Anthem BCBS Ohio taps tech startup to improve respiratory disease outcomes

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio plans to roll out a program targeted toward chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients.

The payer's care management team will begin working with providers to start enrollment later this summer, focusing on Ohio patients enrolled in Anthem's Medicare Advantage health plans who have a history of at least one emergency room visit or hospitalization caused by COPD, a group of lung diseases.

For the program, Anthem is collaborating with Propeller Health, a respiratory health startup that made headlines in 2015 for its work with the Louisville, Ky., government to assess whether GPS-enabled medication sensors improve asthma management.

Under the collaboration with Anthem, Propeller Health will provide patients with small sensors that attach to their inhalers. These sensors connect with a smartphone to automatically track medication use and provide personalized feedback that helps patients manage COPD symptoms.

Anthem's care management team will also use Propeller Health's online provider portal to assess patients' progress in managing their symptoms, which the payer said will help their team provide more targeted and personalized care.

"There's currently no cure for COPD, but much can be done to help consumers treat the disease," Linda Hotchkiss, MD, managing medical director of Anthem's Medicare Advantage central region, said in a news release. "This collaboration between Anthem and Propeller gives individuals access to connected care technology that will help them more easily manage their COPD, in order to help them have a better quality of life."

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