Verizon, MIT startup partner with research firm in mHealth venture

Dive Brief:

  • mHealth vendors are diving into one of the costliest and most complex areas for state Medicaid programs: behavioral health. Mobile giant Verizon has partnered with MIT-startup and vendor and the Centerstone Research Institute on the product coactionHealth.
  • The program will focus on patients with co-occurring mental health needs like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and physical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The goal is to provide consistent mobile support to patients via surveys, wellness coaches, a care team and health data tracking apps.
  • During a three-month pilot project earlier this year, coactionHealth reported results that included fewer hospitalizations and improvement in things like personal care, nutrition and living environments by 55%. The program was able to consistently track participants' physical and mental wellness and get that data quickly to providers for needed interventions.

Dive Insight:

Mental health conditions account for a large part of Medicaid spending. According to a February issue brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Three of the five most prevalent, costly disease conditions paid for by Medicaid are diseases paired with psychiatric illnesses. The most common pairing is cardiovascular disease and psychiatric illness, which can be found in 40% of its top-spending group. The payer is easily the largest individual funder of public mental health services.

Providers are beginning to have a greater understanding that mobile health is a viable option for behavioral health treatment. Meaningful use doesn't cover behavioral health technology, but Congress has considered in the past couple of years the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, which would change that.

At this year's National Council for Behavioral Health conference in May, National Council president and CEO Linda Rosenberg highlighted the confluence of technology and mental healthcare, saying it would need to be "a story in which technology meets humanity, a story in which we think like a scientist but act like a humanist."

Filed Under: Health IT Payer Finance