Imagine pressing a button on your TV remote control and getting a reminder on the screen to take a medication or check in with your doctor.
That’s one of the possibilities of a new joint venture between Comcast Corp. and Independence Health Group, parent of Independence Blue Cross. The as-yet-unnamed joint venture was announced Thursday by the two Philadelphia companies.
“The goal is to help our customers have a much better experience, higher quality experience, and understand the health-care experience better,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, chief executive of Independence, the region’s largest health insurer.
Hilferty said the venture is part of Independence’s efforts to diversify. For Comcast, the giant internet provider, the venture could provide more value to the digital pipelines entering millions of American homes.
The new digital health platform, expected to be piloted in the second half of 2018 in Philadelphia, will have educational and tele-medicine capabilities.
Hilferty offered the example of someone who just had a knee replacement.
“A clinician can look at the scar to make sure the coloration is right, can ask the person to move their leg a certain way. They have their initial follow-up appointment remotely. There’s obviously a cost savings there,” he said.
Brian Lobley, president of commercial and consumer markets at IBC, highlighted the data strength of the two companies.
“We’re going to use all of the data that we have from both companies and actually be able to create specific journeys for you,” Lobley said. “Two knee replacement paths are not the same depending on your age, depending on your weight, depending on other conditions.”
The idea for the health-care platform arose from conversations between business-development groups at the two companies, including Sam Schwartz, Comcast’s chief business development officer.
“As we watched these organizations, like the Amazon idea with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan, some of the other nontraditional proposed mergers and collaboration,” Hilferty said, “it really intensified our feelings that we could come up with something together using the best assets that we had to offer to create something better for our members and Comcast customers.”