Newsroom | 25 February 2014

PremierCare Northwest and Cigna Form Accountable Care Program in Arkansas to Improve Health and Lower Costs


Michelle Vroom
Northwest Health System
Pat Driscoll

  • Consumers benefit from improved care coordination and greater emphasis on preventive care
  • Primary care doctors are rewarded for improving patient health and lowering medical costs
  • Program includes registered nurse care coordinators aligned with Cigna case managers

SPRINGDALE, Ark. & BLOOMFIELD, Conn., February 25, 2014 - Cigna (NYSE:CI) and Northwest Health System/PremierCare Northwest, the largest provider-owned network in Arkansas, have launched a collaborative accountable care initiative to improve patient access to health care, enhance care coordination and achieve the "triple aim" of improved health, affordability and patient experience. The program became effective January 1, 2014 and is Cigna's first collaborative accountable care initiative to launch in Arkansas.

Collaborative accountable care is Cigna's approach to accomplishing the same population health goals as accountable care organizations, or ACOs. The program will benefit the nearly 5,000 individuals covered by a Cigna health plan who receive care from PremierCare's 117 primary care doctors and more than 30 specialists.

"I'm excited that we have been able to team with Cigna to bring a unique and forward-looking program to the marketplace. The collaborative accountable care program will provide our patients with a level of hands-on care, service, quality and savings not seen before in Arkansas," said Michael Kaufman, vice president of business development for Northwest Health System. "This is truly a new model that I feel will soon become the norm. I'm proud to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative and am even happier that the communities of Northwest Arkansas are the first in the state to experience the benefits."

"This is our first collaborative accountable care program in Arkansas and we look forward to working with PremierCare to implement a health care model that rewards physicians for quality of care, rather than volume of services," said Renee McLaughlin, M.D., Cigna's senior medical director for Arkansas. "This model benefits both patients and local employers, who can enjoy better care and lower medical costs through these efforts."

Under the program, PremierCare will monitor and coordinate all aspects of an individual's medical care. Patients will continue to be treated by their current physician and automatically receive the benefits of the program. Individuals who are enrolled in a Cigna health plan and later choose to seek care from a doctor in the medical group will also have access to the benefits of the program. There are no changes in any plan requirements regarding referrals to specialists. Patients most likely to see the immediate benefits of the program are those who need help managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Critical to the program's success are registered nurses, employed by PremierCare, who will serve as clinical care coordinators and help patients with chronic conditions or other health challenges navigate the health care system. The care coordinators are aligned with a team of Cigna case managers to ensure a high degree of collaboration between the medical group and Cigna, which will ultimately provide a better experience for the individual.

The care coordinators will enhance care by using patient-specific data from Cigna to help identify patients being discharged from the hospital who might be at risk for readmission, as well as patients who may be overdue for important health screenings or who may have skipped a prescription refill. The care coordinators are part of the physician-led care team that will help patients get the follow-up care or screenings they need, identify potential complications related to medications and help prevent chronic conditions from worsening.

Care coordinators can also help patients schedule appointments, provide health education and refer patients to Cigna's clinical support programs, such as disease management programs for diabetes, heart disease and other conditions; and lifestyle management programs, such as programs for tobacco cessation, weight management and stress management.

Cigna will compensate PremierCare Northwest for the medical and care coordination services it provides. Additionally, PremierCare may be rewarded through a "pay for value" structure if it meets or surpasses targets for improving quality and lowering medical costs.

The principles of the patient-centered medical home are the foundation of Cigna's collaborative accountable care initiatives. Cigna then builds on that foundation with a strong focus on collaboration and communication with physician practices. Cigna has 86 collaborative accountable care initiatives in 27 states, encompassing more than 880,000 commercial customers and more than 35,000 doctors, including more than 16,000 primary care physicians and more than 19,000 specialists. Cigna launched its first collaborative accountable care program in 2008 and will reach its goal to have 100 of them in place with one million customers in 2014.

Collaborative accountable care is one component of the company's approach to physician engagement for health improvement, which also includes the innovative Cigna-HealthSpringSM care model for Medicare customers. Today, well over one million Cigna and Cigna-HealthSpring customers benefit from more than 250 engaged physician relationships across 31 states, with more than 62,000 doctors participating, including more than 22,000 primary care physicians and more than 40,000 specialists.

About Northwest Health System/PremierCare Northwest

Northwest Health System/PremierCare Northwest and affiliated facilities is Arkansas' largest hospital system, owned by Community Health Systems of Franklin, TN (CHS). Northwest Health System encompasses hospitals around the state of Arkansas and via the PremierCare Network and is affiliated with 1000+ physicians delivering employers and their employees innovative healthcare options designed to produce quality, service and increased maximum value for the healthcare dollars spent.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 80 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit