Ingenuity in a crisis
The 36 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies invest in emerging health care companies through the Blue Venture Fund, which seeks to spark innovation in health care and scale up promising models to benefit patients. As the coronavirus outbreak took hold, these companies stepped forward to offer tangible solutions to new problems brought about by the pandemic.
Here are some examples:
Wider Circle – Loneliness and isolation has been shown to impact physical and mental health. In fact, one study found the effects of loneliness are on par with smoking about 15 cigarettes per day. When the coronavirus crisis began and stay-at-home orders were put in place, Wider Circle – already working to address social isolation among the elderly and vulnerable populations – knew its no-cost services would be needed by more people, more than ever.
The company quickly extended its neighborhood care and support network into a full COVID response program for vulnerable populations. It took on both physical safety and social support needs heightened by the pandemic by offering emergency food delivery, COVID-19 peer-to-peer health check-ins, telehealth training, virtual “meet ups” and social calls. In the initial months the program has delivered over 80,000 meals, conducted 75,000 health check-ins and hosted more than 30,000 social support calls – all of which have helped to stem the rampant anxiety and depression caused by the pandemic.
Contessa Home Recovery – In early March, hospital systems in New York braced for an influx of highly contagious COVID-19 patients needing admittance to hospitals and intensive care units, while continuing to treat patients with symptoms stemming from acute illnesses such as asthma, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. In a matter of days, Contessa adapted its model that provides hospital-level care at home to move non-COVID patients out of the hospital for the remainder of their care, freeing up much-needed bed space and resources. After initially moving non-COVID patients home, Contessa further evolved its approach to include home care for stabilized coronavirus patients, further alleviating capacity issues.
Hear from Travis Messina, Contessa CEO on the company’s approach to easing the capacity crunch.
Lumiata – At the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, the company was uniquely positioned to help address challenges by predicting COVID-19 incidence by region, forecasting the spread within a specific community, predicting health care resources needed, along with hospitalization and ICU admission and readmission rates. Lumiata has over 100 health care-specific, pre-trained, machined-learned models powered by their AI Platform, which uses data from patient medical records, insurance claims, medical billing codes, lab results and even doctors’ notes. Most recently, Lumiata has been granted access to the COVID-19 Research Database, a cross-industry, public-private resource that enables public health and policy researchers to use real-world data to better understand and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The company will now include this dataset in its platform so payers and providers can benefit from increased model accuracy in the midst of the fast-moving pandemic.
Lumiata also supports the use of telemedicine by using its data on patient and population health to provide insights into at-risk and chronic care populations that many primary care physicians are now treating through virtual care.
Wellframe – Through digital health management solutions for care management, advocacy and navigation, Wellframe amplifies the ability of health plans to provide remote assistance and monitoring of people managing multiple chronic conditions, the same population most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19. Recently, Wellframe completed a survey of over 850 patients with chronic conditions that revealed more than half (57 percent) of respondents have delayed receiving health care services due to the pandemic. Because virtual health support can help combat these challenges, Wellframe is using AI to help care teams understand the needs of the most vulnerable in real time and at scale, so they can provide the best possible health guidance. Wellframe also helps health insurers support and educate their members during the outbreak with a mobile-friendly resource that offers information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health.