Anthem’s COPD initiative offers sensors on inhalers to manage illness

Anthem is introducing a program that uses sensor-equipped inhalers to help patients manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio is rolling out the initiative in collaboration with Propeller Health, a digital therapeutics company. The program first will be tried to improve health outcomes of those enrolled in Anthem’s Medicare Advantage health plans suffering from COPD.

The small sensors, designed by Propeller Health, will be paired with a mobile app to automatically track medication use, and provide personal feedback and insights back to users to help them manage and cope with symptoms.

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The insurer will benefit as well—its care management team will use Propeller Health’s online provider portal to gain understanding how consumers are managing their COPD, in hopes of providing more personalized care and treatment.

Consumers qualify to participate in the program if they’ve had at least one visit to an emergency department or been hospitalized for COPD.

The chronic disease is not curable, but consumers’ quality of life can be improved through better management. More real-time information and timely use of inhalers may help prevent emergency department visits or hospitalizations. An estimated 16 million Americans have COPD, and millions more are unaware they have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

“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,” says Linda Hotchkiss, MD, managing medical director for Anthem’s Medicare Advantage Central Region.

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