California Blues embrace digital therapeutics platform
Blue Shield of California and Solera Health have teamed up to offer a new free digital therapeutics platform to BSC members.
At the same time, the partnership between BSC and Solera—a company that consolidates highly fragmented programs and services into a single marketplace—aims to hold participating vendors accountable for producing good outcomes.
BSC and Solera created their new “whole-health” platform, called Wellvolution, to provide BSC members with guided on-demand access to a tailored network of clinically proven apps—all using lifestyle to prevent, treat or reverse disease, the companies say. The program is available to BSC’s 4.3 million members who are fully insured in employer-sponsored, individual or family plans.
Holding wellness vendors accountable for engaging members and producing positive outcomes is a new concept and a deviation from how Blue Shield has done it in the past, says Bryce Williams, BSC’s vice president of lifestyle medicine.
Usually the approach involves issuing an RFP and selecting a vendor, but this model results in a limited choice of wellness programs for members, he says. In addition, members are limited variation in choice in wellness programs—they often don’t participate. The new program under Wellvolution offers dozens of choices, and members can change their minds and hop to new choices if one doesn’t work for them, he says.
BSC offered and piloted the Wellvolution program from March to June with its more than 6,000 employees, and it received favorable reviews, Williams says. The health plan is seeing more than 2,000 members signing on to the program per week since it became available June 1.
The new Wellvolution platform provides curated, scientific and results-based digital programs that help prevent, treat and potentially reverse diseases, and it can also be personalized to each of its members' individual health needs and preferences—an innovative “self-empowering” health and wellness plan that Williams calls, “the best kind of medicine you can prescribe, and in some ways the most simple powerful medicine.”
The program offers apps for treating sleep quality; stress management; physical activity; diet and nutrition; tobacco cessation; cardio-metabolic disease prevention (for example, diabetes and heart disease) along with chronic condition reversal.
Half of those signing up so far are interested in reversing chronic conditions, while the other half are interested in more basic wellness programs, he says. This is good news on both fronts, because whether seeking to reverse a serious condition or trying to lose a few pounds, “a lot of people don’t understand that modest changes can have a big effect on your health. They give the most bang for your buck,” he says.
Brenda Schmidt, CEO of Solera, says the program has now vetted 40 vendors and will continue to add more, but Solera and BSC anticipate that some programs may not make the grade. It’s a matter of quality, not quantity of vendors, she says, and Solera and BSC won’t be shy about cutting vendors that can’t produce. All disease-reversal programs offered by Wellvolution have been clinically reviewed and have scientific evidence that they can treat members' conditions at the same level or better than traditional therapy, she says.
The BSC and Solera partnership is the latest in a series of efforts that brings together Solera and the Blues. On March 26, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute (BCBSI), a subsidiary of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, composed of 36 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations, announced it is forming a “disruptive business alliance” with Solera to address social determinants of health (SDOH).
Then on May 15, HCSC Ventures, the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer, along with a handful of Blues, invested $42 million in venture capital to back Solera’s efforts to improve healthcare by focusing on SDOH.