Payer Highmark expands access to Freespira’s digital PTSD, panic disorder therapy
Fierce Healthcare | Feb 8, 2021
Highmark is expanding access to Freespira, a digital therapeutic for panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, across its membership.
The insurer, which offers plans in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware, initially piloted the use of Freespira in 2016 through its VITAL Innovation program, which tests new solutions coming to market, according to an announcement.
Freespira’s device aids patients in managing their symptoms by training them to normalize any respiratory irregularities. Patients also have access to coaching if they’re not already connected to a behavioral health provider.
Freespira said “hypersensitivity” to carbon dioxide and breathing irregularities caused by it can be key triggers to panic disorders and that its device provides patients with real-time feedback on managing their breathing symptoms.
In its pilot, Highmark and Freespira found 86% of participating patients were symptom-free following Freespira’s 28-day treatment, and 73% were still symptom-free a year out from treatment.
In addition, the insurer noted significant cost savings among members enrolled in the pilot. Average overall medical costs were down 35% by $190 per member per month. Emergency department costs decreased by 65%, and pharmacy costs declined by 68%.
“I think this is probably a great example of, ‘if you take care of the fundamental behavioral health needs … you are effecting the total healthcare of a particular patient,'” Demetrios Marousis, director of behavioral health at Highmark, told Fierce Healthcare.
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