Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Program Validates Effective Drug-Free Treatment for Panic Attacks

Posted On November 28, 2017

Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Program Validates Effective Drug-Free Treatment for Panic Attacks

At 12 months post-treatment, participants’ total medical costs reduced by 50%, ER costs by 64%, and medication costs by 53%

Pittsburgh PA and Danville CA – November 28, 2017 — Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network and Palo Alto Health Sciences, manufacturer of Freespira, today announced the results of a pilot program completed through Highmark Health’s VITAL Program.

In an effort to help health plan members who suffer from panic disorder (PD) and panic attacks, the goal was to demonstrate that once panic attacks were reduced or eliminated, utilization of medical services and the associated costs would be reduced. Results showed that after just 4-weeks of using Freespira®, more than eighty percent of the participants treated were panic attack free.  Moreover, eighty percent were panic attack free and ninety-three percent reported overall panic symptom reduction at twelve months post-treatment.

Fifty participants were enrolled in the program by Allegheny Health Network therapists who provided the initial training on the Freespira device; patients then took Freespira home for twice daily use and followed up with four weekly visits. The participants were assessed at the start of the program, immediately following the Freespira treatment, and again at six and twelve months post-treatment.

Freespira is an FDA-cleared, in-home digital therapeutic device for panic disorder and panic attacks occurring with other anxiety conditions.  Most people with panic chronically hyperventilate, not just when having a panic attack. Freespira corrects this dysfunctional breathing by using a Sensor and guided breathing Protocol to train patients to normalize their exhaled carbon dioxide level and stabilize their breathing rate – which eliminates or reduces panic attacks and other panic symptoms for at least 12 months post-treatment.

“Highmark Health created the VITAL program to provide promising new, FDA-cleared treatments to patients without undue delays or complexity.  We’re very excited about the results of the Freespira program, both in terms of the immediate and long-term results,” said Sarah Ahmad, Senior Vice President of Innovation, Highmark Health.  “The VITAL program is focused on improving outcomes for participants, while validating and fast-tracking a product that has the potential to improve quality of life for the more than 27 million Americans who experience panic attacks annually.  ”

Panic attacks are primarily associated with anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety. While panic is often thought of as a mental health condition, individuals also experience debilitating physiologic symptoms like chest pains, feeling faint, nauseous and numbness in the fingers and toes triggered by their breathing irregularities.  Patients often misinterpret these physical sensations as a serious medical event such as heart attack or stroke, leading to over-utilization of medical services, such as ED visits, diagnostic testing, medications, primary and behavioral health provider visits.

“Improving health outcomes for the patient and reducing overall medical costs is a “win-win-win” for the Patient, Provider and Insurer,” said Debra Reisenthel, CEO of Palo Alto Health Sciences, Inc. “These clinical outcomes were consistent with prior clinical trials in different settings, further validating Freespira’s efficacy.”

“We are very excited to see such lasting results from a 1-month, drug-free treatment that can dramatically improve the quality of life for our patients and reduce total medical costs” said Anthony P. Mannarino, Ph.D. Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Allegheny General Hospital.  “It was also very promising to see high therapist and patient satisfaction and 85% patient adherence , confirming that using Freespira as a first line treatment for panic disorder and panic attacks makes good sense clinically and financially.”

About Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Program

VITAL’s mission is to leverage Highmark Health’s position as one of the largest integrated health care delivery and financing systems in the nation to accelerate the pace with which novel technologies and services are made available to our customers. In doing so, members and patients will be afforded access to safe new technologies without undue financial burden while payers will be able to understand the full impact of new technologies on their members without changing insurance medical policy prematurely. Additionally, providers will gain early access to novel technologies and a first-hand understanding of their impact on patients. Technology vendors will have the opportunity to prove the benefits of their new innovations to patients, providers and payers.  More details about Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Program can be found at: http://vitalinnovationprogram.org

About Highmark Health
Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA based enterprise that employs more than 40,000 people nationwide and serves nearly 50 million Americans in all 50 states, is the second largest integrated health care delivery and financing network in the nation based on revenue.   Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions.  Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates provide health insurance to nearly 5 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware as well as dental insurance, vision care and related health products through a national network of diversified businesses that include United Concordia Companies, HM Insurance Group, Davis Vision and Visionworks.   Allegheny Health Network is the parent company of an integrated delivery network that includes eight hospitals, more than 2,800 affiliated physicians, ambulatory surgery centers, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, a group purchasing organization, and health and wellness pavilions in western Pennsylvania.   HM Health Solutions focuses on meeting the information technology platform and other business needs of the Highmark Health enterprise as well as unaffiliated health insurance plans by providing proven business processes, expert knowledge and integrated cloud-based platforms.  To learn more, please visit www.highmarkhealth.org.

About Palo Alto Health Sciences and Freespira®

Palo Alto Health Sciences, Inc. is a privately held Silicon Valley digital therapeutic company at the forefront of revolutionizing behavioral healthcare with evidence-based, at-home, drug-free solutions. Their first product, Freespira®, is an FDA-cleared treatment for individuals suffering from panic disorder, panic attacks and other symptoms of panic.

Freespira® is commercially available in the U.S. is an FDA-cleared, medication-free, 4-week treatment for panic attacks and other panic symptoms. Treatment is authorized and completed under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider and is clinically proven to reduce or eliminate panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder, a mental health condition in which debilitating anxiety leads to life-altering avoidance behaviors. Individuals with panic chronically hyperventilate, even when not experiencing a panic attack. This abnormal breathing pattern has been shown to exacerbate panic attacks and increase susceptibility to panic symptoms. Freespira uses a custom sensor and twice-daily at-home protocol to train patients to stabilize their respiration rate and exhaled carbon dioxide levels, thereby reducing or eliminating panic attacks. To learn more, please visit: http://www.freespira.com  or contact info@pahealthsciences.com

Media contacts:

Lynn Seay
Director, Corporate Communications
Highmark Health

Sheila McCormick
Media and Marketing
Palo Alto Health Sciences
Email:  Sheila@pahealthsciences.com