Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia, says it has achieved significant costs savings from a new chronic disease management program.

IBC says its Connections health management program provides professional advice to help members manage the 5 most common chronic illnesses. Its own evaluation claims medical cost savings of 1.5% to 2% for treatment of diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

Over 235,000 IBC members have at least 1 of the 5 illnesses, and 98% of them participate in the Connections program, the company says.

Connections provides members with educational materials, health reminders and access to information about their conditions. They also have access to a health coach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The coaches, which include nurses, dieticians and respiratory therapists, help members understand their conditions and consider their options, so they can have more useful discussions with their physicians, according to the company.

Other improvements claimed by IBC include a 12% decrease in expected inpatient days for patients with the most common chronic conditions.