Anthem Collaborates with Digital Therapy for Virtual COVID Treatment

Anthem is partnering with a digital therapy startup to launch a COVID-19 patient care program.

The insurance company, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, has partnered with game developer Sidekick Health to create COVID Concierge Care, an app that offers members daily symptom and outcome tracking and on-demand messaging with a care manager. as well as articles, videos, and other educational information to help applicants better manage their COVID symptoms.

“Tens of thousands” of Anthem Medicare Advantage members in New York and Connecticut will initially have access to the app, although the insurance company expects a few hundred to actually take advantage of the pilot, said Dr. Eugene Hsu, regional vice president of the Retirement Solutions Group. for Medicare. Over the next few months, the insurer will measure the effectiveness of the pilot by engaging Medicare Advantage patients, helping them navigate the healthcare system, and working with the insurer’s clinical case managers.

“Our members are still suffering from COVID symptoms — sometimes months after their active infection clears up,” Xu said. “They are worried, they are confused, they are overwhelmed. They have trouble navigating the healthcare system. So we really wanted this digital one-stop shop to have tools for them to help them with real people on the backend. helping them.”

After participants download the app, they are asked to indicate their symptoms and severity. The app then personalizes the treatment plan based on their condition and uses Sidekick gamification and AI systems to help patients stick to the program. Along with digital tools, Anthem members can message nurses through the app at any time to help them navigate the healthcare system, Hsu says, which we hope will help avoid costly emergency room visits.

“Our members who are suffering from long-term COVID are likely to, for example, use more emergency care (and) be pushed back into the system, resulting in a really bad experience,” Xu said. “In the long term, our main focus is on this most vulnerable group.”

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation estimates that about 22.6 million Americans are currently battling long-term COVID, according to a model that suggests 30% of coronavirus survivors have persistent symptoms. Long-term COVID-related conditions will cost insurers $22 billion this year, according to Moody’s Investors Service, accounting for 4% of all medical expenses.

Anthem hopes that the care management skills Medicare Advantage members learn from the app will help them cope with chronic COVID illnesses.

Over the past year, the insurance company has been working with Sidekick Health to create similar digital programs for members with cancer and Crohn’s disease.

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