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Humana and Wisconsin Health Information Exchange Announce Collaborative Business Program


Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:00 am EST



Public Company Information:


MILWAUKEE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) has begun working with the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange (WHIE) to ensure that clinicians have access to the most comprehensive community-wide data available for emergency department patients.

As part of their on-going emergency care initiatives, beginning in December 2008, the Humana Inc. plans entered into a pilot program with the WHIE, the first health information exchange in Wisconsin. Health information exchanges, such as WHIE, use information technology to provide secure authorized access to clinical data, improving communication among clinicians, care coordination and reducing unnecessary duplication of services.

“I have seen the positive impact of a physician having a patient’s historical view – it reduces the chance the patient will have unnecessary or redundant tests and results in steps that positively influence the patient’s cost of care delivery,” said Dr. Albert Tzeel, Humana’s regional medical market officer. “For these reasons, I’m proud Humana is taking steps to aid WHIE in this initiative.”

In this program, Humana recognizes the value of applying health information exchange technology, and has agreed to provide a WHIE-administered incentive to providers for utilization of the WHIE.

“We are excited to see an insurer like Humana involved with WHIE and look forward to working with Humana on these initiatives. WHIE now has more than one year of patient history data online, with 13 hospitals contributing to the exchange and five emergency departments using WHIE as a standard in patient care,” said Kim Pemble, chairman of the board and executive director of WHIE. “2009 will bring continued growth for WHIE, building on this new relationship with Humana and an ongoing relationship with Milwaukee Health Care Partnership.”

Additionally, as part of a complementary emergency department program, in August of 2008, Humana initiated a pilot program to help members potentially seeking emergency department care. All members in the pilot program who may need emergency services at some point have received information on self-management strategies and on urgent care as a possible alternative to emergency department use.

In addition, members with two visits within a one-year period receive an age specific self-care education book promoting options for urgent and emergent care. Also, as a further service to members, those individuals with three or more emergency department visits within a one-year period receive a referral to a Humana personal nurse to help address questions on chronic conditions and potentially a referral into one of Humana’s clinical programs.

These programs seek to improve utilization by directing patients with conditions more appropriate for a primary care physician or urgent care centers away from busy emergency departments. Examples include sore throat and flu symptoms, which for a typical patient with no other diagnosed illness are easily addressed in non-emergent settings.

“Emergency departments are intended for life-threatening situations. When a visit to the emergency department occurs for less urgent symptoms, healthcare expenses rise, time delays increase and overcrowded emergency departments get busier yet,” said Larry Rambo, regional CEO for Humana. “We understand the importance of working to reduce healthcare costs while maintaining the highest level of care for patients in Wisconsin.”

“The agreement between the WHIE and Humana is an exciting endorsement of the power of information technology to drive improvement in the healthcare system. With this collaboration, one of the country’s largest health-benefits companies is incenting the re-use of information, which is critical to improving the quality of care and containing costs,” said Peter Neupert, corporate vice president, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. “We are pleased to provide the WHIE with affordable, high-value technology that powers the efficient aggregation and sharing of health data, helping physicians make optimal, timely decisions for patients while driving greater efficiency in the delivery of care across Wisconsin.”

About WHIE

WHIE is the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange, a not-for-profit organization formed to improve the quality, safety efficiency and accessibility of health care and public health by enabling collaboration and information sharing across multiple health care facilities. The WHIE ED Linking Project is being pursued in collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, WI Department of Health Services, and participating health care providers across the greater Milwaukee area. WHIE’s technical business partner is Microsoft Health Solutions Group, with WHIE powered by Amalga.

After establishing its initial membership and pursuing pilot studies in 2005 and 2006, WHIE launched the ED Linking Project in 2007, with clinical use beginning in 2008. As of December 1, 2008 WHIE had 13 hospitals across four delivery networks contributing data to the exchange, and five emergency departments using the exchange in regular patient care. In 2009, WHIE plans to expand the types of data (e.g. lab results, pharmacy information, imaging results) available to participants and also plans to expand the number of participating organizations. More information is available at www.whie.org.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 11.7 million medical members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 48-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio. More information about Humana is available at www.humana.com.


WI Health Information Exchange
Kim R. Pemble, 262-240-0198
Humana Inc.
Amanda Dvorchak Harris, 312-441-5361