Update: Capital BlueCross is now offering free virtual visits for mental health through June 30. The article has been updated to reflect the new date.
Pennsylvania-based health insurer Capital BlueCross is offering certain members free access to a self-guided mobile app focused on improving mental health.
The app, called NeuroFlow, provides users with activities to track and enhance their mental and behavioral health. These include breathing guides, journaling and cognitive behavioral therapy exercises. The app enables users to track mood, sleep, stress and pain. Users also receive incentives, like redeemable gift cards, for engaging in the activities, Dr. Jennifer Chambers, senior vice president and CMO of Capital BlueCross, said in a phone interview.
Capital BlueCross is currently offering access to the app for members of its small group insured and ASO products, but it has plans to expand access to other members in the future, Chambers said. Eligible members will be able to download and register for the app using information sent to them by Capital BlueCross.
NeuroFlow is one of the graduates of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Smart Health Innovation Lab, which Capital BlueCross co-founded in 2018. The lab works to bring emerging healthcare technologies and products to market faster than they normally would, Chambers said.
“[When I was introduced to the NeuroFlow team,] I was highly impressed with the work they’d already done,” she said. “We started to brainstorm [about] how an insurance company [could] use this tool in a way that is different, so we could have a self-directed app.”
A mental health crisis was already brewing in the United States when the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, which worsened the crisis significantly. The prevalence of depression symptoms in the country was more than threefold higher during the pandemic as compared with before, according to a 2020 study published in JAMA Network Open.
“We know we are living right now in a time of a mental health epidemic, where people are really suffering from anxiety, depression related to the fact that we are living in a new isolated world of worry and people dying,” Chambers said. “And so it’s timely that we have this app available to us now and to our members.”
Capital BlueCross also offers a telemedicine tool that connects members with medical and behavioral specialists. Through June 30, the insurer is offering free virtual visits for counseling, psychology, psychiatry and other care to members. The NeuroFlow app, which does not connect users to medical professionals, is a complementary service to the telemedicine tool.
Capital BlueCross is excited to work with the NeuroFlow team, and both companies have benefitted from the partnership, Chambers said.
“They gained from our knowledge about how a self-directed tool geared toward membership in an insurance product would look, and they brought us the specialized thinking around cognitive behavioral therapy and the ways that these activities can be deployed so that they’re interesting and engaging for people,” she added. “So, I think that the collaboration has been very successful.”
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