Christina Krause may be one of the secret ingredients to the success enjoyed by Benefit Performance Associates (BPA) and the Integrated Health Advocacy Program® (IHAP®) medical advocacy teams by examining the data of more than 1,200 patients, or participants, over the years.
But you won’t hear her say that. The soft-spoken Krause gently defers any praise, usually from other BPA associates or managing partner Maria Kuhn, who speak in glowing terms of Krause’s contributions.
It was Krause who developed the bio-metrics, the measuring tool medical advocacy team members use to determine if a participants have improved their level of physical and psychological functioning; increased their frequency to prepare questions for their primary physicians; gained confidence in being able to manage health conditions; or increased their health status ratings. The bio-metrics are also used to analyze whether a participant is depressed or anxious, and if he or she has a social group to provide support.
Krause says that success in IHAP is related to how a team and participant build a connection and collaborate.
“A lot of the participants don’t visit often with friends or may not have any friends or much support at home,” she says. “So, the IHAP team starts out offering social support to them. They sit. They listen. They care.”
Krause earned a PhD from Northern Illinois University in both experimental and developmental psychology.
“I was in grad school when Maria approached me because she knew I was interested in research,” she says. “I was doing research at Northern Illinois and she asked me to create the bio-metrics for the program. I was delighted to help with the health intervention process. I believe that individuals with multiple chronic conditions feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and need an integrated multidisciplinary team to help them.
"The program actually reduces costs for the individuals because they have a support team who checks on them," Krause explains. They feel better. It also helps make them better employees who can focus on work because their depression and anxiety have been reduced."
She loves to hear the story of participants who feel better.
"I send the participants a personal letter from me asking them to rate their experience before and with IHAP," she says. The participants report being more satisfied with the amount of help that they receive with IHAP; that the services they are receiving with IHAP are more effective with their problems; and rate the quality of service they are receiving from the team as excellent. They also often send notes about their experience with their advocate team, how grateful they are for the opportunity to participate in the IHAP program and how the team has helped them.
Krause is proud to be part of the program. Her research findings indicate the participants feel better as they work through their Transition Plan goals and increase both their level of self-efficacy and personal control.
"The trained advocates are motivators and counselors," Krause says. "For example, an advocate will ask a participant what's getting in the way of their progress, what's the best time to exercise, or similar questions to get a participant back on his or her goals. If they talk about what they can't do, an advocate will say, 'How about you do half the usual today?' All of our trained advocates are outstanding, caring professionals who make a difference."
Krause has also written many peer-reviewed, published articles regarding the effects of the IHAP program. She reports being very surprised and pleased when Nova asked her to publish a book on the disease management program; however, she decided to instead write an article for their new book on healthcare, which has been published. She also prepares materials, including the content of slides and handouts, and has presented data at numerous conferences with colleagues and advocates of BPA.