BCBS of Massachusetts cherry picks digital health tools for new platform

As published in Healthcare Dive, April 5, 2018

By Meg Bryant

 

Dive Brief:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is launching a platform of digital health tools aimed at keeping employer workforces healthy.
  • Emerging Solutions initially will include three products: Livongo and Omada for diabetes prevention and management and Ovia Health for fertility and pregnancy coaching.
  • New digital health offerings will be added to the platform as they become available and fit customers’ needs, the company said. The service is available to self-insured accounts with 1,000 or more employees staring July 1.

Dive Insight:

Digital health had a blockbuster year in 2017, hitting $5.6 billion on about 326 deals by mid-December, according to Rock Health. By StartUp Health’s count, which uses a different methodology, funding exceeded $9 billion at the end of the third quarter. Analysts are expecting that momentum to continue in 2018.

Rock Health found that digital health funding in the first quarter of 2018 hit $1.62 billion, up from the same time period last year.

However, with so many companies and digital tools out there, it can be hard for providers, health plans and consumers to sift through and find ones that work for their needs. Some have a better track record than others, and the differences aren't always easily identifiable.

With the move to value-based care and emphasis on population health, there will likely be more payers targeting digital solutions to their customer base. Solutions focused on issues such as chronic diseases, obesity, frail elders and behavioral health can help to prevent problems from spiraling into more acute medical conditions and reduce the need for costly interventions.

Funding in the space is still hot, but as the BCBS announcement shows, the digital IT space is beginning to mature with “winners” becoming a bit more apparent for specific purposes like chronic care, weight management and pregnancy.

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Jordan Lipson