Minnesota’s BCBS, Homeward Health launch rural health partnership

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is expanding its reach caring for rural residents Through a partnership with Homeward Health.

Homeward Health is a tech-enabled startup that uses a combination of mobile clinics, home care, and remote patient monitoring technology to provide care for underserved patients in rural communities. Blue Cross Medicare Advantage members in 24 Minnesota counties outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area will have access to Homeward’s services. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the two organizations identified 10,000 Medicare Advantage members across the state who are currently not using existing care systems or have known gaps in care.

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“As we roll this out and we see how it works in some of those initial counties, we look forward to growing and expanding,” said Dr. Mark Steffen, chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. can look for.” “We certainly see this as a model that should have legs in the future.”

Stephen said many of its rural members have to drive more than an hour to reach an in-person provider. They believe a hybrid model incorporating telehealth with mobile health clinics can help members who would otherwise struggle to access care.

“What the Homeward model represents is really getting out there and meeting people where they are,” Steffen said.

Dr. Jennifer Schneider, former president of Livongo, in March 2022 a $20 million general catalyst investment, Homeward in August Raised $50M in Series B funding roundwhich has helped fund its expansion.

“There is great interest in partnering with innovative providers who are willing to bear the total cost of care,” said Schneider. “Economic Incentives in a Fee-for-Service World Don’t Work in Rural Markets.”

While no date has been set for placements to begin, Homeward hopes to be operational sometime this spring. The plan is to grow beyond those 24 countries over time.

The settlement is Homeward’s second in the past calendar year. In August, the company announced a value-based partnership with Priority Health, a nonprofit health plan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 23-county program in Michigan is similar to the company’s agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

“Our goal is to partner, not displace,” said Schneider. “To partner with local providers, local health systems, and to be in addition.”

Schneider didn’t cite any specific providers Homeward is working with for this arrangement in Minnesota.

The homeward will act as an entity bearing the entire risk for its patient population. This is necessary to improve overall health outcomes and reduce the cost of care for rural patients, Schneider said. Rural patients have a 23% higher mortality rate than urban communities due to lack of access to quality care, according to research published in 2019 health issues,

“We’re the ones on the hook to provide care for the funds allocated,” Schneider said. “We get paid when we are able to deliver higher quality care at a more efficient delivery.”

This story was first published in Digital Health Business & Technology.

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