Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Texas Initiating Health Passport

In April 2008, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission launched STAR Health to help children in the state’s foster care program. Like other Medicaid managed care systems, STAR Health features a network of doctors, nurses, specialists, and other healthcare professionals to provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services.

This Medicaid managed care system differs in size from other systems since the network covers the entire state. According to Deb Norris, Policy Analysts with HHSC’s Medicaid CHIP Division, because the system covers the entire state, there is consistency in caring for children who may move to different parts of the state while they are in foster care.

Central to STAR Health is the development of Health Passport, a secure web site that will be the repository for each foster child’s health record. Automated feeds will supply information from Medicaid claims for services and prescriptions as well as basic diagnostic information from providers in the STAR Health network.

Providers can also manually enter information about a child’s vital signs, allergies, Texas Health Steps exams, and behavioral health assessments. This information will create an up-to-date medical context available to any provider who treats that child in the statewide STAR Health network.

The web site will be secure with access limited primarily to physicians, Department of Family and Protective Services (DFRS) caseworkers, and each child’s “medical consenter” which is usually the foster parents. When STAR Health launches the Health Passport, the system will contain two years of medical, dental, and prescription claims for children in the foster care system that have been on CHIP or Children’s Medicaid.

Starting April 1, Medicaid claims and information entered by providers in the STAR Health network are now added to each child’s medical record. This information gives providers information on each child’s medical history and makes it easier to develop a plan of treatment.

The team developing STAR Health has added value into the program and is planning to marry Health Passport’s web-based technology with street level social work. Service management teams made up of behavioral health clinicians, nurse practitioners and community connection specialists will help avert a mental health crisis within the foster families by talking to the families and they will provide the necessary information on all the social services that are available in the community. These service management teams will enable caseworkers in the community to have the time to make certain that the family dynamics in their cases support their foster care placement.