DEARBORN - Ford Motor Company, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust (RMBT) teamed up last summer to launch a pilot program in southeastern Michigan designed to provide enhanced healthcare for active hourly Ford employees and retired members of the Trust who do not receive Medicare.
“The goal of the two-year Enhanced Care Program (ECP) pilot is to test a new model of care for people who suffer from multiple chronic health issues – such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension – and provide them with additional resources to better manage their health, improve their quality of life and ultimately lower health care costs,” said Walter Talamonti, M.D., medical director, Ford Motor Company.
People are invited to participate in the voluntary pilot program by their primary care physician and are selected based on the complexity of their healthcare needs and their potential to benefit from the personalized care provided by the program.
The most significant part of that personalized care is a specially trained nurse care manager who works under the leadership of the patient’s primary care physician. Nurses are assigned to the same group of patients throughout the duration of the program – essentially becoming their health care coach, at no additional cost to the participants.
“We’re supporting this program because it has tremendous potential to improve the health and lives of specific members who have complex health problems and help them manage their healthcare in a much more coordinated and effective way,” said Don Hirt, director, Strategy and Initiatives, UAW RMBT.
Laura Dickerson, UAW International Representative, said that in addition to providing quality care, the ECP has promising potential to help employees more effectively utilize their benefits.
“Some people may over-utilize healthcare services because they don’t feel that they have an alternative. They may go to the Emergency Room more often than necessary, for example,” she said. “The nurse care manager helps them better understand and manage their healthcare needs.”
Nearly 1,500 people are expected to be enrolled in the ECP. The program is completely confidential and is being conducted in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network of Michigan and Health Alliance Plan, and select physicians located in southeast Michigan.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the ECP is the way that it has united so many different organizations – that don’t typically work together – toward a common goal.
“Ford, the UAW, the UAW RMBT, insurance companies, physician group and hospital systems are collaborating on a pilot that seeks to innovate in the delivery of care,” said Dr. Talamonti. “That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment and I think it will change the healthcare landscape.”
After the evaluation of the two-year pilot program is complete, Ford, the UAW and the UAW RMBT will evaluate the results and determine next steps.