Medicare: Making It Work Better

Health care is undergoing one of the most important evolutionary – or perhaps revolutionary – changes
in its modern history.

We are not talking about the Affordable Care Act, but instead the shift in emphasis from simply providing medical services (i.e. helping sick people get well) to holistically working to keep people healthy. Like our automobiles, it is easier and less time consuming — and therefore more cost effective — to maintain our health in good working order than to repair it when it breaks.

A second and equally far reaching change is integrating the health delivery system. Health First, Brevard County’s leading health care and health insurance provider, worked with medical professionals across the county to implement a system that reflects this growing trend toward a seamless delivery of services.

In what soon may become an industry standard, Health First has rolled out a fully-integrated delivery network that offers patients a continuum of services ranging from preventive care to post-acute situations and utilizes electronic record keeping to strategically link communication between providers and across services.

“Traditionally, health care has been very fragmented,” said Dr. Jennifer Brady, Health First Health Plans vice president and medical director. “In an integrated delivery network, the care is well-coordinated. We know the most common reason for re-admissions are medication errors. In an integrated delivery network, you can have your medications delivered to your hospital bed after being reviewed by the pharmacist.

“The Health First Care Managers (HFCM) make sure you have an appointment with your primary care physician soon after you are discharged from the hospital. The Health First electronic medical record also ensures that even if your doctor didn’t see you in the hospital, he or she knows what happens and can seamlessly continue your treatment.

“Our home health care is another part of the team that can meet your needs in your home and, when needed, Health First Hospice is there to provide support and comfort during the most difficult times for patients and families. The key to an integrated delivery network is that all services are linked,” explained Brady.

Stronger Links, Better Care

Linking physician groups, local hospitals and even rehabilitation and fitness centers ensures this holistic approach is unbroken. For Medicare members this is especially important. Health First offers a program where a provider will be sent to the member’s home for a comprehensive health assessment.  In this system, once a relationship is built between one of the various service providers, the links are established.

Brady indicated the integrated delivery network is a change in culture and a blending of resources to provide the right kind of health care, at the right time and in the right setting, through the use of its countless resources throughout the system network. By taking this approach, the health service provider will be able to keep costs down for both the patient and the hospital, a win-win for both parties.

“The days of taking one test for one doctor … then that same test for another doctor are over. Well-coordinated care in an integrated system is delivered as a team approach,” Brady affirmed. “This avoids duplication of exams, excess medications and delays in care. In addition to the improved efficiency, it offers evidence-based care and better outcomes for patients, which leads to lower expenses.”

The organization also has a management system in place to help follow patients through their continuum of services from pre-acute to post-acute status so the patient isn’t left trying to put everything together themselves.

Reaction to this approach has been strong among current members. “We are receiving positive feedback especially for the commitment to wellness through our gym membership,” Brady commented. “Specific to the integrated delivery network, many people aren’t thinking that they are part of a ‘new’ program.  Success is seen when you just know that no matter where you enter the Health First system, you are able to relax and know that your needs are taken care of.”

Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits

Health First Health Plans Medicare Advantage Plans provide benefits to take care of you should you become ill — plus ones to help you stay healthy so you can get the most out of life.

Health First Health Plans offer benefits like fitness memberships, which members can use every day. Members have access to amenities such as treadmills, weights, heated pools and fitness classes that are included with a basic fitness membership. While each location may offer different choices and amenities, all locations provide a variety of exercise options. The program offers:

• No initiation fee, no contract and no hassles

• Classes to help you work out and improve strength and flexibility

• A great opportunity to improve your health while meeting new friends

Health First Health Plans offer everything original Medicare does, plus added benefits to help you make the most of your health. To learn more, call (800) 716-7737 or visit HealthFirstHealthPlans.org.