In December, Highmark Health announced a six-year collaboration with Google Cloud that the companies said would lay down the infrastructure of the integrated delivery network's data-driven Living Health Dynamic Platform.
Today, the organizations unveiled plans to get Verily and its Onduo chronic care subsidiary in on the action as well. Through another six-year partnership, the partners will work together to develop and build clinical validation for digital health tools focused on patient engagement. Those that are up to snuff will be integrated by Alphabet companies into Highmark's Living Health model for broader deployment.
Built on the Google Cloud-powered platform, these new tools will incorporate real-time monitoring and predictive analytics informed by machine learning, the partners said.
Specifically, Highmark EVP and Chief Medical and Clinical Transformation Officer Dr. Tony Farah said during a press call that the programs will be employing virtual care, digitally enabled devices, health coaching, phone calls and other patient-engagement approaches.
Meanwhile, data from the Living Health Dynamic Platform will identify early opportunities for intervention and thereby extend personalized care outside of the traditional clinical setting, he said.
"With technology, we can offer this kind of personalized care at scale," Dr. Vivian Lee, president of health platforms at Verily and chair of the board for Onduo, said during the press event.
"I'm thrilled that our team at Verily will be bringing our technology, our product [development] and data science know-how to Highmark's members and patients, including leveraging the capabilities of our subsidiary Onduo."
The effort will initially be focused on patients with chronic conditions, and will likely expand from earlier work within diabetes into other focus areas such as congestive heart failure, COPD and others, Farah said.
In addition, the partners stressed that Highmark Health will retain control access and use of patients' data throughout the collaboration, and that Verily will be added to the same data privacy and ethics review board established with December's Google Cloud partnership.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT?
The latest partnership provides Verily and Onduo a testbed to hammer out new digital health offerings and then monitor their deployment in a real-world setting. Meanwhile, Highmark said that it's eying improved experiences for all of its stakeholders alongside the other benefits that these programs could bring.
"We believe the powerful combination of Verily's technology and product capabilities, Google Cloud's secure platform and Highmark Health's clinical expertise, both as a payer and a provider of healthcare, is the ideal trifecta that will accelerate the meaningful use of analytic tools to improve health outcomes, lower the cost of care and enhance the patient and clinician experience," Karen Hanlon, EVP and COO of Highmark Health, said during the press event.
Hanlon also noted that the companies had already seen promising results from an Onduo diabetes care pilot conducted last year. With these new programs she said that Highmark would ultimately be looking to deploy across all of its current markets – Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York.
Among the nearly five million individuals that fall within the group's insurance population, "hundreds of thousands" have at least one of the targeted chronic conditions and could benefit from the new digital health programs, she said.
THE LARGER TREND
News of this partnership comes exactly one month after Onduo announced plans to expand its virtual diabetes platform into multi-condition management, with a particular focus on issues such as hypertension and mental wellbeing. The collaboration also comes a few months after a massive $700 million funding round for Verily, which it said at the time would help expand and support commercial businesses including its Verily Health Platforms for population health and chronic disease management.
Google Cloud has also been fairly active within the healthcare sector as of late. In November, it unveiled two artificial intelligence tools designed to help organizations scan and analyze large volumes of unstructured text.
The company launched a Healthcare Interoperability Readiness Program in November to help health systems comply with the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. It was tapped to provide the Department of Defense's medical facilities with a prototype digital pathology system in September.
Not to be forgotten, Google pulled back the curtain on Care Studio just last week. The clinician-facing tool helps organize patients' medical records with the help of the company's trademark search capabilities. It was the product of a multiyear collaboration with Ascension Health that drew some privacy-related criticisms from lawmakers and others.