- Health and patient engagement startup Sharecare said this week it is partnering with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to offer its personalized wellness platform to commercial customers beginning next year.
- Under the agreement, Sharecare will form the basis for Blue Cross’ digital health management offerings within the payer’s health and wellbeing platform, which encourages people to participate in their health and can be customized to the needs of a specific workforce.
- The deal comes less than a week after Sharecare announced a strategic partnership to bring its wellness platform to Walmart employees and their families.
With the continuing move to value-based care, insurers are looking for new ways to lower costs while growing customer loyalty. Part of the premise of value-based care is that patients will take a more active role in improving and maintaining their health, thereby reducing spending on preventable or controllable health conditions.
Patient engagement is a hot topic, and Sharecare has forged its platform on the tide of digital health investment. During the first half of 2017, the company was one of seven startups to raise more than $100 million in funding, according to Rock Health. The company’s platform includes health risk assessment tool RealAge, symptom checker AskMD and targeted messaging to prompt healthy habits.
Starting in 2019, Blue Cross customers will be able to access additional options using Sharecare, such as customized rewards programs, wellness challenges and health screening options.
Meanwhile, Sharecare’s collaboration with Walmart could be a much bigger deal for the Atlanta-based firm.
Walmart has made healthcare a major priority and has done a lot in terms of contracting with providers. For example, the company has a Center of Excellence Network that aims to reduce unnecessary spinal surgeries and incentivizes specialists to provide appropriate treatment by bundling payments in a value-based program. Walmart estimates that nearly a third of spine surgeries are unnecessary and contracts with 12 high-quality hospitals, including Mayo Clinic and Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, to offer the procedures.
During last week’s HLTH conference, Marcus Osborne, vice president of health transformation at Walmart, pushed the idea of “optimized networks” to increase consumer price and cost transparency and steering patients to providers with higher-quality performance.
Sharecare is part of a growing wave of products focused on platforms that create symbiotic relationships by taking in clinical data and pushing out notifications and nudges to influence patient behavior. These behavioral economics strategies are seen as a means to influence patient actions in hopes to ultimately bring down costs and make individuals healthier.