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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Anthem and MATTER Select Pandemic Response Challenge Winners

CHICAGO — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), Anthem, Inc., and MATTER have named the winners of the Pandemic Response Innovation Challenge. BCBSIL and Anthem teamed with MATTER to identify solutions that support health plan members during the current and future pandemics.

The challenge issued a global call for creative behavioral health and data solutions aimed at supporting the healthcare needs of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first challenge track, innovators were asked to submit solutions that empower people to address behavioral health needs that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, like depression, anxiety and substance abuse. The second challenge track asked innovators to submit solutions for validation using Anthem’s Digital Data Sandbox, one of the largest certified de-identified health data sets in the U.S., with the goal being to improve patient care and outcomes during COVID-19 and in the future.*

Behavioral health track winner: wayForward

Mental health and emotional wellness is on a spectrum, and not everyone needs the same care. wayForward works with health plans and employers to serve their members and employees, striving to match them with optimal and effective digital and traditional mental healthcare. wayForward was started in New York by Dr. Navya Singh, a psychologist and adjunct research scientist at Columbia University with the mission to make mental health accessible and affordable.

“We are honored to have this opportunity to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. COVID-19 has changed the behavioral health needs of millions of people, and it is a privilege to be able to serve these growing problems through our digital solution,” says Ritvik Singh, CEO and co-founder of wayForward.

“We’re excited to pilot this solution with wayForward that aims to address behavioral health needs in an adaptable way,” said Steve Hamman, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “As COVID-19 continues to evolve and its aftereffects remain unknown, I’m proud we’re seeking proactive solutions that embrace telehealth in a thoughtful and strategic way to support whole person health for our members and the communities in which we serve.”

Data sandbox track winner: WiserCare

“WiserCare is excited to partner with Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. Our goal is to connect all patients to the personalized care they deserve. Anthem’s unique data sandbox combined with WiserCare’s personalized, virtual decision support algorithms can identify and improve care for chronic disease patients asynchronously and remotely — which is especially important during a pandemic,” said Arul Thangavel, MD, CEO and Jared Drake, president.

WiserCare’s software platform combines clinical decision support and shared decision making to enable guideline-concordant, personalized care delivery at population scale. The platform’s patented approach integrates published evidence and guidelines, member clinical characteristics, barriers and preferences to provide individualized guidance. WiserCare supports members and their care teams on a broad range of decisions from preventive care to elective procedures, chronic and complex conditions, and end-of-life care. “As we navigate the pandemic, the ultimate question we’re asking ourselves is: How can we use the data from COVID-19 to make us better prepared for the next pandemic?” said Plamen Petrov, vice president of exponential technologies at Anthem. “Startups, like WiserCare, can help deliver a lot of value and innovation. WiserCare is also an example of a solution that could help the industry better respond to some of the needs of today and challenges of tomorrow.”

MATTER, Anthem and BCBSIL hosted an all-virtual pitch event on October 28 for the nine finalists of the Pandemic Response Innovation Challenge.

wayForward and WiserCare will receive membership to MATTER and move on to collaborate with Anthem and BCBSIL, respectively, to validate their solutions.

“This challenge is an ideal example of how, with the right players, cross-industry collaboration is the fastest, most effective way to advance care and improve lives,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “Though wayForward’s and WiserCare’s solutions solve very different problems within pandemic response, when piloted within these two leading organizations, they collectively improve the future of Health.”

*The Anthem Digital Data Sandbox uses certified de-identified data to protect the privacy of individuals. No identifiable Anthem member data is used in the Sandbox. Anthem takes the security of its data and the personal information of consumers very seriously. We are committed to safeguarding our members’ data, including their Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII).


About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois 
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is committed to expanding access to quality, cost-effective health to as many people as possible in Illinois. BCBSIL is dedicated to innovation and exploring, nurturing and activating future possibilities to make the health care system work better for our members and our communities. BCBSIL is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

At MATTER, we believe collaboration is the best way to improve healthcare. The MATTER collaborative includes more than 200 cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together we are accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit and follow @MATTERhealth.

About Anthem, Inc. 
Anthem is a leading health benefits company dedicated to improving lives and communities, and making health care simpler. Through its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 106 million people, including more than 42 million within its family of health plans. We aim to be the most innovative, valuable and inclusive partner. For more information, please visit or follow @AnthemInc on Twitter.


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Colleen Miller 

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

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