Research partnership between IBC and Penn Medicine

Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine will collaborate on beeping pill-bottle study.
Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine will collaborate on beeping pill-bottle study.
Posted: June 28, 2013

Can beeping pill bottles help heart-attack survivors remember to take their medicines?

That's one of the studies being undertaken in a research partnership announced Wednesday between Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine.

The research collaboration requires a heavy dose of information technology, said Somesh Nigam, senior vice president and chief informatics officer at IBC.

"Almost all of them require data from multiple sources," Nigam said. "Most importantly they require a 360 view of our members, our patients."

In two studies, for example, one analyzing the impact of stroke centers as it regards patient recovery and another on complications from arthroscopic surgery on knees, "you want to be able to track that member before, during, and after the hospitalization to see what the complication rates are," Nigam said.

To do that, IBC needs to tap its vast databases because only IBC knows when and where its members are hospitalized.

"Every event that leads to payment is in our database," Nigam said.

The pill-bottle experiment is important because heart-attack survivors who don't take their medicines as directed are at a high risk for a second attack.

The cap - called GlowCap - glows and makes musical sounds to remind patients to take their medicine, Nigam explained.

"You can program it so that after a certain number of misses there can be a signal given to a care manager," he said. "That care manager can then call the patient back and try to find out what's going on."

Overseeing several of the research projects for Penn is Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics.


Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651

or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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