Sixth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations: Peer-to-Peer Practice Advancement Sessions Participation in the NHPC and the Impact on Disparity Activities at Highmark

Special Session II Joining forces to reduce disparities: Lessons learned from the National Health Plan Collaborative

Participation in the NHPC and the Impact on Disparity Activities at Highmark
Monday, September 22, 2008: 4:15 PM-6:00 PM, Minn Marriott, 8th Floor - Spring Park Bay
Highmark has developed a proactive approach to achieve business integration of workforce diversity, health care disparities and efforts to improve Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) initiatives. 
     Highmark is one of ten health insurance plans working with public and private partners to identify ways to improve the quality of health care for racially and ethnically diverse populations through the National Health Plan Collaborative to Reduce Disparities and Improve Quality. Highmark began tracking disparities in their commercial and Medicare populations and used the data to develop, implement, and evaluate efforts to improve care and reduce health disparities.
     Highmark has undertaken several member interventions to reduce disparities, especially in diabetes care. Member education regarding language support and translation service availability was provided, and member newsletter articles were published to increase awareness about diabetes care disparities.
   Highmark worked with physicians to mail educational letters on physician letterhead with lab work order forms to members of practices with diabetes disparities. Provider newsletter articles on disparities were published, and discussion groups with practitioners from across Pennsylvania were conducted to address potential barriers to care for minority patients.
     In 2006, Highmark began collecting self-identified data on race, ethnicity, and language preference from its members via a voluntary post-enrollment survey. Members were asked to self identify race and ethnicity, their language spoken at home, language preference for communications from Highmark, and if an interpreter was needed to communicate with their health care provider. This data has been used to focus interventions on clinical areas in which disparities are shown to exist.
   In 2007, Highmark implemented clinical cultural competency training for all care and case managers and staff physicians, and for many of its customer service employees who have received preliminary diversity and inclusion training using Quality Interactions® e-based learning courses. 
 Highmark supports a number of outreach programs that address the diverse needs of the communities it serves. The goals of the community-based initiatives to address disparities are to support activities that narrow disparities in health outcomes; support programs that encourage individuals and families to participate competently in their health care and/or pursue and sustain evidence-based health promotion behaviors; and to foster stronger community and institutional collaborations that improve health and well-being. Highmark’s ongoing commitment to addressing health care disparities builds cultural awareness among our workforce and a better understanding of how cultural and diversity issues impact the health of our members, our employees, our communities and the business marketplace.
  • April 29 2008 Highmark Creates Multi-Dimensional Approach to Address HCD.pdf (94.1 kB)
  • NHPCSummaryReport2006.pdf (795.0 kB)
  • Presentation Information:

    Program: Peer-to-Peer Practice Advancement Sessions

    Rhonda Johnson, MD, MPH , Integrated Clinical Services, Highmark Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
      Medical Director
      Highmark Inc.
      Integrated Clinical Services
      120 Fifth Avenue, Suite P4105
      Pittsburgh PA, USA 15222

      Phone: 412-544-1027
      Fax: 412-544-2850
      Email Address:

      Biographical Sketch:
      Rhonda Moore Johnson, MD, MPH, is a medical director in the Integrated Clinical Services Division of Highmark. In this position, she provides clinical support to a diverse array of medical management and health related activities, including health care disparity reduction efforts at Highmark. Dr. Johnson received her A. B. degree at Harvard University, her M.D. at Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine and M.P.H. at Ohio State University. She is certified in Health Care Quality Management by the American Board of Quality Assurance & Utilization Review Physicians, Inc. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Institute for Healthcare Quality.