Why is Blue Cross Blue Shield investing in Higi?
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Recent news of insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield's investment in healthcare company Higi may have sparked some questions — particularly, what exactly is Higi?
Founded in 2012 by Michael Ferro, Higi owns and operates more than 11,000 self-screening health kiosks in retailers nationwide, Crain's Chicago Business reports. In 2014, Higi signed a deal with national drugstore chain Rite Aid to become its sole provider of health stations where customers can check their weight, pulse, body mass index and blood pressure.
It also has kiosks in other locations, including Publix supermarkets, Shopko, Sam's Club and others across the U.S. and throughout Canada. And the company raised more than $40 million in funding in early 2016.
According to the company, 1 in 10 Americans have used a Higi station to monitor their health and about 75 percent of the U.S. population now lives within five miles of a kiosk. The technology has quickly become ubiquitous.
"Higi was founded on a simple, but elusive idea: When individuals are empowered with their vital health stats (i.e., blood pressure, BMI, weight, pulse and body composition) and motivated through challenges and incentives, they make better decisions that lead to improved health outcomes," CEO Jeff Bennett said in a statement. "We are very fortunate to have investors and a board of directors who share Higi's belief that small, but meaningful steps can create lasting health habits."
Sandbox Industries, a venture-capital firm that advises Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, agrees with this assessment.
"Higi is the only network we have seen that has demonstrated an ability to integrate into the normal workflow of the consumer, whether at the retailer, the pharmacy or on their mobile phone," said Anna Haghgooie, a managing director for Sandbox Industries.
Venture Partners declined to announce the investment amount into Higi.
Higi has used some of the cash to acquire Seattle-based EveryMove, an app-based platform that allows users the ability to track their health habits and rewards them with gift cards and reduced healthcare premiums, according to a company statement. No word on how much Higi paid for EveryMove.
Higi collects and secures data today on behalf of more than 36 million unique users at its retail stations and through integrations with 80 connected health devices, wearables and apps. To date, more than 40 million people have used a Higi health station to conduct 190 million biometric screenings (blood pressure, pulse, weight, body mass index). More than 4 million people have signed up for a Higi account for personal health management and information-sharing with friends, family and healthcare providers.
"Through its secure, HIPAA-compliant data collection, engagement and workflow integration tools, customers leverage its ambient health and lifestyle data, with explicit user consent and opt-in, to drive more targeted engagement through an unprecedented set of physical and digital touchpoints," the company notes.
"This investment along with the integration of EveryMove further extends Higi's leadership in enabling population health and our ability to help our payer, provider, retail and brand customers to drive behavior change, cost savings and improved health," Bennett said.
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