Regence pilot program sends no-cost blood pressure cuffs to select Medicare members’ homes, partners with health care providers

March 08, 2021
heart health 2

Improving heart health with data, teamwork and home delivery

By Regence

The data was clear in late 2020—we had an opportunity to help our more vulnerable members with in-home care support as we all waited for COVID-19 vaccines to become available. While reviewing care claims from across our service areas, we found that thousands of our Regence Medicare members with high blood pressure had not had an annual blood pressure reading on file with their doctors. Missing blood pressure screenings are known by medical professionals as a “care gap”—the information is critical for doctors to help members maintain and improve their heart health. This is especially true for people age 65 and older who can enroll in a Medicare health plan.

After reviewing the available data and resources on hand, Regence leaders developed a pilot program to deliver about 4,000 no-cost blood pressure cuffs to select members’ homes. Deliveries included the device and instructions about how to record blood pressure readings.

blood pressure cuff log example
Example blood pressure log for members to track their readings for their doctors

Partnering with members and doctors for better health, preventative care

When we sent the cuffs, we also notified the members’ doctors and health systems. This way the doctors can work with their patients to monitor and record blood pressure readings beyond in-person office visits. The American Health Association reports that while nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, many are not aware of the condition—a big reason high blood pressure is known as the silent killer.

“Preventative care can help detect potential long-term conditions, providing people and their doctors with more time for treatment,” says Dr. Marion Couch, senior vice president of Health Care Services and chief medical officer at Regence. “Having your blood pressure taken at least at every doctor visit is important—we hope the blood pressure cuffs will enable some of our members to monitor their heart health from the safety and comfort of home.  By sharing this information with their doctors, it will enhance preventative care programs.”

Strong heart health, strong health plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) looks at blood pressure information when it rates the quality of a Medicare health plan, considering blood pressure an important measure of how the plan is helping to improve members’ heart health. CMS provides Star Ratings to Medicare health plans every year to help guide shoppers to high-quality coverage. In 2021, 95% of Regence Medicare members are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan rated four stars or higher (out of five total stars).

We work year-round with members who have high blood pressure and their providers to make sure blood pressure readings are recorded at least once a year as part of each member’s preventative care.

We’re here to help

Regence members can sign in to their online account at regence.com to learn more about their covered preventative care benefits, virtual care options and more. Creating a new account takes only a few minutes. Our Customer Service team is also available to help Regence members by calling the number on the back of their ID card.

 

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