IGG Partners with BCBS-IL to Focus on Crohn's Patients


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) recently announced the first specialty intensive medical home (IMH) program in the state, with the Illinois Gastroenterology Group (IGG), the state’s largest independent gastroenterology practice, effective September 1, 2014.

IMHs focus on improving patient access, care coordination and illness management, especially among those individuals needing treatment for chronic illnesses. In the BCBSIL/IGG Specialty IMH, these are the highest risk, multi-chronic patients with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes a high incidence of complications.

IGG has already developed a care management tool, Project Sonar, to enhance communications with their IMH patients with Crohn’s Disease.  “Studies have shown that the rate of these complications decreases with improved patient communication,” says IGG physician Lawrence Kosinski, MD, MBA. 

In this project we are using our Secure Patient Portal and Smartphone Technology to create a ‘Sonar System’ which communicates with our patients in an effort to assess how well they are doing in between their face to face visits.  The Portal is secure, safe and HIPAA compliant.

Patients enrolled in Project Sonar will receive monthly secure communications which will include a set of selected questions designed to tell staff how the patients are doing. The answers to the questions produce a “Sonar Score”, a numerical value which correlates with symptom intensity.  The slope of this score is then plotted over time to reveal trends.  This monitoring can lead to intervention by the physician earlier than a patient might initiate it, which in turn should lead to a decrease in emergency room visits, hospitalization rates and their associated complications.

In Project Sonar, a nurse care manager (NCM) does initial outreach to BCBSIL insured patients identified as the most critically-ill. The patients will receive a call, letter or email inviting them to enroll in the program at no cost.  At an initial intake visit with the patient, the NCM does an assessment and develops an action plan.   The NCM will monitor the patient’s progress against the action plan, assist with care coordination and offer resources. The NCM ensures care is connected to the physician.

IGG is regionally expanding and now covers most of the Chicagoland Metropolitan Area with physicians practicing at 13 Hospitals, 6 Accredited/Licensed Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) and 12 Offices.