Happify Health, AHA partner to release heart health-focused digital mental health program

The collaboration between the digital health company and the cardiovascular health organization aims to reduce stress and encourage healthy habits among employees and plan members.
By Dave Muoio
08:00 am
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Happify Health has developed and launched a new digital mental health program with the American Heart Association (AHA) that aims to reduce stress and encourage healthy behaviors among people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Patrick Burke, head of healthcare at Happify Health, told MobiHealthNews that his company's content team and the AHA's experts have been working together for more than 18 months to develop the Heart and Mind product.

It consists of 10 four-week programs that teach users stress-reduction strategies while encouraging regular activity and heart-healthy eating habits. It particularly focuses on "Life's Simple 7," a collection of risk factors identified by the AHA that can increase wellness and reduce cardiovascular deaths.

Much like Happify Health's broader catalogue of digital mental health and behavior change programs, Heart and Mind is being delivered through the company's platform for employer and health plan customers.

WHY IT MATTERS

The AHA is well aware of the link between mental health and cardiovascular health, as evidenced by informational materials on the organization's website and clinical data presented at its most recent Scientific Sessions.

And while Patrick Wayte, SVP at the AHA's Center for Health Technology and Innovation (CHTI) told MobiHealthNews in an email that the organization "continues to provide a range of traditional methods to reach people as well," it chose to combine its heart-health expertise with Happify's digital behavioral health intervention "knowing that people are often challenged in multiple ways with regard to their health, and that one issue impacts another."

From Burke's perspective, AHA's decision to pursue the partnership is also an acknowledgement from the long-standing professional organization that digital interventions can amplify the reach of their health and wellness teachings.

"[Digital platforms allow AHA] to scale the deep knowledge they have in specific condition areas," Burke said. "It also helps them marry it with expertise like Happify has related to digital mental health, because the Holy Grail of behavior change is to get underneath the things that are getting in all of our ways as individuals. That's what makes the work that we've done together so meaningful – because we've been able to bring each of our expertise to bear for the same goal."

Burke said that Happify's digital programs are often the result of content collaborations. He noted that the company has tapped more than 40 experts from around the world when putting together its mental health products.

Still, to partner and release a product with the nearly 100-year-old clinical organization is a noteworthy milestone for the growing digital health company, he said, and paves the way for the Happify's upcoming and in-progress collaborations across the healthcare industry.

"To work with someone as impressive as the AHA on a condition is a natural outgrowth of what we're doing – we've just expanded it into working on this chronic condition with them," Burke said. "We're looking at physician burnout with another partner of ours, CoreWellness, and we're also a digital therapeutic company that's going through FDA approval, ... and we've got a 10-year agreement with Sanofi [to] treat multiple sclerosis."

THE LARGER TREND

Through CHTI's Innovators' Network, the AHA has been dipping its toes into new medical technologies including digital health.

"Fundamentally, we are endeavoring to define new, evidence-based approaches by working with scalable, digital-health platforms/technologies/solutions where we can identify improvements in health understanding/knowledge and also ultimately health outcomes," Wayte said.

Among the organization's recent projects was a digital health-pitch contest held during November's Scientific Sessions, in which finalists including Happify, Welldoc, PhysIQ, Qura and others were edged out by Pittsburgh-based Forest Devices' stroke-triage platform for EMS teams.

And as for Happify, the company announced in April the launch of a screening and referral hub for employees and health plan members called Happify Connect. The company has also been offering free resources to help manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19 and racial injustice.

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