Health tech collaborative hopes to bring valuable solutions to the vulnerable

Medicaid beneficiaries are, by definition, the most vulnerable healthcare population in America. Despite this, innovative health technology companies tend to bring their products elsewhere—usually the employer-sponsored or Medicare Advantage markets.

Sometimes it can take a decade for those solutions to filter down to the Medicaid population.

HealthTech4Medicaid (HT4M), an organization that launched earlier this month, hopes to change that by fostering partnerships, opportunities and knowledge among health technology executives.

So far, more than 40 CEOs have joined HT4M. They come from states across the nation, and their companies collectively possess than $1 billion in capital.  

The organization encourages members to collaborate, share best practices and embark on new partnerships together.

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Contrary to popular belief, there are business opportunities in Medicaid, according to Abner Mason, founder and co-chair of HT4M. Medicaid’s magnitude alone can certainly increase the visibility of a new solution, but the program’s sheer size is only one part of the reason for that. 

It’s hard to serve low-income individuals, who generally have more health problems. But if a company can solve that, their solution will likely translate to high-income individuals as well, Mason said.

“The reverse is not true," he told FierceHealthcare. "Solutions that work for high-income people don’t usually work for lower-income people."

HT4M also hopes to educate health tech CEOs about the complicated Medicaid policy landscape through webinars and “entrepreneur-friendly” written materials. From there, they can advocate for policies that advance, rather than impede, the development of health tech in Medicaid.

Value-based care is “good for innovation,” Mason said. One of HT4M’s goals is to help managed care organizations see that small, venture-backed tech companies can improve outcomes and lower costs.

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The organization is also focused on modernizing outdated policies. For instance, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prohibits sending text messages without the recipient’s permission. That makes it difficult to engage with potential users of, say, a tobacco cessation app, especially since many Medicaid consumers own a mobile phone, but not a personal computer.

"[You] might as well be using Morse Code” to reach them, Mason said.

Hurdles aside, Mason said he’s excited about “some really encouraging developments” in this space. HT4M will present at the Future of Medicaid forum during the JP Morgan Healthcare Investment Conference in January.