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Solera Health, WellDoc Partnership a "Natural Evolution" That Will Address Diabetes Prevention, Management


The pairing will give employers and health plans "holistic" solutions for chronic disease management, according to CEOs of the companies.

Solera Health, which has built an integrated network to connect employers, health plans, and providers of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), has formed a partnership that will answer a key question for its clients: what happens when a blood test for the DPP shows the person already has diabetes?

Enter WellDoc, the digital health provider and creator of the BlueStar digital therapeutic platform, which include products with FDA clearance to give people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) access to real-time coaching, education, and the ability to share blood glucose data with a healthcare provider.

On Wednesday, Brenda Schmidt, MS, MBA, CEO of Solera Health, and Kevin McRaith, CEO of WellDoc, announced a partnership that will make BlueStar available across Solera’s network, giving Solera the ability to offer a what Schmidt calls a “holistic” approach to diabetes prevention and management. For WellDoc, Solera offers a different type of partnership, alongside its existing relationships with Johnson & Johnson’s LifeScan and Samsung, in that Solera Health offers a more efficient way to connect with payers, and, ultimately, the end user.

“It allows us to broaden our reach with our product,” McRaith said, during a joint interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®.

The partnership, Schmidt said, “has significant advantages for our health plan and employer clients who want to use a digital therapeutic like BlueStar, but can implement it much more quickly by accessing that solution through their existing contract with Solera.”

In fact, while McRaith and Schmidt had been talking for some time, the partnership came together when a large employer in the Solera network wanted to access BlueStar within its contract, Schmidt said. Once BlueStar is in the network, she said, launching it for an employer goes very quickly, with an employer’s health plan paying the cost through medical claims.

The partnership comes as many more Americans are about to get some unexpected news. As Medicare gets ready to offer the DPP to beneficiaries starting April 1, 2018, Schmidt is ready not only for the millions of seniors who will come through her network looking to be matched with a prevention program, but also for those whose bloodwork will show they already have diabetes.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to work with the health plans, the Medicare Advantage plans, to develop a seamless referral to a platform that going to help them effectively manage their diabetes,” she said.

Solera is contracted with 18 of the 20 largest Medicare Advantage plans, and Schmidt said there are already plans to get blood test results to the plans on behalf of their members.

Natural evolution

Schmidt sees the WellDoc partnership as part of the “natural evolution” of what Solera can do, as it reaches beyond diabetes prevention into diabetes management; other areas of need include mental health and sleep management. As health plans and employers look to offer multiple healthcare choices for diverse groups of employees or beneficiaries, having a single resource and contract “makes a lot of sense,” Schmidt said.

Having BlueStar on the Solera network tells employers and health plans that the digital therapeutic passes muster; because Solera operates on a pay-for-performance model, it can only include high-quality, high-engagement partners with proven outcomes. That’s important, McRaith said, because employers and payers “are getting bombarded,” with more than 200 offerings a day in the digital health space, including 16% are in diabetes.

“The whole landscape is evolving quickly, and the other aspect is there’s a bit of fatigue—there’s so much noise that people are trying to understand the differences that are out there,” he said.

But payers and employers are asking better questions, McRaith said, and WellDoc’s history of 30 peer-reviewed studies, including a randomized clinical trial, helps set the company apart.

“The questions are related to outcomes, engagement, cost savings, and what evidence is there that your product works?’” McRaith said. “For us to work with someone with traction in the DPP space is a nice logical fit.”

All that data

Since data are at the heart of what both Solera and WellDoc do, what can they do together? What are the research opportunities? WellDoc is not the only big news on this front for Solera—earlier this month, the network announced a partnership with Blue Mesa Health to offer the DPP in Spanish.

McRaith said it’s essential to think about finding greater meaning in the data that’s already been collected. Schmidt said having new data will amplify what is already known from the DPP experience: not every solution works with every person.

By using data to move toward personalized diabetes management, she said, health systems will be able to predict at the outset what interventions will work with a given patient. From the perspective of a large employer or health plan, Schmidt said, the question will be, “What’s moving the needle on behavioral change on micro-sub segments of diverse populations?”

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