ACO implementation program Caravan Health looks to digital with acquisition of Wellpepper

Caravan has acquired the startup's tech, staff and customers.
By Laura Lovett
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Caravan Health, a company that helps providers transition into accountable care organizations (ACO), has dipped into the digital space with the acquisition of patient engagement tech vendor Wellpepper, according to the startup’s former CEO Anne Weiler. 

Founded in 2012, Wellpepper works with health plans to provide their patients with digital treatment plans, messaging services and an alert system, among other tools.  

“[Wellpepper is] a clinically validated platform for interactive patient care plans,” Weiler told MobiHealthNews. “We delivered across the whole care continuum chronic [and] acute care plans [that] help patients self-manage and to get better results. We proved that by working with researchers at Harvard and Boston University to do control trials, [it] showed better patient self-efficacy, adherence and most importantly clinically meaningful improvements in classes like mobility, reduced ED visits and so on.”

Caravan, which is an organization focused on assisting hospitals and provider groups to implement a value-based care model, purchased Wellpepper’s tech, team and customers. 

“They were starting to see the need to not just help hospitals on the ACO [delivery] but actually engage the patients as a key component of the team to get better results,” Weiler said. “ACOs are really the ones who are looking at making lower cost of care, improved outcomes and improved patient experience. With Caravan being in the ACO space, they need to do all of those things for patients. From the standpoint of delivering services around care and needing to meet these key criteria for CMS, it was a nice shift because both companies were experts on a different area.” 

Caravan said it will be using this tool to boost communication between care teams and patients. 

“We continue to invest in better ways to serve our clients, including through innovations in communication between patients and care managers,” a spokesperson from Caravan Health wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews. “Nurses form the backbone of our industry-leading transformation model, and supporting them with more technology will help us build on the projected more than $135 million in savings our clients created for Medicare in 2019.”

WHY IT MATTERS

This move marks yet another M&A for 2020, but unlike the year's other M&As between like-minded companies bolstering their business, this is a case where one party is purchasing a tech outfit with implementation in mind.

“I do think we’re going to see more consolidation in the space. In the last year we saw a lot of focus on digital strategy so I think that is one point you’ll see consolidation in: patient engagement," Weiler said. "What we were hearing over and over from CEOs and CIOs was ‘yep, love what you are doing it’s a piece of the larger puzzle.' I think that is going to be the trend here.” 

For Weiler, it's also an example an organization recognizing the value of tech tools that facilitate care and drive patient engagement. “I think for a while there was a lot of hype and a lot of people saying they did patient engagement but it wasn’t really patient engagement and yet there’s this digital strategy trend where people are looking for something where all the patient-facing technology works together. I think we’ll see a lot of progress in that field.” 

THE LARGER TREND 

patient engagement tools are being explored by major hospital systems. Last year at HIMSS19 the Mayo Clinic discussed the rollout of its tool to help communicate long-term health management plans and assist patients with plan adherence. In fact, Wellpepper has taken a page from Mayo Clinic’s book on digital patient engagement those care plans in the past, according to its website. 

And this isn’t the first conversation around ACOs looking to patient engagement tools. As far back as 2014, stakeholders were discussing the benefits tech could bring to the ACO model.