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A New Idea in Health Care Partnering

The center will be an extension of the physician's efforts to improve enrollees' health status , so that people aren't just left to their own devices.

October 1, 1992
Related Topics: Financial Impact, Health and Wellness
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In June of 1991, John Deere Health Care, Inc. announced that it was developing an onsite, primary-care health center in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic has assisted Deere in designing and setting up the center, and a Mayo employee will be the center's new administrator.

The purpose of the center—which will be located half a mile down John Deere Road from the headquarters building in Moline, Illinois—is to provide another health care option to Deere employees, dependents and retirees in the Quad Cities area. When the center opens this December, Deere-covered insureds will still have the two existing health care plan choices: Deere's own Heritage plan and an indemnity plan. But they also will be able to choose a new HMO plan: the John Deere Family Health Plan. Approximately 15,000 enrollees are expected to sign up for this option when the center opens.

The 25,000 square foot John Deere Health Care Center will be staffed by eight Deere-employed doctors, and a support staff, who will provide HMO services, such as lab services, prescriptions, minor surgical procedures and physical therapy. It even will house a lifestyle and fitness center. "The center will be an extension of the physician's efforts to improve enrollees' health status, so that people aren't just left to their own devices," says Richard Van Bell, president of John Deere Health Care Inc., the business unit under which the Heritage and Family Health plan operate. The center will offer lifestyle classes on such topics as weight loss and stress management.

In this new primary care center, Van Bell says that Deere will be able to zero in on certain illnesses, an outcomes-measurements program, which he calls "disease management. " It's a process of looking at high-cost diseases, in both the Deere and the Heritage populations, to ensure that patients receive consistent treatment on the continuum of quality care. The four diagnoses that will be in the spotlight initially include low back pain, alimentary tract infections, depression and cardiopulmonary problems. Some typical questions will be:

  • Is the patient being treated in the setting that's most appropriate for him or her?
  • Does the patient have a proper say in making sure he or she is cared for in a high-quality way?
  • What's the best practice pattern for this disease?
  • How has the patient been managed through the system?

Asking these questions also will help Deere track costs of individual illnesses better. "We will then use that as a benchmark indicating how care is delivered outside the health center as we look at the Heritage plan. It gives us a tremendous tool to enhance the quality of care," says Van Bell.

The UAW has been a strategic partner in guiding the development of the primary health care center and has supported it since it was announced last June. Van Bell says that the UAW has been an important player in Deere's ongoing effort to control health care costs.

"This is a new activity for the UAW in working to develop a primary care center with an employer and a major medical organization such as the Mayo clinic," Van Bell says, and adds that he isn't aware of any other employers with whom the UAW has worked to develop a health care strategy. "They have been very involved and extremely supportive of what we're doing," he says. He also notes that this also is the first such health center of which he's aware, that was developed by an employer in conjunction with a third-party hospital.

Personnel Journal, October 1992, Vol. 71, No. 10, p. 87.

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