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mHealth Deals Integrate Chronic Care, Mental Health Platforms

Livongo Health's planned acquisition of myStrength is the latest in a string of deals by mHealth and telehealth companies aimed at integrating a wide variety of chronic care services onto one connected care platform.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Livongo Health’s pending acquisition of an mHealth platform for mental health offers new proof that connected health platforms won’t work unless they integrate care management for a broad array of chronic health concerns.

Livongo, launched five years ago as a digital health platform for diabetes care by former Allscripts executive Glen Tullman, announced plans this week to acquire myStrength, a Denver-based mHealth app focused on behavioral health. The deal positions Livongo – which last year expanded its platform to include hypertension care and weight management – to target a much larger population of people with co-existing health issues.

It also continues the trend of healthcare providers looking at telehealth and mHealth as an integrated care platform, and moving away from singular solutions that create their own silos of care. Among the most sought-after services at present are telemental health tools.

“The relationship between behavioral health issues and chronic conditions is well-documented,” Livongo President Dr. Jennifer Schneider, MD, MS, said in a press release. “As we aggregate, interpret, apply, and iterate health signals to increase personalization, we will improve clinical outcomes, enabling a truly innovative behavioral solution fueled by a flywheel of continuous improvement for a better member experience. This will be truly impactful for people with behavioral health issues.”

The deal is the second diabetes-mental health collaboration announced this month.

Just a few weeks ago Omada Health, a digital therapeutics company with a focus on obesity-related chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, announced new cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs for those dealing with depression and anxiety.

“The unmet need for evidence-based mental health care, especially among those with obesity-related chronic disease, is enormous,” Carolyn Bradner Jasik, MD, Omada’s Vice President of Medical Affairs, said in a press release. “Depression and anxiety are a known barrier to healthy behaviors including medication adherence, optimal nutrition, and seeking timely preventive care. With the addition of CBT curriculum, we can more fully support our participants as they manage their conditions.  And, through our digital platform, we can do it at scale.”

This, in turn, follows moves made in recent years by telehealth providers like American Well, Teladoc, InTouch Health and SOC Telemed to expand their services to an enterprise-wide platform. The strategy gives healthcare providers an opportunity to collect all of their connected health offerings in one virtual location.

With its acquisition of myStrength and the addition of two mHealth experts – former Ginger.io CEO Anmol Madden and Dr. Julia Hoffman, the VA’s former Director of Mental Health Services – to its executive team, Livongo sees the mental health space as a key area of growth.

Among those poised to take advantage of the integrated platform is Cambia Health Solutions, an Oregon-based health plan serving more than 70 million people as part of the Regence network.

“Our regional health plans currently partner with Livongo to provide diabetes management services to our members, as we have explored ways to provide our members a new experience in managing their chronic conditions,” Dr. Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH, Cambia’s Senior Vice President of Health Care Services and Chief Medical Officer, said in the press release. “Managing behavioral health and chronic conditions will now allow us to better address the health of the whole person.”

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