Highmark expands access to Freespira's DTx, Almirall and Happify developing digital mental health program for European psoriasis patients and more digital health deals

Also: Kaiser Permanente doubles down on the cloud with Accenture and Microsoft; Boehringer Ingelheim arms its reps with BreezoMeter's air quality data.
By Dave Muoio
02:59 pm

Highmark, a Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated health insurer, will expand access to Freespira's digital therapeutic for PTSD, panic disorder, panic attacks and other panic symptoms.

In addition to bringing the treatment to members living in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, the agreement will also provide remote coaching on how to use Freespira to those not already receiving support from a behavioral health professional, according to the announcement.

"We are pleased with the clinical and financial outcomes achieved for our health plan members through the use of Freespira," Demetrios C. Marousis, director of behavioral health at Highmark, said in a statement.

"This breakthrough, drug-free treatment has reduced the impact of symptoms associated with panic attacks, resulting in reduced use of medications and other healthcare costs for symptom management. Freespira adds value to our members' plans and helps us to create a remarkable health care experience, freeing people to be their best."

Barcelona-based biopharma company Almirall and New York-based Happify Health will be working together to develop an international version of Claro, a digital treatment that addresses the mental health of psoriasis patients. This product would be designed for psoriasis patients living in Spain, Italy, France and the U.K., and would be deployed later this year through the Almirall patient support program.

"Since mental health events act as stressors that can trigger psoriasis flare ups, Happify is excited to work with a European leader like Almirall in this condition to address the mental and physical health symptoms of these patients," Chris Wasden, head of digital therapeutics at Happify Health, said in a statement.

"Our digital therapeutic solution acts as a complement to Almirall's commitment to psoriasis patients to empower people with psoriasis to live full lives through meaningful behavior change. Together, we can help psoriasis patients, one patient at a time, and at scale."

Kaiser Permanente has signed a multi-year collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft to bring more of its digital ecosystem to the cloud. The healthcare provider said that the partnership will enable new capabilities for Kaiser Permanente members and clinicians alike for more personalized and accessible care.

“This collaboration will help Kaiser Permanente better serve our members by providing our care teams with increased access to cloud-based services, which will enable them to deliver personalized digital experiences and make more data-informed decisions,” Diane Comer, SVP and interim CIO for Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement.

Boehringer Ingelheim's representatives will be using air quality data from BreezoMeter when speaking with clinicians about their patients' respiratory health, the pharma company announced last week. By tapping both real-time and historical data, Boehringer would be able to help predict when and whether environmental stressors could exacerbate symptoms of asthma, COPD and other conditions, and thereby raise awareness among providers.

"We complement our commitment to developing innovative therapies by developing innovative digital solutions with the goal of supporting healthcare providers in managing chronic conditions,” Jim Boushie, executive director of business transformation at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a statement.

“To improve respiratory health and treatment plans, we utilize BreezoMeter’s data to help expose the effects of high pollution and pollen. Their air quality analytics empower our teams and will continue to inform how we collaborate with physicians to improve patient outcomes.”

Otsuka Pharmaceutical's Development & Commercialization arm has partnered with Spencer Health Solutions, the maker of an at-home medication adherence platform, to further evaluate and deploy direct-to-patient services through the device. In particular, the pharma company said it will be considering the device's medication adherence and patient engagement capabilities in upcoming traditional and decentralized clinical trials.

“Our commitment to the democratization of clinical trials, patient engagement and leveraging technology to improve diversity and inclusion in clinical research helps drive our success at Otsuka,” Dr. Christoph Koenen, EVP and chief medical officer at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, said in a statement.

“The spencer smart hub will be an asset in our efforts to improve treatment plans for people living with challenging health conditions.”


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