HealthPartners, VitalSims partner to create chronic disease education programs


MINNEAPOLIS — A nonprofit healthcare education organization and a for-profit company that uses healthcare education technology to promote best practices in medicine are developing educational programs to improve chronic disease care.

The HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research and VitalSims announced a new joint venture, SimCare Health, saying that the first program, SimCare Diabetes, would seek to improve care and reduce medical costs. HealthPartners said it had spent 12 years developing the programs, using federal grant money from the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and in collaboration with the University of Minnesota.

SimCare Diabetes is designed to train pharmacists, advanced practice providers, physicians and other healthcare professionals on diagnosing and treating Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The program consists of Web-based accelerated learning simulations based on thousands of real-life patient encounters.

In helping "virtual" patients better manage their disease, providers decide when and how often to bring patients into the clinic, learn ways to use insulin more effectively and discover when other medications should be prescribed. An analysis by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the research arm of IMS Health, found that diabetics younger than 65 years and covered by private health insurance had annual healthcare expenses of about $12,000 per year, while those who did not have their disease under control could have costs of more than $100,000 per year and were at greater risk of complications from the disease. Meanwhile, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that 35% of patients with newly diagnosed diabetes were not getting the proper care.

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