Fern Health, a digital health company pioneering virtual musculoskeletal pain programs and pain neuroscience education through employers, announced that it has expanded its collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the MGH Center for Innovation in Digital HealthCare (CIDH). MGH is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and home to one of the world’s leading pain management clinics. Fern Health’s relationship with MGH, formed 18 months ago, will now broaden to entail a multi-year collaboration in which MGH will validate emerging Fern Health product lines, pilot new products in a clinical setting, and investigate new scientific approaches to pain management.
The expansion supports Fern Health’s long-term vision of democratizing access to non-invasive multimodal pain management. Fern Health’s current product suite, which includes an evidence-based, digitally delivered musculoskeletal (MSK) pain management program, was originally developed with experts from within Mass General, in consultation with their clinical collaborators at the world-renowned Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. Fern’s biopsychosocial pain management solution was validated with the clinical rigor of MGH’s renowned hospital-based research enterprise.
“There are a multitude of gaps in the U.S. healthcare system that unfortunately fail our patients with chronic pain, from lack of access to high-quality pain care to the proliferation of costly and often ineffective treatments,” said Mihir M. Kamdar, MD, MGH Pain Physician and Digital Health Advisor. “Evidence-based models of care are still rare in digital health solutions even though they have the potential to address these gaps and give clinicians innovative and effective care options for their patients.”
Fern Health will leverage clinical validation and implementation science, clinical protocol development, access to data-driven insights derived from de-identified patient data, third-party corroboration for peer-review publications and FDA approval processes.
“By evaluating digital health tools in a real-world clinical setting, we can provide distinctive insights, understand user preferences, and validate clinical protocols for optimal implementation and outcomes,” added Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Senior Advisor, Virtual Care, Mass General Brigham; Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School; and Senior Advisor, MGH Center for Innovation in Digital HealthCare. “This collaboration is designed to help advance pain management through digitally-delivered personalized exercise therapy, education, and health coaching—which early results suggest is occurring.” Dr. Kvedar is also President of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).
The collaboration also gives Fern Health substantial clinical and scientific data to expand into the broader ecosystem of digitally-delivered pain management platforms:
The Fern user experience will replicate how a patient might experience evidence-based, personalized treatment at a hospital-based pain management clinic. Rather than delivered in-person, treatment is delivered digitally and is accessible from anywhere.
Informed by predictive analytics and an expansive MGH data set of 10 million de-identified patient records, personalized, evidence-based Fern patient treatment plans will leapfrog the performance of “one-size-fits-all” pain management platforms that are limited to publicly available data or their own user data.
The collaboration will form the foundation from which Fern will launch new products and services rooted in collaborative care aimed at treating the whole person across physical, emotional, and behavioral considerations.
“At least half of the population suffers from physical pain and its cascade of effects across social, mental and emotional well-being,” said Travis Bond, CEO, Fern Health. “This initiative marries science, clinical rigor, artificial intelligence and incredibly rich historical patient data sets with digital care delivery. It’s a huge first step into a better future for pain management science and for the millions of people living with musculoskeletal pain today.”
One out of every two people suffer from MSK pain and the U.S. spends $380 billion on MSK conditions each year, contributing to MSK pain being the top driver of employer healthcare costs. Fern Health eases the burden on employers who face daunting pain management treatment economics. Provided as a benefits add-on for self-insured employers, Fern Health offers a biopsychosocial approach to pain management, including personalized restorative therapy, pain neuroscience education and virtual 1:1 health coaching. The company is currently engaged in pilot programs with several mid-size and large employers spanning the professional services, manufacturing and transportation sectors.
Fern Health was born out of a collaboration between Grünenthal, a science-driven global leader in pain management with a decades-long track record of delivering solutions to pain patients worldwide, and BCG Digital Ventures, an investment and incubation firm that invents, launches, scales and invests in new businesses in partnership with the world’s most influential corporations.
About Fern Health:
Available through employers, Fern Health’s digital program addresses the source of chronic back and joint pain, not just the symptoms. Fern’s biopsychosocial approach includes restorative therapy, pain neuroscience education, and health coaching to get members feeling better without surgery or inappropriate use of opioids.