Boston Medical Center puts its faith in a mobile support platform for patients

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

In a sign that healthcare providers are beginning to see the value of social media, Boston Medical Center has announced a partnership with OneHealth Solutions to provide primary care patients with an online and mobile peer support platform.

This is Solana Beach, Calif.-based OneHealth's first contract to serve a hospital's primary care patients, and represents a recognition of the value of social media platforms as a means to better engage with patients. Through the contract, BMC will offer its eligible patients access to OneHealth's private, HIPAA-compliant network of social health communities, beginning with Tobacco Free and branching out to other communities like Stress Reduction, Obesity and Depression.

“We are committed to providing innovative services like OneHealth that engage and motivate patients to make better health decisions and support BMC’s ongoing initiatives to improve primary care,” said Robert L. Sokolove, PhD, associate clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at Boston Medical Center, in a press release. “In particular, OneHealth’s technology-enabled platform aligns with our PCMH program to help foster partnerships between patients and BMC’s primary care physicians and encourage new perspectives and behaviors that help improve health outcomes.”

Officials say the program will target the hospital's underserved population, which features a high percentage of cellphone users but few computer users. The partnership is designed to give participants an online and mobile peer support group to encourage self-management and engagement between office visits and to facilitate the integration of BMC's Patient-Centered Medical Home program.

“Our vision from the beginning has been to integrate peer support communities with gaming techniques and clinical expertise to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs,” said Bruce Springer, OneHealth's CEO, in the release. “Our significant growth in the past six months demonstrates market validation for OneHealth’s peer-based platform to support the complex challenges associated with chronic disease management and behavior change. We are pleased that nationally renowned healthcare providers like Boston Medical Center recognize the important role peer support contributes to the healthcare continuum.”

The partnership marks a new direction for OneHealth, which came onto the scene in 2007 as OneRecovery, specializing in online resources for recovering substance abuse addicts, and rebranded in 2012 to OneHealth Solutions. The company now features a mobile app designed to help users find a wide range of 12-step and other self-help programs and a behavioral health outcomes platform that targets patients, providers, payers and employers.

Earlier this month, the company announced an alliance with New Directions Behavioral Health, billed as one of the largest behavioral health companies in the nation, to extend mHealth, eHealth and social networking services to its members.

“We anticipate that OneHealth’s combination of social networking technology, monitored peer networks and mobile applications will drive strong results,” said John Emerick, chief medical officer for New Directions Behavioral Health, in a press release. “New Directions is committed to developing programs that enable our members to make informed and sustainable healthcare decisions. OneHealth offers a robust platform for encouraging positive behavior change.”

“With the nation’s increasing focus on improving modifiable health risks and costly chronic medical conditions, it is important for health plan members to have access to peer-based tools that positively influence health decisions," Springer said of that partnership. "We look forward to working with New Directions and generating positive outcomes for its membership.”