Health Net Expands Nursing Outreach Service to Members
Health Net is expanding a program in which nurses answer members' health questions over the telephone and provide follow-up services, the East Bay Business Times reports.
In the past, nurses mainly would answer phone calls from patients about an illness or upcoming surgery. Under the expansion, nurses will increase the number of calls to patients to inquire about a doctor's visit, identify risks or just check in.
The five-year program contracts with nurses from Boston-based Health Dialog. The nurses initiated 50,000 calls on behalf of Health Net in 2007 and plan to make 150,000 calls this year.
Health Dialog maintains that its nurses only provide information and do not make recommendations about diagnosis.
According to the Business Times, the program helps Health Net compete with Kaiser Permanente, in which hospitals, doctors and health plans are under one network.
George Bennett, CEO of Health Dialog, maintains that its outreach program reduces hospitalizations and health care costs. However, a RAND analysis found inconclusive evidence that such programs decrease hospitalizations, except with patients of congestive heart failure and with depression (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 1/21).