Health insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is ramping up a program scheduled to launch by the end of June to use improve member engagement with chronically ill and at-risk members.

The Wellesley, Mass.-based company plans to use engagement software that will collect information from members who have serious diseases and then deliver clinical information, medication and blood pressure reminders, and daily encouragement through customized and interactive health checklist “messages” to their mobile phones.

Software vendor Wellframe will collect patient insurance data to enable Harvard Pilgrim nurse managers to understand at-risk members’ health status and interact with them via smartphones to assess their needs, and members can send secure messages to their assigned nurse manager.

“Our new collaboration with Wellframe will enable our nurse managers to interact with our members instantaneously, whether our members are at home, work or traveling,” says Michael Sherman, MD, chief medical officer at Harvard Pilgrim.

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The insurer had been engaging with at-risk members via telephone calls or email, and its executives say they believe that a digital service based on smartphones or tablets will foster a deeper relationship and better identification of member needs.

Having a phone-based program was an easy decision, says April Greene, vice president of population health and clinical operations, because most individuals are used to interacting on smartphones. Wellframe offers a series of care team dashboards to let nurses and patients communicate via a secure messaging app placed on nurse and patient phones.

In April, the insurer started recruiting members who were transitioning from the hospital to the home and began offering lifestyle coaching as the program ramped up.

“Smartphones really take communication to the next level,” Greene adds. “The dashboards help improve health and wellness. It’s all about better outcomes.” As enrollment increases and real-world evidence is collected, the insurer expects to disclose results of the program.

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