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Harvard mHealth Partnership to Improve Medicaid Chronic Care

An mHealth partnership between Harvard Medical School and a mobile healthcare company aims to improve care delivery to Medicaid beneficiaries.

Harvard Medical School partnership to improve chronic care for Medicaid members

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- A new mHealth partnership between Harvard Medical School and mPulse Mobile aims to study the effects of two-way text messaging on the self-care habits of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Through two separate programs, researchers from the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard will evaluate how text messaging can assist newly enrolled Medicaid members with a need to enroll in a supplemental chronic care management program.

The first program includes the use of interactive text messages that prompt members to sign up for GCHP’s asthma disease management program. This is to see if mHealth intervention has a positive effect at initial point-of-enrollment in Medicaid.

A second program will specifically examine if tailored text dialogues can impact primary care provider selection, utilization of preventive care services and screenings, and incidence of chronic illness.

Both text messaging programs are funded by the California Health Care Foundation Innovation Fund, and will be available to Medicaid members under the Gold Coast Health Plan (GCHP).

Chronic diseases are extremely problematic, as they comprise 86 percent of US healthcare costs. An mHealth approach to chronic disease management at this scale could help other organizations build similar strategies that deliver chronic care to large populations.

Harvard researchers believe that the mPulse technology can help with much needed improvements in how providers and other stakeholders engage with Medicaid members and their chronic disease management.

“There is a major need for innovation in care delivery and how we can engage patients outside of just the office visit,” said program researcher and associate professor of healthcare policy and medicine, Harvard Medical School, Ateev Mehrotra, MD, MPH.

“I’ve spent much of my career studying the ability of different interventions to drive advancements in population health management, and I’m excited about the possibility for mPulse Mobile to engage individuals in their health using tailored and interactive text messaging to improve outcomes and lower costs.”

The companies see language as a barrier for many newly enrolled beneficiaries to get proper screening and diagnoses for chronic conditions. An analysis of tailored text messaging aims to determine how language barriers affect a member’s ability to actively seek out chronic care.

“We offer members targeted strategies for helping manage chronic conditions, working with them to achieve their best possible health,” said Nancy R. Wharfield, MD, associate chief medical officer, Gold Coast Health Plan.

The partnership presents an opportunity to advance care delivery across other populations that struggle with access to care.

“Harvard’s interest in studying the efficacy of these programs further validates the need for innovative mobile solutions that reach members and drive engagement, particularly with underserved populations,” said Chris Nicholson, CEO, mPulse Mobile.

“We’re thrilled to work with Harvard and our customer Gold Coast Health Plan on this research and continue proving text messaging’s positive impact on health outcomes.”


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