Disease Management Evaluation – Care Scientific

My former boss, Brenda Motheral, from Express Scripts spent a year at Healthways running their research group and has now decided to go out and do some consulting (new company is Care Scientific).  Her evaluation of the Disease Management industry was just published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.  It is a pretty critical view of the state of the industry.  Here are a few highlights:

  • There have been several articles published questioning the value of these programs this year.
  • There are five reasons for dissatisfaction:
    • Desire for better alignment of vendor and client interests
    • Desire for greater transparency in business arrangements
    • Desire for improved plausibility in reports of financial and clinical outcomes
    • Desire for more rigorous evaluation methodology
    • Desire for more convincing evidence of outcomes improvement
  • There is misalignment today…For example, if I get paid per member, how hard should I try to contact them when all that will do is drive up my costs.
  • Lack of alignment can be addressed through contractual requirements and pay per engagement.
  • There is a lack of data available on how many members are contacted.  [Not for companies that use Silverlink for their automated outreach who have real-time data available with detailed call information.]
  • There are calculation questions in comparing vendors.  [Something I have talked about several times here.]
  • She compares the move to transparency in this industry to what happened to the PBM industry earlier this decade which created new competition and changed several business models.
  • She advocates for really looking critically at the ROIs claimed by these vendors and talks about NND (number needed to decrease) which is the model that the DMAA (Disease Management Association of America) adopted as part of their outcomes guidelines.
  • She also raises concern about DM companies moving into wellness which is another area “fraught with numerous new methodological issues that warrant close attention”.
  • She talks about an industry push (from buyers) to demand new expectations from vendors.
  • She talks about the fact that the focus on ROI may not make sense since “literature suggests that less than 20% of treatments for existing conditions are cost-saving.”

“Plan sponsors also bear responsibility for the current situation.  As long as they demand a short-term ROI in the current model and inconsistently require comparison groups, they are more likely to promote methodological creativity than they are to inspire true innovation.”

As with the dozens of publications she has had over the years, this one is well written with a well referenced set of facts.  She presents a challenge to the industry in how to approach.

The challenges are interesting to reflect on given the overall industry focus on improving healthy behavior, being more proactive, more actively managing patients, and other activities that a DM company should be well positioned to do.  But, a high touch model is certainly challenged given lower cost options.  Creative solutions that leverage technology to identify gaps in care, create data segments, personalize interactions based on preferences, and use motivational interviewing to drive behavior exist and should be able to create value.  It will be an interesting 12-18 months for the industry.


  1. A Few Corporate Wellness Tips | Enabling Healthy Decisions - February 17, 2014

    […] His writing reminds me of some of the things my former boss pointed out several years ago about the disease management industry. […]

  2. CareScientific: MythBusters « Patient Centric Healthcare - May 16, 2009

    […] and Steve Melnick) have formed a new company called CareScientific.  This is a follow-up to Brenda’s paper a few months ago on Disease Management.  You can now go to their site and see more about what they are […]

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