This time last year, Humana announced the opening of Studio H, a Boston-based studio working to improve provider workflow, expand telehealth into the home, innovate voice recognition technologies and digitize primary care.
Today, Studio H boasts an environment rich with new health technology, and a recent walkthrough by CNBC illustrated a tech-heavy space. Upwards of 75 new developers joined the team over the past six months, working on innovative technology solutions and collaborating with academic technology research centers like MIT to improve Humana’s digital health capabilities. Studio H leader Heather Cox is Humana’s first Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer. Prior to Humana, Cox was the head of digital technology at USAA and the CEO of Citi FinTech at Citi Group.
Studio H, in collaboration with Doctor on Demand, recently developed a digital primary healthcare service called On Hand that will be available to small business plans in 2020. On Hand will provide virtual visits with board-certified physicians and other clinical providers. The platform will allow doctors to make in-network referrals and allow patients to send blood pressure and temperature measurements using a medical device kit. On Hand seeks to not only expand Humana’s digital landscape but also bridge access problems across disadvantaged patients and lower healthcare costs. Through this platform, Studio H can innovate the home health space, given that a strong virtual health platform can allow for seamless healthcare delivery at home.
Humana’s investment in Studio H parallels Aetna’s partnership with Teledoc and New York Presbyterian Hospital’s OnDemand telehealth service. It also indicative of a broader trend in the healthcare industry, as telehealth is growing to be competitive market primarily driven by investment in software technology and artificial intelligence. For example, 98point6 offers an Amazon-like annual subscription for virtual primary care and clinician visits, rather than the usual fee-for-service payment model offered by competitors such as Doctor on Demand. It boasts an instant messaging platform and AI assistance. Healthcare—and especially telehealth—is increasingly becoming a market where the software and AI innovations result in a competitive edge. Studio H’s investment in a workforce of software developers and AI experts underscores its capacity to compete in this competitive market.
Humana appears to draw influence from several of its rivals—CVS and the joint venture Haven Healthcare—by pursuing strategic collaborations outside startups and research facilities. Humana’s investment in Studio H makes one thing clear: effective digital capabilities are necessities for health insurance innovation.