Intel’s Corrie Zenzola Talks About Joining Forces with Leapfrog

Digital HealthCare & Productivity | Large employers can play a role in driving systemic change in the way health care is delivered, says Corrie Zenzola, global benefits thought leader at Intel. Zenzola has been on the forefront of the chip manufacturer’s benefit design and strategy, including offering consumer-driven health plans. As part of her health quality initiatives, Zenzola has worked with The Leapfrog Group, a national coalition of major health care purchasers. Among other initiatives, Leapfrog works with its employer members to encourage transparency and easy access to health care information as well as rewards for hospitals that have a proven record of high quality care. Digital HealthCare & Productivity spoke with Zenzola recently about what it’s like to have Leapfrog in a health care purchaser’s toolbox:

DHP: Why did you take the initiative for Intel to join Leapfrog?

ZENZOLA: In my role, I’m always looking for strategic ways to implement programs to help us contain costs. We focus on health initiatives in the U.S. -- things that drive transparency so employees can get information that enables them to make decisions about their own health care. Since Intel offers health plans in the consumer driven arena, our employees are taking on more responsibilities. If they’re going to possibly pay more than they’re used to under a co-payment model, they need tools and resources to help them understand, “Am I getting good quality when I go to the hospital for a particular procedure? Am I seeing a doctor who is rated well in terms of how he provides service?” Leapfrog is focused on hospital quality and safety, and we’ve worked with our health plans to incorporate the Leapfrog principles and information and to make that information available to consumers.

DHP: What impact do you think that Leapfrog has had on health care?

ZENZOLA: What they’ve done is brought to the forefront key things that hospitals can focus on. If you implement certain processes, there are numbers of lives saved or number of errors avoided. If you put in a Computer Physician Order Entry system, this enables you to know what’s happening to a person throughout the entire system. Certain hospitals, in their ICU, use trained specialists (intensivists) to take care of really sick patients so they get better care while they’re in the hospital. Evidence-based hospital referrals show how well hospitals perform high-risk procedures and care for neonatal conditions. And Leapfrog Safe Practices Score show how well hospitals progress on practices endorsed by the National Quality Forum, such as policies to vaccinate employees against the flu.

DHP: You helped lead the Leapfrog regional rollout effort in Portland in 2005. What are some of the highlights of this effort?

ZENZOLA: We used various strategies designed to engage multiple stakeholders to work toward Leapfrog’s purchasing principles, which include informing and educating employees, using comparative provider rating, and using incentives and rewards to help drive the market toward improved health care quality and value. Leapfrog members encourage hospitals to meet recommended quality and safety practices, or “leaps” and increase the number of employees who chose hospitals that have implemented these leaps. We coordinated with the Oregon Coalition of Healthcare Purchasers for high efficiency and cost-effective health care for employees through support, education, tools, shared initiatives, and advocacy.

DHP: You were involved with the Silicon Valley Pay-for-Performance Consortium, a collaborative effort started by Intel, Cisco, and Oracle, along with several large California physician organizations to accelerate the use of technology for quality health care. This P4P initiative was organized by a group of employers rather than health care plans. How did it make this project different, if at all?

ZENZOLA: We were all IT companies based in the Silicon Valley area and came together to work with a number of medical groups. We talked with them about the things that were important to us in the use of IT and heard from them what was important in being able to deliver that. Now we’re working on our second-year measurements that help raise the bar in the use of IT, such as online appointment scheduling, ePrescribing, anyway that physician offices can use IT to better care and manage patients. It’s been a collaborative effort from the beginning.

DHP: What’s on the horizon for Leapfrog?

ZENZOLA: Leapfrog and its members are doing a lot of work to try and incorporate more efficiency information as they head into 2008, and streamlining the survey. What we’ve all learned from any efforts regarding quality indicatives is that things need to be tweaked as we go along and as we learn what the impact is from the process. For example, with the hospitals that need to participate and fill out survey -- are there ways we can make it easier for them so they don’t have to reenter data? They have a lot of other people tapping in for information so wherever this can be streamlined, it would be helpful.

DHP: How would you further expand Leapfrog initiatives or programs to better serve your company?

ZENZOLA: We launched a process earlier this year to do year-round communication with our employees. This is one of the items we plan for 2008, to let employees know what’s out there, how they can use Leapfrog and any other quality information available in the decisions that they make, not just as they chose a plan during our annual enrollment, but also as they make health care decisions throughout the year.

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