Insurer Trains Nurse Care Coordinators

John Commins, February 13, 2012

At an accelerating pace, the nation's health insurance companies are embracing the latest trend in care delivery: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Last month, WellPoint Inc. said it would increase payments to physicians who transition to patient-centered medical homes. Some observers believe the announcement by one of the nation's largest commercial health insurers, covering 34 million lives in affiliated plans, represents a seismic shift in the movement toward coordinated care and preventive medicine.

The plan calls for care management fees for primary care physicians, who could see fee increases of about 10% with incentives that could improve payments by as much as 50%.

And in another sign that the landscape is shifting, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey this month announced that it would fund a collaborative to train 200 nurses in the Garden State over the next two years as "population care coordinators."

Horizon Healthcare Innovations, a subsidiary of Horizon BCBSNJ, said the  "first-of-its-kind initiative" is designed for nurses who work in primary care physicians' offices. The program uses curriculum developed in collaboration with Duke University School of Nursing and Rutgers College of Nursing.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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