Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield taps AbilTo to offer members tele-therapy after cardiac events

By Aditi Pai
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AbilToHorizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has announced that it has tapped AbilTo to offer members the option to participate in therapy sessions via phone or video after they've experienced a cardiac event. Beginning this month, the offering will be available to certain commercial employer groups, including the Federal Employee Program (FEP).

This partnership comes just a few months after BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners contributed to AbilTo's $12 million funding round, which was announced in June. 

“It is not uncommon for patients to experience anxiety, sadness and stress following a heart event, which is why Horizon is committed to giving our members the tools they need to recover both physically and emotionally from their experience,” Horizon BCBSNJ Senior Medical Director Steven Wolinsky said in a statement. “This is a holistic approach to care that can speed recovery, improve overall health and reduce the likelihood of complications and hospital readmissions.”

AbilTo is focused on identifying and remotely treating mental health co-morbidities that can negatively affect recovery from medical conditions or events such as cardiac events.

The company works with health plans and employers, including Aetna and Costco, to identify the individuals in an employee population that are at the highest risk for these complications and are the most likely to be helped by treatment. Then those patients are invited to an eight-week messaging program with a therapist and health coach that can be carried out either via video visit or with a phone call. AbilTo offers 16 different programs.

AbilTo's total funding has reached at least $21 million to date. In addition to the $12 million AbilTo picked up earlier this year, the company raised another $9 million -- $3 million from .406 Ventures in May 2013 and a $6 million round, led by BCBS and Sandbox, last March.

In February, AbilTo’s offering for heart patients was written up in a study in the American Journal of Managed Care. The 281-person study found that program participants had 31 percent as many hospital admissions at a six-month follow up and 48 percent as many days in hospital. Cost savings for the 201 patients in the intervention group were estimated at over $800,000.