s declaration. We call this process “declare and confirm.” It is this feature that taps into the doctor-patient relationship to achieve “mutual accountability.”

It follows that when doctors are judged objectively by their patients, they practice better and less costly medicine. More importantly, studies have shown that patients who are medically literate, empowered and motivated by the oversight of their doctors are more compliant and healthier. In effect, patients don’t want their doctors, who they trust and respect, to think they are medically illiterate or non-compliant. Conversely, doctors don’t want their patients to think they practice sub-standard care. MedEncentive uses financial rewards and a system of web-based checks and balances to encourage doctors and patients to respond to one another in ways that promote better medicine and healthier behaviors. We have been demonstrating for a number of years that our system leads to lower costs.

There are other important features to the MedEncentive Information Therapy Program. One such feature involves authorizing and, in fact, encouraging doctors to deviate from recommended treatment guidelines if, in the judgment of the doctor, the guideline does not fit in a particular circumstance. Our program simply asks the doctor to communicate the reason the guideline doesn’t fit to the patient. This is done through a convenient drop-down menu of reasons for deviation, which is conveyed to the patient through our Web site. We then ask the patient to express an opinion as to the doctor’s reason for deviation. This method helps insure that the doctor and patient are communicating, which is a win for the employer/insurer. This “anti-cookbook medicine” feature allows doctors to use their clinical judgment as opposed to force fitting a treatment when it is not appropriate. Only MedEncentive’s program with its process of “declare and confirm” can accomplish this important feat.

Benefits: Through the MedEncentive Information Therapy Program, doctors are well compensated for practicing a higher standard of care without sacrificing their clinical judgment. Our program can also help make doctors faster in clinic because MedEncentive serves as a patient communication tool that is much more effective and efficient than oral instructions.

Patients are financially rewarded for demonstrating medical literacy, declaring compliance to their doctor and for rating their doctor’s performance. More importantly, patients are empowered to gain and maintain better health.

Better performing doctors plus medically literate, compliant, empowered, and motivated patients equates to healthcare cost savings to the employer or insurer.

That’s a Win-Win-Win…

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