Michigan IPA sends chronic care teams to primary care practices

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 12, 2007

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A Detroit-area independent practice association, with a financial commitment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is creating a so-called travel team that it hopes will help the IPA's primary care physicians in managing and treating chronic care patients.

Medical Network One's Chronic Care Travel Team is an 18-member staff of registered nurses, registered dieticians, exercise physiologists, diabetes educators, and mental health specialists who visit the offices of primary care physicians.

The travel team staff provide one-on-one consultations to patients with chronic diseases such as asthma, depression, heart disease and diabetes.

Most disease management programs paid for by health plans are not set up to offer services within the primary care physician's office setting, meaning patients must often travel to multiple sites to receive treatments for chronic illness.

Rochester, Mich.-based Medical Network One said it set up the program to make it easier for patients to receive care, and for physicians to coordinate it.

Under the program, the physician is paid for the primary care office visit, and then the travel team is paid for the services it renders to the patient while in the primary care physician's office.

Thomas Simmer, MD, senior vice president and chief medical office of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, said the plan committed $1.5 million to Medical Network One's program because it was searching for ways to bolster primary care, while at the same time trying to reduce the costs of treating patients with chronic illnesses.

The program is available only to the 200 physicians within the Medical Network One IPA, located in suburban Detroit.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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