Premera Blue Cross will be using technology from Healthways Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. to try to speed members with health problems into disease management programs.

Healthways, Nashville, Tenn., will use prescriptions claim data from Medco, Franklin Lakes, N.J., to help Premera disease managers identify members who could benefit from the company’s disease management programs as early as possible, according to Premera, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.

Premera is hoping the program will cut the average time needed to reach out to disease management candidates to less than 14 days, from 120 days today.

Healthways has estimated that members spend an average of 44% more per month on health care during the first 90 days after diagnosis of a serious condition than they do later on, Premera says.

If that analysis is correct, then reaching out to members with health problems early might improve the quality of their care and reduce overall care costs, Premera says.

In other benefits alliance news, Sharp Health Plan, San Diego, has agreed to use global emergency assistance services for plan members from Assist America Inc., Princeton, N.J.