In December 2018, a group of Massachusetts employers founded the Massachusetts Employer Health Coalition with the goal of using their collective influence to uncover solutions that can drive real change in the healthcare delivery system and reduce costs. In November 2019, the Coalition released strategies and actions that employers can take to help meet the Coalition’s goal of achieving healthcare cost savings for consumers, employers, and state government. The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the MassTech Collaborative created this grant program to support the goals of the Coalition by offsetting the costs for Massachusetts digital health companies to pilot their products and services with Massachusetts employers. Through the grant program, MeHI hopes to reduce healthcare costs for Massachusetts employers and the Commonwealth as a whole, and to develop success stories for Massachusetts digital health companies.
In February 2021, MeHI announced grants totaling $189,360 to two Massachusetts digital health companies to support projects piloting their solutions with Massachusetts employers and quantifying their impact on their employer partner’s healthcare costs.
FitBit Health Solutions and UMass Memorial Health Care ($100,000)
Fitbit received a grant of $100,000 to collaborate and conduct a randomized controlled trial of Fitbit Premium™ and Health Coaching services with 600 UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC) employees to help prevent and manage cardiometabolic diseases. This includes empowering participants to improve physical activity, nutrition, sleep, and stress management. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive standard healthcare benefits and services offered by UMass Memorial, or those same benefits and services plus a Fitbit Inspire 2™ tracker or Versa 3™ smartwatch and the Fitbit Aria Air™ smart scale, along with access to Fitbit Premium and Fitbit Health Coaching services for a year. Fitbit Premium is a personalized resource in the Fitbit app that includes guided programs and advanced tools to help users reach their individual goals, and Fitbit Health Coaching includes in-app messaging, personalized guidance and a structured plan from a certified health coach. Health surveys, biometric screening, and claims data will be compared across the control and intervention groups to evaluate health improvements and healthcare cost savings.
Vincere Health and Boston Medical Center ($89,360)
The partnership of Vincere Health and Boston Medical Center (BMC) received a grant of $89,360 to conduct a pilot of Vincere’s smoking-cessation platform with a sample of BMC employees. Vincere Health offers a novel software platform that pairs a mobile application with a carbon monoxide breathalyzer, delivering real-time incentives to users in return for meeting their smoking cessation objectives and engaging with their educational tools. Two programs were offered to the BMC employees, an effort-based program where employees would receive incentives for simply conducting breath tests, and a success-based program where employees would receive real-time financial incentives for a combination of conducting breath tests and staying under specific carbon monoxide thresholds. In addition to tools like carbon monoxide sensing, real-time financial incentives, and tracking via the mobile app, the participants were paired with Health Coaches. Vincere Health’s initial goal was to achieve a 20% quit rate and the actual quit rate achieved was 59%. Cash rewards, the Progress Chart in the mobile app, and Coaching Sessions were all indicated as the most motivating factors for the participants.