Our Latest Program to Make Health Care Better

Blood Pressure Cuff

More than 10,000 Vermonters are getting better health care under a pilot program, Vermont Blue Integrated Care.

More than 10,000 Vermonters are getting better health care, under a pilot program we’re running in partnership with four Vermont primary care practices. The program is called Vermont Blue Integrated Care (VBIC) and was designed to address some of the challenges primary care doctors are experiencing every day. The program has been kicked off across the state to help make the biggest difference for Vermonters. The participating practices are:

  • Evergreen Family Health, Williston
  • Thomas Chittenden Health Center, Williston
  • Little Rivers Health Care, Bradford
  • White River Family Practice, White River Junction

“VBIC is a unique partnership between Blue Cross and providers,” says Grace Gilbert-Davis, our corporate director of healthcare reform. “Together we are committed to improving the quality of life for our members—minimizing complex care demands on primary care providers and reducing the cost of care in Vermont’s healthcare system.”

This project builds on successes we’ve had working with Vermont providers over the last 10 years, both through Vermont Collaborative Care, our partnership with the Brattleboro Retreat that develops pilots with mental health clinicians around the state, and on the medical side through support of innovative programs like the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program. 

Reducing Administrative Burden

By involving providers in project development and implementation, we have reduced administrative burden, while ensuring both providers and patients are satisfied.

The success of this program is driven by:

  • Allowing patients with Type 2 diabetes who meet eligibility criteria use of a free continuous glucose monitor for six months.
  • Giving patients with high blood pressure a blood pressure cuff.
  • Providing members between the ages of 45 and 74 who are at average risk for colorectal cancer with a fecal immunochemical test, a non-invasive at-home screening test for colorectal cancer.
  • Asking patients five simple questions to determine how confident they are in managing their health.
  • Working closely with the practices’ case management staff to increase collaboration and eliminate duplication of effort.
  • Enhancing collaboration between patients’ primary care provider and a consulting psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner to review patients’ mental health status and monitor their treatment plans.
  • Ensuring providers receive enhanced data about their patients, so they have greater insight into the care their patients have received, including care provided outside of their primary care practice.

Our VBIC team meets monthly with representatives of the four participating practices to discuss progress, review reports, and decide what steps to take in the weeks ahead. In addition, our Chief Medical Officer Tom Weigel, MD, meets quarterly with physicians and other clinicians from the practices.

Encouraging Preliminary Results

Preliminary results from the pilot project are very encouraging, says Gilbert-Davis. For example, she cites Evergreen Family Health’s innovative use of continuous glucose monitors, which automatically display a patient’s blood sugar level in real time. Seeing this information helps patients make informed decisions throughout the day to better control their diabetes. 

“In just six months of use, nearly all of Evergreen’s eligible patients experienced a one point or greater reduction in their A1C scores,” she says. The data has proven that when patients understand the impact that food choices make on their glucose levels in real time, they make lifestyle changes that can result in reducing the need for insulin dependency in the future.

The pilot program’s impact will become clearer as more data is gathered, Gilbert-Davis says. “If Evergreen’s early findings are a barometer of future success, VBIC’s role in the health and wellbeing of Vermonters will take on greater significance in the years ahead,” she says. 

The program will run through the end of the year and then we’ll evaluate it in early 2024.