Backed by a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Grant, FMBHP Project Aims to
Create New Hospital Model Using Technology-Enabled After-Discharge Services

Superior,  Mont. – April 23, 2013 – Frontier Medicine Better Health Partnership (FMBHP) and Vree Health – a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. focused on technology-enabled services designed to improve the reach, cost-efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare – today announced a collaboration designed to improve care transitions and reduce hospital readmission rates for patients in rural areas. Over the coming months, FMBHP and Vree Health will develop new, improved processes for transitioning patients from hospital to home within at least 10 Montana communities that will be pilots to inform later programs.

“While transitional care is a challenge throughout the health system nationwide, rural communities like these in Montana have unique needs,” said Denyse Traeder, director of FMBHP. “We are excited to partner with the experts at Vree Health to develop new approaches to improve the transition from hospital to home in these areas.”

The FMBHP project, funded through a $10.5 million Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Grant, plans to implement TransitionAdvantage™, Vree Health’s post-discharge service, within the FMBHP-served community in an effort to improve post-hospital patient care and hospital efficiency in rural Montana. The TransitionAdvantage service is designed to help patients who were hospitalized for heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia to adhere to their hospital’s recommended post-discharge care plans, and to help hospitals and other healthcare providers identify potential health issues in these patients before those issues become urgent and potentially costly.

“Rural patients discharged from tertiary care centers often head back home, hundreds of miles away from the hospital,” said Kyle Dolbow, president of Vree Health. “TransitionAdvantage is designed to help improve patient handoff, post-discharge follow-up and medication management. Our high-touch service model helps patients improve their follow-up care and assists hospitals with reducing unnecessary readmissions.  This can help with both care and costs in communities like those served by FMBHP.”

The TransitionAdvantage technology platform integrates with a hospital’s Electronic Medical Records system to provide data accessibility and connectivity to the entire care team, including hospital staff, primary care physicians, patients and family caregivers.  Vree Health’s Transition Liaisons, serving as daily health coaches, are assigned to each patient before he or she leaves the hospital to conduct daily phone calls, log key parameters and transfer health issues to the respective healthcare provider. These Transition Liaisons, combined with 24/7 access to a nurse hotline and scalable, digital tools, offer hospitals a cost-effective way to utilize their resources and improve patient care.

FMBHP members and Vree Health will begin identifying implementation strategies immediately. By the third year of the project, FMBHP anticipates that a total of 48 critical access hospitals and rural health centers will be included in the network and eligible for TransitionAdvantage. These centers serve 100,000 beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The goal is to standardize improvement efforts and operational processes based upon best practices, resulting in better healthcare outcomes and efficiencies.

About Frontier Medicine Better Health Partnership (FMBHP)

FMBHP is a Montana-based partnership and learning collaborative working to standardize operations and efficiencies across all of the state’s hospitals, including tertiary care centers, critical access hospitals, and rural health clinics. FMBHP partners include the Mineral Regional Health Center (MRHC), Appalachian Osteopathic Postgraduate Training Institute Consortium (A-OPTIC), iVantage Health Analytics and Vree Health. To learn more, visit www.fmbhp.org.

The FMBHP project is supported by a cooperative funding agreement, Funding Opportunity Number CMS-1C1-12-0001, from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, a component of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this release are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services or any of its agencies.

About Vree Health

Vree Health, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., is dedicated to helping healthcare organizations rise above the readmissions challenges with technology-enabled services designed to improve the reach, cost-efficiency and efficacy of healthcare. Our innovative technologies and high-touch services are designed to help: coordinate care across providers; aggregate, analyze, and effectively utilize disparate data sources; and engage patients and their families in actively managing their care. Our TransitionAdvantage service offers a suite of services that merge digital technology with personal engagement for each patient, encouraging compliance with his or her prescribed care plan.  To learn more, visit www.vreehealth.com.

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.