Digital health deals: CareFirst makes strategic investment in Sharecare and more

By Jonah Comstock

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the mid-Atlantic region’s largest health insurer, has made a strategic investment in Sharecare, as well as signing a contract to provide CareFirst members with access to ShareCare's suite of digital services.

"We are committed to providing our members with the tools and information they need to take an active role in improving their health,” CareFirst President and CEO Chet Burrell said in a statement. “Our wellness and disease management program is designed to help identify our members who are at-risk for or living with a serious health condition and assist them in adopting healthier lifestyles through the better management of those conditions. When aligned with our clinical programs and capabilities, Sharecare’s technology, tools and expertise will enable us to fully understand our members’ behaviors, provide them with the information they need to make informed health care decisions and deliver meaningful incentives that motivate them to make changes.”

The four-year contract includes access to smartphone-based disease management systems, health assessment, coaching systems, and more.

“We are honored for the opportunity to expand on our CareFirst partnership with this new service agreement and investment, both of which underscore our shared vision to improve the health of a diverse population by engaging the member, and leveraging data-driven insights to provide people with real-time access to the tools and resources they need to best manage their health,” Jeff Arnold, chairman and CEO of Sharecare, said in a statement. “CareFirst continues to transform the delivery of healthcare to its members through its integrated model that enables care coordination between all key stakeholders; and our comprehensive digital platform and ability to engage people in their health – no matter where they are in their health journey – will serve to enhance that model, ultimately resulting in better outcomes and reduced costs.”


Smartphone-based clinical communication provider Vocera shared success stories recently about two customer relationships: a deployment with Episcopal Senior Communities, a bay area chain of elder residences, and one with Hunt Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Northeast Texas. 

At ESC, Vocera's system was integrated with the communities’ resident safety system, allowing alarms and alerts to go directly to the appropriate staff member’s Vocera badge or mobile device. 

“The integration of Vocera technology with our life-safety system is like having our own 911 center,” Karen Kemp, application support manager at ESC, said in a statement. “By eliminating the delays once caused by manual dispatching and unreliable radio links, it lets us respond to resident needs faster and more intelligently. When I talk with staff in different departments across the communities, I’m told over and over by employees there is no way they’ll ever give up their Vocera devices.”

Hunt, meanwhile, saw a 13 percent increase in HCHAPS scores after adding Vocera.

“The real-time request-tracking capabilities and service recovery interventions made possible with the Vocera technology have made a huge difference in our processes,” Debby Clack, chief nursing officer at Hunt Regional, said in a statement. “We are able to expedite our responses to patient needs, which has dramatically improved satisfaction and the overall healthcare experience.”


Blessing Health System in Illinois has tapped Care Logistics to run its Care Logistics Hospital Operating System. Care Logistics' software is designed to break down silos and improve the efficiency of communications, coordination, and handoffs. 

"Hospital leaders and care providers face a challenging environment today," Karl Straub, president and CEO of Care Logistics, said in a statement. "We are pleased to collaborate with Blessing to help them on their journey to transform their operations to meet those challenges. By focusing on improving patient flow and care delivery, Blessing is ensuring a high-performance environment that delivers positive outcomes for their patients."


Dallas, Texas-based Methodist Family Health Centers, a subsidiary of Methodist Health System, has tapped back-end telemedicine provider Zipnosis to power Methodist NOW, a new online treatment and diagnosis center. The system enables realtime chat between patients and providers as well as asynchronous options for the treatment of for more than 25 common health conditions, including minor skin conditions, pink eye, upper respiratory infections like cold and flu, and seasonal allergies. Members can get unlimited access to the service for $40 per month.

"Our mission at Methodist Medical Group is to exceed our patients' expectations for expanded access through a transformation of care delivery that includes integrated urgent care, extended hours and same-day appointments, and now virtual care," Dr. George Williams, president of Methodist Medical Group and CVP of Methodist Health System, said in a statement. "We believe expanding access and reducing barriers to high-value, ambulatory care will not only improve consumer experience, but also long-term health and wellness for our patients and community."


The Healthy Nevada Project, a community-based public health initiative, has brought on consumer genomics startup Helix to offer gene sequencing to 40,000 Nevadans. Researchers will combine genetic data with health and population data, as well as information from environmental databases, to create a large health determinants data set.

“From the beginning, our focus with the Healthy Nevada Project has been on delivering personalized health data to our communities that will ultimately drive positive change for our state,” Dr. Anthony Slonim, president and CEO of Renown Health, the healthcare network running the project, said in a statement. “We are very excited about the opportunities the next phase of this groundbreaking study will offer. Community participants will be able to gain deeper, actionable insights into their DNA data, while our research teams gain unprecedented access to the largest clinical exome sequencing facility in the world.”


Santa Cruz, California-based Two Pore Guys, which is developing a novel method of diagnostic testing via a device that digitally detects molecules, has announced a partnership with and investment from Maxim Integrated Products. The two will work together to develop analog signal processing technologies for 2PG's solid-state nanopore diagnostic testing platform.

"Our MoM relies on chips and components designed to produce analog signals with very low noise and very high sample rates, a technology space in which Maxim Integrated is an industry leader," Dan Heller, CEO of Two Pore Guys, said in a statement. "Maxim's chip sets optimize these aspects of our sensing capabilities, yielding much higher resolution of molecular structures, types and sizes, thereby allowing for better discrimination of molecules, from very small proteins and other analytes, to features of DNA and RNA. We will be working with Maxim to build customized, dedicated chips that further reduce cost, size, and power, while improving field robustness."