Provider targets blood glucose testing

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Mail-order provider Horizon MedCorp. thinks it has found a way to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes by tracking blood glucose testing.

The Responsible Resupply Program, launched in March, is geared toward employers looking to reign in healthcare costs. With the average cost of a test strip around 65 cents, the expense of paying for unused supplies adds up, said Doug Cruitt, Horizon president.

"By making sure patients are using what they are supposed to be using, we figure we should be able to save, on average, $250 to $400 per year on most patients," he said. "That's just on test strip utilization."

The program is simple. The patient receives reminders each week to upload testing data from his glucometer. That information is sent to a disease management company and adjustments are made—in conjunction with the patient's healthcare team—if necessary.

For example, if a patient is supposed to test three times a day, but is only testing once per day and their blood glucose numbers are good, the prescription may need to be rewritten for fewer strips. Conversely, if their blood glucose numbers are deteriorating, the patient may need some additional education about why it is important to test more regularly.

"The improvement in health outcomes is hard to quantify this early, but we anticipate millions of dollars will be saved, not to mention countless lives, limbs and eyes," said Cruitt.

The program is currently being offered to employers on a trial basis. Cruitt estimates that in three to six months, Horizon will start charging a low monthly fee for the service, based on how comprehensive a program the company chooses.

Horizon MedCorp. has long touted the benefits of compliance monitoring to physicians, but because it is not reimbursable, it's been a tough sell. Creating a model that creates positive financial outcomes for employers and health plans could be a win-win for everyone, said Cruitt.

"If (the employer) is seeing a cost savings, we hope that they are passing that along (to the patient)," said Cruitt. "If there are incentives, they may adhere even more to what they are told to do."