Cigna, Cricket Health expand kidney care partnership in California

Cigna will grow its partnership with Cricket Health to offer a multidisciplinary care approach to California members with late-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD)—news that could be quite welcome amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

The expanded partnership will begin in May. Through Cricket Health’s artificial intelligence algorithm, the insurer will identify members with CKD and deploy a care team that seeks to reduce the need for hospitalization and better manage the patient’s condition. 

Directing patients toward home care options when possible will be especially critical as more Americans are urged to stay home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Cricket Health CEO Arvind Rajan told FierceHealthcare.

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“The COVID-19 crisis has underlined the importance of the Cricket model of care even more sharply,” Rajan said.  

“Our personalized, evidence-based approach to treating and managing kidney disease is designed to identify patients at-risk for or living with CKD earlier and deliver comprehensive, high-touch care to keep them as healthy as possible,” he said. 

Rajan said patients with kidney disease are at a heightened risk of complications from contracting COVID-19 and noted that some of the first U.S. deaths were in patients who were receiving in-clinic dialysis. 

Eligible Cricket Health patients can instead transition to in-home dialysis and other virtual options, keeping them from making trips to the clinic, he said, especially as many patients with advanced dialysis require multiple trips for dialysis per week. 

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“During this crisis, it is critical that we keep patients living with CKD as healthy as possible and out of the clinic or hospital whenever possible and appropriate,” Rajan said. “In order to do so, we need to help patients access the care and support they need virtually in their own homes.” 

Cricket Health uses solely claims data to monitor the population, meaning it can routinely update risk assessments for Cigna’s membership at low cost. Cigna’s venture capital arm was an early investor in Cricket Health, participating in its $24 million series A funding round.