Highmark BCBS Expands Access to Freespira’s Digital Therapeutic to Help Treat Pain, PTSD, Panic Attacks

What You Should Know:

– Health insurer Highmark expands access to FDA-cleared digital therapeutic Freespira proven to reduce the symptoms of panic disorder and PTSD for members in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.

– The announcement follows a pilot study finding that nearly 9 out of 10 patients using the solution were symptom-free after treatment.

Highmark Inc., the fourth-largest Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization announced it is expanding access to Freespira’s FDA-cleared digital therapeutic to significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms of panic attacks, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its members throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.

Freespira-Highmark Pilot Results

Highmark originally piloted Freespira in 2016 as part of its VITAL Innovation program to help members suffering from panic disorder obtain relief with a new treatment option that not only reduced or eliminated panic attacks but also led to decreased utilization of medical services and decreased medical costs. The pilot also found the digital therapeutic saved 65% on emergency department costs as fewer people showed up at the ER complaining of anxiety symptoms.

How Freespira Works

Freespira is unique in its approach to addressing the underlying causes of panic disorder and PTSD symptoms. Multiple studies have shown that hypersensitivity to carbon dioxide and related breathing irregularities are key physiological causes of panic disorder and PTSD symptoms. Freespira helps by providing users with real-time physiological feedback-based training to normalize their respiration rate and exhaled carbon dioxide levels to reduce or eliminate panic disorder and PTSD symptoms.

Research Outcomes/Results

A study,[1] published in April of 2020, confirmed that using Freespira to treat panic disorder and panic attacks is both clinically and financially beneficial. More specifically, the study, conducted at the Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, found that 86% of patients were symptom-free immediately post-treatment and 73% were still symptom-free 12 months post-treatment. The study also led to significant cost savings for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. The reduced costs included a 65% reduction in emergency department costs; a 68% reduction in pharmacy costs; and a 35% reduction in total medical costs. 

“We are pleased with the clinical and financial outcomes achieved for our health plan members through the use of Freespira,” said Demetrios C. Marousis, MA, MBA, LPC, Director of Behavioral Health at Highmark. “This breakthrough, drug-free treatment has reduced the impact of symptoms associated with panic attacks, resulting in reduced use of medications and other healthcare costs for symptom management. Freespira adds value to our members’ plans and helps us to create a remarkable health care experience, freeing people to be their best.”

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