Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offers new digital health portfolio, focus on diabetes, fertility

By Laura Lovett
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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the year Livongo was founded. It has also been updated to accurately reflect the company's funding history. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has secured its place as a digital health player with the announcement that it is launching a new portfolio of digital tools is it calling its Emerging Solutions platform. The initial offerings will focus on chronic disease prevention and management, as well as fertility, pregnancy, and parenting. 

"We've heard from many of our employer customers that they are looking for new ways to help their employees with specific challenges including diabetes, pre-diabetes, and maternity," Debbie Williams, senior vice president of sales and account service, said in a statement. "Emerging Solutions can address these needs. One of the feeders into our Emerging Solutions is the work done by Zaffre Investments, our health-focused investment arm. We have a unique opportunity to continuously see the newest technological advancements in health and select those that will best benefit our members."

The insurer is enlisting some of the biggest names in the industry as part of their new initiative. As of July, the insurer will be offering Livongo, a chronic illness management app, Omada, a diabetes management and lifestyle tool, and Ovia Health, a predictive coaching app to support women from pre-conception and pregnancy until they return to work. 

Livongo has been a player in digital health for some time. Last year it acquired Diabeto, a diabetes management company, giving Livongo members access to more digital tools.

Livongo was founded in 2009 under the name EosHealth. In 2017 it landed $52.5 million in a funding round. 

Omada is another big name in diabetes management. In Januarythe company teamed up with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Wake Forest Medical to conduct the largest randomized controlled study of digital diabetes prevention tools, according to the company. The San Francisco-based startup also raised $50 million in new funding to work with Cigna to commercial a digital health coaching app. 

Ovia, previously Ovuline, has a history of working with BCBSMA. In 2016 Zaffre Investment, the investment arm of BCBSMA, led a funding round for their suit of apps. It has also partnered with the insurer to help develop apps to help women track their fertility and pregnancy. 

"We share Blue Cross' commitment to innovating maternity and family health care — more than 8 million women and families have used our Ovia Fertility, Ovia Pregnancy, and Ovia Parenting offerings," Paris Wallace, CEO of Ovia Health, said in a statement. "We're thrilled to introduce Blue Cross members to our mobile technology that can help guide them confidently throughout their fertility, pregnancy, and parenthood journeys.”

This isn’t BCBSMA’s first experience with digital health. The company dipped its toes into the field when it partnered with American Well in 2015 to pilot the company’s video visits offerings, called WellConnection, with two provider organizations Emerson Physician Hospital Organization and Lowell General Physician Hospital Organization. But it has been invovled in this space for more than half a decade, in 2012 BCBSMA was one of the companies supporting Healthbox’s Boston area accelerator program.