WESTBOROUGH – The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative recently announced awards for the new Right Care 4 You grant program totaling $189,360 for two digital health companies to support pilot projects with Massachusetts employers to help reduce their healthcare costs. The two competitive grants were awarded to Fitbit to conduct a randomized controlled trial with UMass Memorial Health Care (UMass Memorial) employees, aimed to help prevent and manage cardiometabolic diseases using Fitbit Premium™ and Health Coaching services and to Vincere Health to conduct a pilot of their smartphone-connected smoking cessation solution with Boston Medical Center (BMC) employees.
“The Right Care 4 You grants are the culmination of a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts business community, public sector, and digital health ecosystem,” said Massachusetts eHealth Institute Director Laurance Stuntz. “Our grantees have worked hard to develop exciting new solutions for consumers, employers, and government and we’re proud to support their work in validating the ability of these solutions to truly reduce healthcare costs.”
In 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 change in the healthcare delivery system and reduce costs. In November 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts, the Coalition released strategies and actions that employers could take to help meet the Coalition’s goal of achieving healthcare cost savings for consumers and employers.
MeHI created the ‘Right Care 4 You’ program to build on the Coalition’s recommendations and to support the growth of the Massachusetts digital health ecosystem, by providing grant funding to companies with a compelling vision for reducing healthcare costs.
The Coalition is supported by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC), which collaborated with MeHI to design the grant program. MeHI and HPC hope to reduce healthcare costs for Massachusetts employers and the Commonwealth as a whole, and to develop success stories for Massachusetts digital health companies.
“This unique public-private partnership provides local employers and digital health companies the opportunity to come together to address serious health care challenges in the Commonwealth,” said HPC Executive Director David Seltz. “Both awardees have the potential to reduce health care costs in a creative and meaningful way. The HPC is proud to support these initiatives along with MeHI, and we are excited to see the results of these collaborations.”
Fitbit received a grant of $100,000 to collaborate and conduct a randomized controlled trial of Fitbit’s Premium and Health Coaching services with 600 UMass Memorial 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. The trial is projected to be completed in March of 2022.
“Fitbit is excited to be part of this innovative program in Massachusetts given our robust presence in Boston and strong roots from Twine Health, which was headquartered in Cambridge and acquired by Fitbit in 2018. Through this study with UMass Memorial, we hope to demonstrate the powerful impact that digital health tools including wearable devices, software guidance, and health coaches can have on health behaviors, biometric outcomes, and healthcare costs,” said John Moore, MD, PhD, Fitbit Medical Director and Former CEO and Co-founder of Twine Health. “For more than 13 years, Fitbit has seen the power of digital health tools help consumers make meaningful behavior change. This study aims to measure the impact that digital health tools can have on the prevention and management of cardiometabolic disease for employees, which has the potential to springboard the adoption of digital health solutions by employers and to improve the lives of many more people.”
The partnership of Vincere Health and BMC received a grant of $89,360 to conduct a pilot of Vincere’s smoking-cessation platform with a sample of BMC employees. Their technology uses a smartphone-connected remote monitoring solution to deliver real-time incentives to users in return for meeting their smoking and vaping cessation objectives and engaging with educational tools. Vincere’s project was able to launch without delay in the fall of 2020. Participants engaged in the pilot for at least four weeks. The initial pilot period is projected to wrap up by April 2021 and Vincere will follow-up with pilot participants at six months and one year post-intervention to check recidivism rates.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support and vision of MassTech. They've afforded us the opportunity to collaborate with one of the premier Tobacco Treatment teams on the east coast,” said Vincere Co-Founder and President Jake Keteyian. “Our aim has always been to scale the existing evidence base with smarter, more thoughtful digital tools and empower clinicians to reach more participants at lower cost. The data and insights that will come as a result of this collaboration will enable us to continue to build a better, more accessible product for smokers during this unprecedented time in public health. We can think of no better partner to work alongside, or learn from, than the experts at Boston Medical Center.”
About the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative:
Launched in January 2016, the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative is a comprehensive public-private partnership to accelerate the competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s digital healthcare cluster. The Initiative brings together leaders from technology, health care, and government to address gaps in the digital healthcare ecosystem. The Initiative is led by a collection of collaborating organizations from both the public and private sectors, including the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MeHI), the City of Boston, MassChallenge, and TechSpring. Learn more at MassDigitalHealth.org.