URAC Announces Organizational Realignment in Keeping with Assurance of Quality for Consumer-focused Care Management

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New structure will facilitate strategic product development, enhance sharing of best practices among accredited companies.

In response to an increasingly more consumer-focused health management arena, URAC announced an organizational realignment today designed to strengthen the organization’s focus on product development and its emphasis on client services through accreditation programs.

URAC, established in 1990, is the independent, nonprofit leader in promoting health care quality through its 15 accreditation and certification programs.

“The value of URAC accreditation and the scope of our programs and services have been one of the best-kept secrets in health care,” said Alan Spielman, who came on board as URAC’s president and CEO in October 2005. “This realignment underscores URAC’s expanding focus on how to further protect and empower consumers in an increasingly more consumer-driven health care benefits and management environment.”

The organization’s externally-focused activities will now be structured under two broad groups. The first group is Client Services, led by Annette Watson, RN, CCM, MBA, as vice president and general manager and chief accreditation officer. Watson previously served as URAC vice president of business development. The group will focus on customer support and ongoing account management, responsible for creating a true “end-to-end” experience with a single client service point of contact from the moment a new client comes on board through the final accreditation decision. Client Services will also interact with clients during desktop and on-site review of accreditation applications and help organizations to share best practices. Watson will also be responsible for the management and clinical oversight of accreditation reviewers, and the interface with stakeholder-based accreditation committees.

“Prior to coming to URAC Annette had 15 years of executive and line management experience in care management. She came to URAC from her position as chief operating officer at Alicare Medical Management and started her managed care career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire,” Spielman said. “She knows first-hand what clients experience when applying for accreditation and can appreciate the quality, service and value-added best practices we can provide. She’s also a clinician, and brings to the position a long background in accreditation, including service as the chair of URAC’s clinical standards committee prior to joining URAC in an executive role.”

URAC’s second broad new group, Strategic Marketing and Product Development, will be led by Debra L. Friedman, MBA, as senior vice president. Friedman comes to URAC with more than 20 years’ experience in health care marketing, most recently as executive director of sales, marketing and actuarial services for the BlueCross BlueShield Association. She also served as managing director, mid-Atlantic region of Kaiser Permanente Health Plan, leading market segment strategy and responsible for product development. Prior to that, Friedman was vice president of marketing for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, National Capital Area, leading its marketing, product development, marketing research, communication, and merger/transition planning areas.

“Debra’s strong background in product development and marketing will support our need to respond effectively to changes in the marketplace and to further educate key stakeholders on the value of URAC accreditation,” Spielman said. “She is positioned well to work effectively with HMOs, PPOs and care management companies to meet service needs and to provide consumers with the kind of information they need to navigate in this new environment.”

Spielman said the changes will build the foundation for URAC to further promote consumer empowerment and protection through its research activities and product development. The realignment supports key priorities for 2006, including a new emphasis on building URAC as a recognized seal of quality among consumers for health web sites, health plans and other care management organizations, to improve the accreditation experience and re-engineer product and service development to align with market needs.

“One of our key priorities is to serve as a focal point for information and programs that improve the quality of care management and empower consumers to become effective health care decision-makers,” Spielman said. “We are building an inventory of information and other value-added data that consumers, policymakers and purchasers can use to further help them in this space. We are also working with our accredited companies to provide consumers easier access to accreditation-related information through URAC Web portals on accredited companies’ sites.”

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation and certification programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit http://www.urac.org

Contact: Karla Hurter

Phone: (703)319-0957

khurter @ health2resources.com

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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