By Justin Udo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross have announced a new cooperative agreement, allowing the two Philadelphia health care operatives to work together on health research issues.

Somesh Nigam, senior vice president and chief informatics officer at Independence Blue Cross, says the partnership with Penn Medicine on emerging health care issues was an easy decision.

“We felt it would be much better to actually have a comprehensive research agreement,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “Within that umbrella we can actually collaborate a lot more effectively.”

Nigam says they have an array of projects they plan to work on together.  For instance, he says, “a peer mentoring process where you match up two diabetics, one who has been able to manage their disease well with another who perhaps is a new diabetic or is having difficulty managing their disease, by just pairing them and giving them some simple tools to communicate.”

The organizations have already started collaborating on other new projects, such as one that helps people manage their medication schedules (top photo).

“It looks just like a regular medication bottle,” Nigam says, “but you are able to get both an audio and visual signal — sort of like an alarm and flashing light — when your medication is due.”

He says Penn and Independence Blue Cross will also be working with the City of Philadelphia on improving outcomes for stroke victims.

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