Cigna expands partnership with Cricket Health in kidney disease care

Health insurance giant Cigna has expanded its collaboration with Cricket Health, a kidney care provider, to use a machine learning algorithm that identifies Cigna customers with or at risk for developing late-stage chronic kidney care disease. Cigna is a major investor in Cricket Health, committing $24 million in a Series A funding round in 2018.

Cricket’s machine learning algorithm, which relies on claims data only, can help identify patients and deploy a care management team to keep patients out of the hospital and manage the progress of their disease. Cricket Health will also help patients understand their care options if their disease does progress, such as home or in-center dialysis, transplants or conservative care.

The partnership means Cigna can monitor its kidney care members at a low cost and potentially reduce hospitalizations and improve at-home care.

"Historically, kidney disease and failure have been disproportionately costly to treat," said Pete Welch, Northern California market president for Cigna. "Cricket will help Cigna bring affordability, predictability and simplicity to the treatment of kidney disease. By leveraging data to identify at-risk members, we can deploy a care team to deliver the best possible care before the patient's condition worsens—which can improve the customer's experience and their health."

The partnership comes at a time when more national focus has been placed on improving care for CKD. The Trump administration overhauled kidney care late last year by changing Medicare payment methodologies to offer expanded care options for beneficiaries with the disease, including more options at home. The collaboration between Cigna and Cricket Health aligns with the goals of the Advancing American Kidney Health Initiative by improving care and lowering costs.

Beyond investing in Cricket Health, Cigna has a $250 million venture capital fund focused on transformative and innovative healthcare companies and growth-stage companies.