Florida Blue parent Guidewell, Sharecare to launch JV to build apps for payers

By Jonah Comstock
12:35 pm
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Health engagement platform Sharecare is forming a joint venture with Guidewell, parent company to several health plans including Florida Blue, Florida’s largest health insurer. The as-yet-unnamed JV will combine member data and expertise from Guidewell with Sharecare’s digital health tools to create an all-in-one app for health plans, starting with Florida Blue, to provide to members.

Jeff Arnold, the CEO of Sharecare and former WebMD founder, said this JV is similar to the one Sharecare embarked on with HCA last year, but with a payer focus rather than a provider one.

“With Sharecare, for the last 18 months we’ve had a JV with HCA which is the largest for-profit hospital system in the country. And it’s been a great collaboration, because they have picked consumerism as a key new pillar for their business. ... We’ve developed products together, we’ve deployed everything systemwide across the country and we’ve learned a lot about doctors and they’ve learned a lot about digital health,” he told MobiHealthNews. “The natural next evolution for Sharecare was ‘How do we do that in the payer world?’ How do we find a payer that has dominant marketshare, has strong leadership, and supports consumerism?”

The offering will combine all the apps and web features that Sharecare has built and acquired over the years — symptom checker AskMD, health risk assessment RealAge, its stress management app, and others — into one comprehensive app, a first for Sharecare. That app will launch at the beginning of next year. With the Sharecare features driving engagement, the two companies will start to layer in more tools that connect the patient, health plan, and provider and make use of the health plan’s claims data.

“The goal, ultimately, is that because of a lot of the Sharecare tools, members will access this portal pretty frequently — maybe as frequently as every time they use their cellphone,” Dr. Rene Lerer, president of Guidewell, told MobiHealthNews. “That ability to connect to the patient is pretty unique. [So now if I know] you didn’t pay your premium this month and I know that you’re going to be checking this portal, I have a great tool to get that information to you. Or that you didn’t fill your prescription or we don’t think you’re taking your meds because you filled the 30-day prescription 45 days ago.”

“Now every doctor lookup table in AskMD will be perfectly tailored to that individual’s network based on the plan,” Arnold added. “And then imagine being able to get data in near realtime on pharmacy, medical claims, labs and we’ll be able to get that data into the app, running on artificial intelligence and start to create amazing data-driven dialogues because we’ll know so much more about the member. … It’s data that most digital health companies just don’t have access to. So we’ve got great engagement tools and then Florida Blue has amazing data on the members and when you marry that data with the engagement tools, you drive this hyperpersonalization.”

The joint venture will be an independent company supported by Sharecare and Guidewell. Florida Blue will be its first customer and will serve as a testbed for new tools, but the two companies are already in discussions with other health plans across the country. The app will be free to members, but the JV will charge health plans and self-insured employers for access for their covered lives.

Sharecare will continue to look into new apps through internal R&D and through acquisitions. Arnold said the areas he’s currently most interested in are technology-enabled coaching and virtual reality as a tool to improve health literacy.

“It’s going to be a great collaboration and I think the winner here is the consumer,” Arnold said of the new JV. “They’re going to get unparalleled access to data, products and services all in one place that they haven’t had before.”

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