Walgreens, Qualcomm, United Healthcare partner through data exchange

May 10, 2016

Everyone profits, including patients, who get paid almost $1,500 in HSA credits for their data - if they do as they are told.

The 2net Platform from Qualcomm Life enables remote patient monitoring, transitional care support, and chronic care management through a secure transmission of biometric data from patients’ connected medical devices. Walgreens and United Healthcare are making the most of it.

Qualcomm Life's 2net system, which automatically finds any device [e.g., blood pressure cuff or glucose meter] that has wireless connectivity, is built right into the Walgreens app.

See also: Mobile health apps should connect to EHRs

Instant data mining

James Mault

“Without having to do anything, it will connect and capture that data, and then allow a patient to share that data with Walgreens,” said James Mault, MD, vice president and chief medical officer, Qualcomm Life.

The payoff for patients is balance rewards points they can earn in exchange for connecting their device and letting their data upload to Walgreens.

Mault said that the proliferation of smart phones in daily life is a major driver of this initiative.

“It’s very much the consumers that are going to help drive that, because they’re living in a digital world in basically every other facet of their lives.”

See also: Telepharmacy pulls hospital through storm

Convenience outweighs risk

Mault pointed out that concerns about data security are not unfounded, but he noted that the benefits and convenience outweigh the risks.

“Anyone who suggests that healthcare should stay manual and paper-based has got their heads in the sand,” he said.

Compliance earns HSA credits

Qualcomm Life has joined forces with United Healthcare to create an insurance plan known as UnitedHealthcare Motion. This is built upon employee willingness to use a digital wearable device in exchange for almost $1,500 in credits made to the employee’s health savings account (HSA).

In addition to wearing the device, the employee earns those HSA credits by agreeing to engage in specific activities directed by health coaches.

According to United Healthcare, the program is available on a select basis to companies that have a fully insured health plan and 101 to 300 employees.

The goal is to help employers address the rising costs of healthcare by providing employees and their covered spouses with custom-designed wearable devices that track the number of steps each user takes throughout the day and calculate the total number, frequency and intensity of the steps taken.

The information acquired from the wearable devices is sent to the UnitedHealthcare Motion app, which is powered through Qualcomm Life’s 2net Mobile connectivity platform.

The payoff

The program is seeing a very high participation rate, Mault said, because the incentive is so significant.

While the wearable device is not yet talking to medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs or glucose meters, that’s the direction in which things will eventually head, said Mault.

Currently the wearable device is driving a specific set of activities throughout the day. For example, you can earn credit toward your HSA if you comply when the wearable device prompts you to get up from your desk and move around.

Mault said that United Healthcare has the data to show that if people practice these sorts of activities, they will actually lower their cost of care.