Welvie Surgery Shared Decision-Support Program Showing Early Success

Medicare beneficiaries in Ohio give high marks to program, feel better prepared to talk with doctors about treatment options

ST. LOUIS, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Welvie, a Health Care Innovation Challenge federal grant awardee, reported positive results within the first six months of launching its surgery decision-support program with select Medicare beneficiaries in Ohio.

Welvie joined with WellPoint, Inc. to bring the innovative Welvie decision-support program to Medicare Advantage members in WellPoint's affiliated Medicare Advantage health plans in Ohio.

The grant initiative is intended to demonstrate how the Welvie surgery decision-support program can help Medicare enrollees work with their doctors to improve decision-making and outcomes when considering preference-sensitive surgeries.

More than 2,500 Medicare beneficiaries – twice the expected response rate – have participated in the program within the first six months of the offering. About 60 percent of the participating Medicare beneficiaries accessed the program online, demonstrating an increasing trend of Medicare beneficiaries using the Internet for health care information. Interest is strong for those without online capabilities as well, as the remainder requested the program's booklet and gave it high ratings.

Regardless of how the Welvie program is accessed, it has received high marks from participants, including:

  • 98 percent of those participating in the program responded that they clearly understood there are usually at least two treatment options available other than surgery for many conditions
  • 94 percent said the Welvie program helped prepare them to speak with their doctor about their health
  • 97 percent responded that they are more likely to interview their doctor as a result of using the program
  • 95 percent stated that they are likely to refer a friend to the program
  • 95 percent answered that they will use the program again

"We are encouraged by these early results and are confident in our continued success of addressing the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) goals of better health, better health care and lower costs," said Chip Tooke, executive chairman of Welvie.

"We are excited to participate with Welvie in this grant initiative, which empowers Medicare beneficiaries to better understand how to work with their doctors when considering important health care decisions," said Leeba Lessin, executive vice president of WellPoint and president of its affiliated Medicare businesses.

Welvie's project, supported by a $6.76 million grant received in August through Funding Opportunity Number CMS-1C1-12-0001 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is focused on helping Medicare beneficiaries work with their doctors to understand all of their treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, and when surgery is determined to be the correct course of treatment, assist them in preparing for the procedure and their recovery.

About Welvie
Welvie is a pioneering surgery decision-support company. Its shared decision-making program helps consumers make more fully informed decisions about surgery, while helping health plans, employers and government agencies in improving outcomes for patients, whether they choose surgery or not.

About WellPoint, Inc.
At WellPoint, we believe there is an important connection between our members' health and well-being—and the value we bring our customers and shareholders. So each day we work to improve the health of our members and their communities. And, we can make a real difference since we have more than 36 million people in our affiliated health plans, and nearly 67 million people served through our subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint's plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare and in certain markets through our Amerigroup and CareMore subsidiaries. Our 1-800 CONTACTS, Inc. subsidiary offers customers online sales of contact lenses, eyeglasses and other ocular products. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

WellPoint affiliated plans are health plans with a Medicare contract.

Y0071_13_16846_I 03/08/2013

The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity Number CMS-1C1-12-0001 from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.

Media Inquiries:
Doug Kronenberg, Welvie

Doug Bennett, Jr., WellPoint

Media Contact: Doug Kronenberg Welvie, 866-424-0022, dkronenberg@welvie.com

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