Verizon and Ginger.io target Medicaid's most expensive patients

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

A new mHealth program is aimed squarely at a hospital's most expensive patients – the so-called "superutilizers."

The Centerstone Research Institute, a Nashville-based not-for-profit focused on improving healthcare for those with mental health and addiction disorders, is partnering with mHealth vendor Ginger.io and Verizon to launch coactionHealth. The program aims to use mobile technologies to help individuals with complex behavioral health disorders who generally rack up more than $25,000 a year in Medicaid expenses.

“Five percent of high-utilizer Medicaid beneficiaries represent more than half of the state Medicaid dollars spent each year,” Centerstone Research Institute CEO Tom Doub said in a recent press release. “These individuals typically have co-occurring mental and physical disorders that make managing their care difficult. Understanding their needs and finding ways to help them better manage their health is critical in controlling healthcare costs.”

The program makes use of mobile surveys, a high-intensity wellness coach available on-site or through mobile communications, a support team that includes consultants, nurses and licensed therapists, and a home mHealth package consisting of mobile phones, health data tracking apps and connectivity tools for communication with different members of the care team.

In a three-month pilot run between April and July of this year, officials said coactionHealth resulted in fewer hospitalizations and reduced patients' needs related to home mobility, personal care, nutrition and a safe living environment by some 55 percent.

As part of the program, Ginger.io, an MIT-launched startup that develops smartphone-based mHealth tools, sent participants a daily mental wellbeing survey through an app on their smartphones. The survey enabled caregivers to identify abnormal behaviors, such as the presence of depression, social isolation or suicidal thoughts, and intervene when necessary. The platform also enabled the care team to chart each patient's behavioral trends over time.