An 'under-the-radar' payer-home health-tech move? (US)

Categories: Latest News.

Connected health developers, take note. The purchase of New York-based geriatric care management (GCM) /chronic care home health provider SeniorBridge by insurance giant Humana late in 2011 went largely unnoticed. It made some news in the payer world, as Humana expands services to their Medicare and related plans members by adding SeniorBridge’s regional network of 1,500 care managers to Humana’s existing network. (Humana release, FierceHealthPayer article) But it didn’t make an entrance on the eHealth/mHealth/connected health scene, then eagerly looking forward to the CES circus.

However, a conversation with one of our long-time readers, John Boden of ElderIssues, convinced us that there may be more to this acquisition than meets the gimlet eye.

  • SeniorBridge has done quite a bit with integrating technology such as EMRs and telehealth (with providers such as VRI) into their GCM model (see journal article), as has Humana.
  • The interest of highly tech-focused Triple Tree in the Humana-Senior Bridge acquisition, citing the fit with Humana’s own member self-management initiatives which are largely tech-integrated (guidance centers, telehealth and health coaching).
  • Finally, the size of the acquisition price indicates the hefty interest: FierceHealthPayer cites SeniorBridge revenue at $72 million, but the purchase price as cited by our source is $112.5 million, a sweet 56% premium.

So here is a move by a major health payer (and player) towards strengthening care transition for its older members by purchasing a GCM/home health company with telehealth experience. To make the model work and the investment pay, for example by reducing ER (ED) readmissions, connected health must fit into the economic model. It is a safe bet that Humana will not be the only one. Stay tuned.