Verizon, MIT startup partner on mHealth venture

Verizon Wireless has joined forces with an MIT startup and a nonprofit mental health services organization to develop technology to help people with complex mental and physical health conditions better manage their health.

Nashville-based Centerstone Research Institute and Ginger.io, a spinoff from the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., are working with Verizon to develop coactionHealth, an intervention program assisting such patients through a "high-touch, high-tech healthcare model," according to a CRI news release.

The companies launched a pilot program in April with patients on Medicaid who have more than $25,000 in annual healthcare-related expenses and co-occurring mental and physical health needs. The program offers a wellness coach — available both remotely and at a hospital — and a support team, including a nurse and therapist. Participants also received a technology package with mobile phones, health tracking apps and connectivity tools.

Additionally, Ginger.io sends participants a few questions each day through their mobile phones to assess their mental wellbeing. If a patient inputs an answer that triggers an alert, providers are notified and can preemptively respond.

Participants in the pilot program experienced fewer hospitalization days than the three months prior to the intervention, and 100 percent reported feeling confident in managing their healthcare conditions 30 days into the program.

"The coactionHealth pilot demonstrated that technology can be a vital tool in advancing behavioral healthcare and making the healthcare system more efficient and effective for people with chronic and complex conditions," said Tom Doub, PhD, CEO of Centerstone Research Institute.

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